BirdLife South Africa Bird of the Year Cape Parrot
BirdLife South Africa
Cape Parrot Working Group
Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust
Cape Parrot Project
BirdLife Species Guardian
Cape Parrot & Mistbelt Forest Action Plan

BirdLife South Africa is pleased to announce the Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) as Bird of the Year for 2023.

The Cape Parrot (isikhwenene, upholi, Hokwe, Dikgwapa, Woudpapegaai) is endemic to South Africa, so it occurs nowhere else in the world. This beautiful parrot inhabits isolated patches of forest in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces. It is classified as Endangered and is estimated to have a remaining population of fewer than 1800 individuals.

The Cape Parrot is a medium-sized bird (~30 cm high) with a striking green body and golden head and neck. Adults have small orange patches on the shoulders and leg feathers, with females having a red patch above their beak, which is generally missing in males. They are usually seen as singletons, pairs, family groups or larger flocks. They are most often seen flying, or at roosting and feeding sites, especially at dawn or near dusk.

The Cape Parrot is typically found in the inland Afromontane forests, much of which have been heavily affected by the logging of large hardwood trees (like Yellowwoods), causing a shortage of natural nesting sites and food availability for the species. Cape Parrots are also susceptible to the highly contagious and sometimes fatal Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease.

© Cassie Carstens (Cape Parrot Project)
© Cassie Carstens (Cape Parrot Project)

Several conservation organisations and individuals are working together to protect South Africa’s Endangered Cape Parrot population. BirdLife South Africa is pleased to partner with our BirdLife Species Guardians, the Cape Parrot Working Group and the Wild Bird Trust’s Cape Parrot Project to raise awareness about this species through our Bird of the Year 2023 campaign.

The work of these Species Guardians includes initiatives, such as population monitoring, habitat restoration, the provision of nest boxes, species rehabilitation, education of the public, and community outreach, among others.

Cape Parrots are truly the bright green and gold jewels of the forest, attracting birders from around the world to South Africa, and helping to support avitourism in rural areas that rely heavily on ecotourism for sustainability. They symbolise hope and resilience, and the species persists despite decades of historical, exploitative logging.

A deserving Bird of the Year 2023, indeed.

© Cassie Carstens (Cape Parrot Project)
© Cassie Carstens (Cape Parrot Project)

Throughout 2023, BirdLife South Africa, together with our Bird of the Year partners, will create awareness about the Cape Parrot through the production of educational materials, such as posters, infographics, and learning resources for schools that will be free to download on this page below; articles in African Birdlife magazine; social media posts; and presentations to interested groups. Cape Parrot merchandise, such as t-shirts, pin badges, and fluffy toys, will also be on sale through BirdLife South Africa’s Shop for the Birds! from January 2023.

We are extremely grateful to our Bird of the Year sponsor, the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, for once again making this initiative possible through the funds they generously donate towards BirdLife South Africa and the conservation of birds and biodiversity.


Fact Files
Colouring-in Sheets
Lesson Plans
Previous Birds of the Year

Additional previous Birds of the Year have been:

2018 – African Black Oystercatcher
2017 – Lappet-Faced Vulture
2016 – Sociable Weaver
2015 – Blue Crane
2014 – Tristan Albatross
2013 – White-winged Flufftail
2012 – African Fish Eagle
2011 – Barn Swallow
2010 – Lesser Flamingo
2009 – Cape Robin-chat
2008 – Spotted Eagle-Owl
2007 – African Penguin