The Cape Parrots Of King William’s Town, South Africa

There is a lot of confusion about the classification of Cape Parrots.  In the past, there were 3 subspecies:  Poicephalus robustus robusts (Brown-headed Cape Parrots), Poicephalus robustus suahelicus and Poicephalus robustus fuscicollis (Grey-headed Cape Parrots).   Cape Parrots have now been reclassified so the Brown-headed Cape Parrots are in their own species now – Poicephalus robustus and the two Grey-headed Cape Parrots are now in their own species divided into Poicephalus fusicollis suahelicus (the Grey-headed Cape Parrots in the Limpopo region) and Poicephalus fusicollis fusicollus (Grey headed/Brown-necked parrots found in West Africa.  If all this is confusing, there is a good graph on Thor’s Cape Parrot page.

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In this post, I will be blogging about my experience with Poicephalus robustus, the Brown-headed Cape Parrots.  The distribution map below is extracted from Birdlife and I have indicated in blue the approximate range of these birds.  They breed in the Hogsback area and fly down to King William’s Town most days to forage as fruit trees are plentiful.

Hogsback & King William’s Town

There is a very active, dedicated Facebook group called Cape Parrot Project and the members are happy to advise anyone who is really interested in learning more about these amazing birds.

If you are interested in visiting this area to see the Cape Parrots, you could fly into either Port Elizabeth or East London depending on your other travel plans.  I went for Port Elizabeth and rented a car for the trip.  You could visit Hogsback or King William’s Town depending on the season and availability of guides.  These birds are much less noisy than I had anticipated and I would have had a lot of trouble locating them without the help of Rodnick Biljon from the Cape Parrots group.  He monitors them regularly and knows where to find them.  I won’t post an exact map of where they are currently found to protect the birds from potential poachers but I suggest contacting Rodnick on Facebook.

Another member of the Cape Parrot group, Joanne Stolk runs a wonderful little guest house called 2 Oaks Guesthouse which I reviewed on a separate post.  You can also expect more Cape Parrot photos and other birding opportunities in King William’s Town!