What Is a Cape Parrot?

Andrew Kirmayer

The Cape Parrot is a bird that is usually about 13 inches (33 centimeters) long with a relatively large head and beak, short tail, and stocky body. Typically found in Africa, it comprises three species. An endangered type along the southern coast of South Africa is most often referred to as the Cape Parrot, while the Grey-Headed Parrot in central Africa and the Brown-Necked Parrot are generally found in northern areas. They are quite intelligent, and can learn to talk. Many people keep the birds as exotic pets and, with proper care and diet, the parrots can live up to 40 years.

The Cape Parrot is a bird that is typically found in Africa.
The Cape Parrot is a bird that is typically found in Africa.

While the respective varieties have a gray or brown neck, or a gray head, most types of Cape Parrot are light green on the bottom and dark green on the tops of their back and wings. The shoulders are usually orange, but young birds have orange on their foreheads. Females typically retain the orange while in males it fades over time. The brightness and extent of coloration can vary depending on the individual bird; some parrots may have pink highlights to their cheeks or red bands in front.

In the wild, the birds typically eat nuts and fruits. Nutritional pellets and vegetables are often suitable for feeding a caged Cape Parrot, and fruit, beans, and rice can be healthy as well. It is generally better to use a water bottle for drinking, so the fluid isn’t used for bathing or other purposes. A trait unique to the parrot is that it usually does not bite, unlike many other tropical birds, whether it is kept as a pet or lives in the wild. It often shows preference to attention by people, and sometimes has the talking ability of the larger African Gray Parrot.

If it is kept as a pet, animal experts often suggest that a Cape Parrot has a cage that is at least 18 by 18 by 24 inches (about 45.7 by 45.7 by 61.0 centimeters). Usually, it is recommended to give the bird time to be outside the cage, and toys are often beneficial for keeping the animal busy. Relative to other pet parrots, they are not usually too loud, and many people prefer a Cape Parrot to other varieties of the species. In the wild, the two subspecies have been protected by breeding programs, but the variety that retains the original name had dwindled to just a few hundred individuals as of the year 2000.

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