Family Parrots (Psittacidae)

Least Concern

Brown-headed Parrot (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus)


French: Perroquet à tête brune German: Braunkopfpapagei Spanish: Lorito cabecipardo

Psittacus (Poiocephalus) [sic] cryptoxanthus

W. K. H. Peters

, 1854,

Inhambane, Mozambique


Thought to form a species-group with P. meyeri, P. rueppellii and P. crassus, and possibly others. In the past considered conspecific with P. crassus. Believed to hybridize with P. meyeri in SE Zimbabwe, although this perhaps not so extensive as once thought: birds with yellow shoulders may be aberrant individuals of present species. Proposed race zanzibaricus (Pemba I and Zanzibar) inseparable from tanganyikae, which itself is sometimes regarded as invalid. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. tanganyikae Bowen, 1930 – SE Kenya and E Tanzania, including Pemba I and Zanzibar, S to S Malawi and Mozambique N of R Save.
  • P. c. cryptoxanthus (W. K. H. Peters, 1854) – SE Zimbabwe and S Mozambique (S of R Save) to NE South Africa (E Limpopo to N KwaZulu-Natal) and Swaziland.
  • Descriptive notes

    23–25 cm. 114–156 g. Head and neck dusky brown, back and wings brownish green, rump yellowish green, tail greenish brown, underparts green, underwing-coverts... read more


    Commonest call is a short, sharply upslurred, piercing “kwEEt!” or a slightly longer “krra-eet!”.... read more


    Semi-arid and subhumid bush, thornveld, open wooded savanna and woodland, including areas with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds, e.g. Erythrina and Adansonia; nuts; fruits, particularly of figs (Ficus), Pseudocadia zambesica... read more


    Apr–Oct in S Africa; May in Malawi; Jul and Sept in Mozambique; Apr, Jun and Jul in E Africa, but probably Sept–Oct on Zanzibar... read more


    Resident. In Transvaal probably moves locally in response to fruiting seasons of trees.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Locally common, E Transvaal, especially in Kruger National Park. Common, especially in Acacia below 600 m, Malawi. The common... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Boesman, P. (2019). Brown-headed Parrot (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 15 December 2019).