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African Brown Head
Fact Sheet
Species: African brown headed parrot, Poicephalus cryptoxanthus

Subspecies: P. c. cryptoxanthus, P.c. tanganyikae, and P.c. zanzibaricus are all considered subspecies.

Description: 9" long parrot, green with a brown head.

Range: South-eastern Africa, found in parts of South Africa, Kenya, Zululand, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mali and the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.  See the range map off of the African Parrot Society website.

Habits in the Wild:  Brown heads are usually found in pairs and small groups, and seem to prefer large, tall trees; they'll usually stay in the upper reaches.  They're shy and well camouflaged, rarely seen when they're not flying from tree to tree; my own pair is wild-caught and will "play leaf" when I come in the room by lowering their bodies to their perch and standing perfectly still!  According to the Lexicon of Parrots brown heads are sometimes found flocking with Cape parrots, which I found interesting.  They feed on a variety of seeds, nuts, berries, flowers and nectar.  They also will raid millet and corn fields, and can be considered agricultural pests in some areas.

Status in the Wild:  Brown heads are increasingly rare in the wild, though they are common in some areas within their range.  The Lexicon of Parrots states that they may be extinct on the island of Zanzibar.

Noise Level:  Low.  Poicephalus in general tend to be quiet, and brown heads are no exception... In fact, if anything I've found them to be slightly quieter than average.  Their usual vocabulary generally consists of clicks, beeps, squeaks and whistles, rather than the squawks and screams of many parrots.  Keep in mind, "quiet" is a relative term; those beeps and whistles can be pretty high-pitched and obnoxious, and there are plenty of brown head owners that complain their birds are too noisy!  Still, they're very unlikely to bother the neighbors and they make good apartment pets.

Talking Ability:  Brown heads are "so-so" talkers.  Many learn to speak a few words and phrases, but many do not.  If you absolutely must have a talking parrot, brown heads are probably not a good choice.  On the other hand, almost all brown heads learn to mimic at least a few household noises such as the alarm clock, phone ringing, computer beeps etc.!

Cage Size:  For a single pet brown head that gets a fair amount of out-of-the-cage time everyday, 18" x 18" x 24" is a good minimum size.  Larger is better, and in particular if your brown head spends most of the day in it's cage, consider investing in a larger space for him.

Breeding:  A cage for a pair should be at least 2' x 2' x 3'.  This doesn't provide a great deal of flight space and larger is much better!  Most brown heads will breed in a standard cockatiel sized nestbox; however, for shyer pairs, boot-shaped boxes give the pair more security and darkness.  Brown heads can be considered mature at about 2 years old, but they may not breed until they're 3 or 4.  Brown heads, like most Poicephalus, often seem to breed in winter, though there are those that will breed year-round.  Most pairs will lay 2 or 3 times per year, with 2 being perhaps slightly more common than 3.

Clutch Size: 2 to 4 eggs is average.  From what I've heard Poicephalus pairs usually don't have a standard number of eggs that they lay in almost every clutch, like some parrots, but rather vary the number of eggs from clutch to clutch.  (My own pair has had 2, 3, and 4 egg clutches.)  Eggs are normally laid 3 days apart, but this can vary.  (Again, my own pair has varied from laying an egg the day after the one before, to laying an egg nearly a week after the one before!)

Incubation Period: Usually 28 days.

Weaning Age: Most young brown heads wean around 8-10 weeks old.