Poicephalus robustus (Cape parrot) 

Woudpapegaai, Grootpapegaai [Afrikaans]; Isikhwenene [Xhosa]; isiKhwenene [Zulu]; Hokwe (generic term for parrot) [Tsonga]; Kaapse papegaai [Dutch]; Perroquet robuste [French]; Kappapagei [German]; Papagaio-de-bico-grosso [Portuguese]

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Poicephalus robustus (Cape parrot)   

Cape parrot. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ]

 

The Cape parrot is endemic, endangered and highly localised, being found in small patches of Afromontane forest in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. It feeds exclusively on fruit, mainly foraging in the early morning and late afternoon. It nests in pre-existing tree holes, especially in Podocarpus (Yellowwood). The felling of yellowwood trees is the main reason for its Endangered status, as it results in difficulty in location of nesting sites, leading to a poor reproductive rate. The female lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated by by the female only, for 28-30 days. The chicks stay in the nest for 55-79 days, after which they may remain with their parents for about one year. For information, visit the Cape Parrot Working Group.

To find out more about the Cape parrot, visit the Cape Parrot Working Group.

Distribution and habitat

Endemic, rare and highly localised, occurring from Fort Beaufort, Eastern Cape to Karkloof, KwaZulu-Natal, with a 25-50 bird population in Wolkberg, Limpopo Province. It generally prefers Afromontane forest, especially the canopies of yellowwood (Podocarpus) trees, such as Small-leaved yellowwood (Afrocarpus falcatus).

Distribution of Cape parrot in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Call

 
   

Recorded by Clem Hagner, [ Transvaal Museum]

 

Food 

It feeds exclusively on fruit, mainly foraging in the early morning and late afternoon. It occasionally forages in mixed-species flocks, with Knysna turacos and African green pigeons. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Fruit
    • Afrocarpus falcatus (Small-leaved yellowwood)
    • Podocarpus latifolius (Broad-leaved yellowwood)
    • Celtis africana (White-stinkwood)
    • Pteroxylon obliquum (Sneezewood)
    • Scutia myrtina (Cat-thorn)
    • Apodytes dimidiata (White-pear)
    • Calodendrum capense (Cape-chestnut)
    • Ficus craterostoma (Forest fig)
    • Chionanthus peglerae (Giant pock-ironwood)
    • Greyia sutherlandii (Glossy bottlebrush)
    • Commiphora woodii (Forest corkwood)
    • Eugenia zuluensis (Paper-back myrtle)
    • Harpephyllum caffrum (Wild-plum)
    • Erythrina lysistemon (Sacred coral-tree)
    • Erythrina caffra (Coastal coral-tree)
    • Mimusops caffra (Coast red-milkwood)
    • Ocotea bullata (Stinkwood)
    • Olea capensis (Small ironwood)
    • Pittosporum viridiflorum (Cheesewood)
    • Podocarpus henkelii (Drooping-leaved yellowwood)
    • Pseudolachnostylis maprounifelia (Kudu-berry)
    • Protea caffra (Common protea)
    • Prunus africana (African almond)
    • Rapanea melanophloeos (Cape-beech)
    • Alien trees
      • Acacia mearnsii (Black wattle)
      • Melia azedarach (Persian lilac)

Breeding

  • It nests in pre-existing tree holes, especially in yellowwoods (Podocarpus). The felling of yellowwood trees is the main reason for its Endangered status, as it results in difficulty in location of nesting sites, leading to a poor reproductive rate.
  • Egg-laying season is year-round, peaking from August-February.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated by by the female only, for 28-30 days.
  • The chicks stay in the nest for 55-79 days, and are fed mainly on Broad-leaved yellowwood kernels (Afrocarpus falcatus) and seeds of Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii). They probably remain dependent on their parents up to a year after fledging, although this has not been confirmed.

Threats

Range-restricted and Endangered, caused mainly by habitat loss, low reproductive success, the cage bird trade and persecution. For more information on its conservation, visit the Cape Parrot Working Group.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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