Brown-Headed Parrot

Brown-headed Parrot

Scientific Name: Poicephalus cryptoxanthus
South Africa
Average Lifespan: 10 years
Size: 9 inches
Color: Mainly green
Sounds: Vocal communicator
Interaction: Social

Brown-Headed Parrot

Photo: Florin Feneru | Flickr

Physical Characteristics of Brown-headed Parrot

Brown-headed parrot is a small sized bird that measures about 9 inches including their tiny tail. They have predominantly green body with light brown head. Their underwings are distinctively colored bright yellow, which is almost similar to their eyes. Often called as “the greenest parrot of the sub-region”, some Brown Headed Parrots display a nearly metallic green body with random yellow feather scattered on the top of the head. The tail is most commonly colored olive-brown with a dash a green on the tip. Their bill is colored black from the tip to almost the upper part, with a distinct white area emerging above.

Some Brown-headed parrots have dark greyish eyes. All juvenile of this species displays dark and almost black eyes, which turn into a lighter color like yellow or grey when they reach 1 year old. Furthermore, their upper neck area is colored light brown in their first few months, but turns to dark green as they approach maturity. The scientific name cryptoxanthus means “hidden yellow”, which refers to the yellow feathers found under its wings.

Personality and Temperament

Although almost similar to other species of the Poicephalus family in terms of behavior, the Brown-headed parrot is considered to be a little shy and a bit mild mannered. Like most parrots, this species is generally playful, active and fun loving. However, Brown Headed Parrots tend to show passiveness when interacting with people and other animals. In addition, these birds are regarded to be the best talkers in the Poicephalus family, along with the Red Bellies species. However, this does not guarantee that all members of this species will talk. Proper training and care must be invested to get the most out of its talking potential.

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Similar to most African birds, this species has the ability to mimic household sounds like ringing of the phone, buzzing of the doorbell and sounds of most home appliances. They can also produce high pitch sounds especially when they are excited and happy.

Brown Headed Parrots are extremely independent and prefer to do things on their own such as having more time to play on their cage or enclosure. They also have strong memory, so you must be careful not to physically and emotionally hurt them for they will surely hold a grudge against these actions.

Health and Care

Unlike many bird species which thrive on noisy and over active environments, Brown Headed Parrots enjoy alone time and love peaceful and calmer environments. When choosing an area to put its cage, make sure to pick the most relaxing part of the house. When interacting with people and other animals, these birds will accept cuddling and petting but in their own terms. If they show signs of dislike or unwillingness to be cuddled, never force them. They are considered to be calm and fit for children at most times, but dislike being handled by overly active people especially children.

In terms of nutrition, this species must be fed with a steady diet of seeds, nuts, berries, flowers, fruits and nectar. Foods with too much sugar and acid can be given from time to time, but not regularly. Although considered a healthy species, a once in a year general health checkup is also recommended.

History and Background

The origin of Brown-headed parrot is traced mainly from South African regions (eastern South Africa, South-eastern Africa). They are also found in Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Mali and the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.

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Due to its attractive colors and talking ability, this species is one of the most popular birds kept as pets. In recent years, a slow decline in population made it a harder bird to find in the wild.

Brown Headed Parrots gain full maturity at about two years old, but usually breed when they reach 3 to 4 years. Although some may breed all year round, most of them prefer breeding during winter season. They commonly lay eggs about 2 to 3 times annually, with an average of 3 to 4 eggs per lay. The incubation period regularly lasts to a maximum of 28 days to a month.

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