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Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
This taxon occurs as two subspecies: subspecies tanganyikae is found in south-east Kenya, Wasiri Island (Juniper and Parr 1998), Zanzibar and Pemba in eastern Tanzania (where common and widespread (N. Baker in litt. 1999)), south Malawi and Mozambique (north of the River Save); and subspecies cryptoxanthus is known from south-east Zimbabwe and Mozambique (south of the River Save) to north-east South Africa (Swaziland, Zululand and Transvaal) (del Hoyo et al. 1997, Wilkinson in litt. 1998, Juniper and Parr 1998)). The only substantial population in South Africa is estimated at 1,500-2,000 birds, and is confined to the Kruger National Park (Wilkinson in litt. 1998). However, south of the River Save in Mozambique, the population was estimated at over 20,000 individuals in the 1990s (Parker 1999) and was thought to be increasing because it exploits fruit and grain crops and nests in alien coconut trees, despite being hunted and captured for export as a cagebird (Harrison et al. 1997).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be locally common (del Hoyo et al. 1997).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

The species occurs in flocks of 4-12, sometimes up to 40 (Fry et al. 1988), in semi-arid and subhumid bush, thornveld, open wooded savanna and woodland, including areas with large baobabs or figs, riparian forest, coconut and cashew-nut plantations, smallholdings and mangroves up to 1,200 m (del Hoyo et al. 1997). It feeds on seeds such as Erythrina and Adansonia, nuts, fruits and berries (particularly figs Ficus and Pseudocadia zambesica), pods of Acacia and Albizia gummifera, nectar and green shoots of trees (del Hoyo et al. 1997). It is known to raid millet and maize crops (del Hoyo et al. 1997). It breeds April-October depending on the locality (Juniper and Parr 1998) and clutch size is 2-3 (del Hoyo et al. 1997).

The species is increasingly vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation (Juniper and Parr 1998), with illegal capture for the bird trade of concern in Mozambique (Wilkinson in litt. 1998).

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1997. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Fry, C. H.; Keith, S.; Urban, E. K. 1988. The birds of Africa vol III. Academic Press, London.

Harrison, J. A.; Allan, D. G.; Underhill, L. G.; Herremans, M.; Tree, A. J.; Parker, V.; Brown, C. J. 1997. The atlas of southern African birds. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.

Juniper, T.; Parr, M. 1998. Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Parker, V. 1999. The atlas of the birds of Sul do Save, southern Mozambique. Avian Demography Unit and Endangered Wildlife Trust., Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M. & Symes, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Poicephalus cryptoxanthus. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Brown-headed parrot (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author (Peters, 1854)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,180,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change