Family Parrots (Psittacidae)


Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus)


French: Perroquet robuste German: Kappapagei Spanish: Lorito robusto
Other common names: Brown-necked Parrot (when lumped with P. fuscicollis)

Psittacus robustus

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,

Eastern Cape Province, South Africa


Sometimes thought to form a parapatric species-pair with P. gulielmi. Trend to treat nominate robustus as a separate species endemic in South Africa has gathered momentum in recent years#R#R, but published attempts at justification#R#R#R#R were previously hampered by inadequate evidence and argument (e.g. claims of ecological specialization by robustus on Podocarpus fail to recognize that race suahelicus occurs in Podocarpus zone in Tanzania); notion that robustus and suahelicus are parapatric unsubstantiated. However, it is the case that robustus vs suahelicus (with fuscicollis) differs in its pale green vs pale grey head and neck (2); darker, blacker mantle, wing-coverts and flight feathers (2); generally less extensive or no red on head of female, so that in adults the difference between the sexes is considerably less obvious (at least 1); generally narrower, less obvious pale fringes to flight feathers (ns[1]); slightly smaller size (wing and tail) but with distinctly smaller bill (effect size –2.74, score 2); higher frequency range of single notes (allow 2); and clearly different note shapes (allow 1). Proposed race angolensis (from Angola) considered inseparable from suahelicus. DNA analyses support considering robustus as a distinct species#R. Monotypic.


SE South Africa (S KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces)

Descriptive notes

30–36 cm; 295–401 g. Head, throat and neck yellowish brown; body and wings dark green; thighs and outer edges of wings orange red; tail and flight-feathers black... read more


Calls comprise short, rather pure-sounding, piercing whistles, predominantly upslurred or... read more


Occupies montane mist-belt evergreen Podocarpus/Afrocarpus forest in temperate... read more

Food and feeding

Seeds, nuts, berries and nectar. Often considered to be a specialist on Podocarpus, but in fact the diet is considerably broader... read more


Recorded Aug–Feb. Nest chiefly in a natural (but secondary) hole in trunk of dead Podocarpus falcatus, other Podocarpus... read more


Some populations or parts of populations resident, with others wandering extensively during dry... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. CITES II. Generally scarce, but patchily common. Declines caused by habitat loss (clearance of Afromontane forest and selective logging of mature Afrocarpus... read more

Recommended citation

Collar, N., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). 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 9 December 2019).