Day #2: First-Ever Footage of Africa’s Most Endangered Parrot Feeding in High Canopy…

On the second day of filming and observation the female Cape parrot came much closer… Here is 20 seconds of amazing footage of her calling about 15 feet away from us. We witnessed her close-up on-and-off for an hour and were both shaking when we eventually left the cliff. The reason she had approached so close was that I had put up colored cardboard silhouettes of Cape Parrot in the branches hanging over the cliff we were perched on. In this short clip you from extremely rare footage she keeps on looking at the fake parrots and calling at them to provoke a response, saying something like, “Well don’t just stare at us! Are you going to join us? This is my feeding patch, but you are welcome… Who are you?!” Eventually she flew off in frustration and continued screeching in a nearby yellowwood tree. The male parrot that had interacted with us the day before simply ate yellowwood fruits a few meters further away. We had been too scared to move when she was in front of us, but could now get the speakers ready to playback some of her calls. This brought her back, in a flash of green-and-gold, for another frustrating “conversation” with the rude parrots! A truly amazing experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. We have been able to do this several times since them and are looking at using our ability to “call-in” Cape parrots as a conservation tool, establishing new, better feeding sites by helping the parrots find them. These intelligent birds share information freely with each other and there are perhaps too few parrots around today for them to effectively explore and utilize the remaining Afromontane forest patches. We need to do everything we can to stimulate positive change for Cape Parrots in the wild…


Cape Parrot cardboard cut-outs used to attract them in to new feeding sites in indigenous habitat. (Steve Boyes)

Introduction to Cape Parrot Project:

Steve Boyes
One of the first images of a Cape Parrot feeding in the high canopy of an ancient, emergent yellowwood tree. These trees are so scarce now that the parrots no longer actively searching for them as a food resource. (Steve Boyes)

“Africa’s Most Endangered Parrot Revealed Like Never Before…”:

Steve Boyes
First-ever photograph of a Cape parrot feeding in the high canopy of a yellowwood tree. We had found an emergent yellowwood with fruit right next to a 50m cliff. We called the parrot in and enjoyed three days with them feeding right in front of us. Stunning! (September 2009) (Steve Boyes)

National Geographic “On Assignment” news piece on Cape Parrot Project:

Rodnick Biljon
15 May: Female Cape parrot feeding on the nutritious, oily kernel of the yellowwood fruit. This consumption has been linked to breeding successes in the 2009/2010 breeding season. This fruit also has strong anti-microbial action that could help stave off beak and feather disease infection… (Rodnick Biljon)

National Geographic video on Cape Parrot Project:

Steve Boyes
Cape parrot super food! Macrocarpus yellowwood fruits are nutritious and have strong anti-microbial activity. The disappearance of this food item from their diet may be linked to the beak and feather disease epidemic they are experiencing? (Steve Boyes)

15-minute insert on the Cape Parrot Project for a popular nature show in South Africa:

Rodnick Biljon
28 June: The future of the species in a stunning pair of Cape parrots. In 2012, we recorded a high proportion of juvenile parrots in feeding flocks, but did not se these parrots in 2011. We hope that the yellowwood fruits in King William’s Town have stimulated breeding attempts in the Amathole mountains… (Rodnick Biljon)

Please consider donating to the Cape Parrot Project via World Parrot Trust or Wild Bird Trust (Ref: CPP)… 100% of donations go to the Cape parrot conservation…

Rodnick Biljon
Cape parrots are only found in South Africa in areas with high mountains and old-growth Afromontane forest dominated by yellowwoods. There are less than 1,000 remaining in the wild. Please watch this important video about the Cape Parrot Project. (Rodnick Biljon)


“We need to do everything we can to guarantee that these shining, amazing parrots are screeching loudly above the yellowwood forests of South Africa forever.”


Steve Boyes
Aerial photograph taken during the 2010 aerial survey with the Bateleurs ( over Hogsback Village. On the right is the Aukland Forest reserve with some large yellowwoods remaining and the new smallholdings on the left with domesticated fruit and nut trees. Cape Parrots are having to rely on the smallholdings, as the forest fruits are too few and are hard to find. (Steve Boyes)

Community-based conservation work being done:

Steve Boyes / Cape Parrot Project
Hala Village in the valleys below Hogsback Mountain where Cape parrots used to feed on yellowwood fruits, Celtis fruits, wild olives, and wild plums before they were chopped out by greedy colonists or burnt under communal land ownership. We have now planted thousands of indigenous fruit trees in “Cape Parrot Community Orchards” in several villages, fencing them off to protect them from livestock and paying local communities to care for them as the custodians of these forest plots. We have also launched a micro-nursery program that builds small tree nurseries for ten households in the village, which are stocked with yellowwood seedlings that must be grown up to planting size. These partnerships are all going from strength to strength. (Steve Boyes / Cape Parrot Project)

Cape Parrot Project logoWe would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders, sponsors and partners in the Cape Parrot Project, including: Prins Bernhard Natuurfonds, Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund, Mazda Wildlife Fund, Abax Foundation, Rance Timber, University of Fort Hare, Cape Parrot Working Group, BirdLife Border, Border Rural Committee, and many charitable donors from around the world… Please help us find new sources of funding to support sustained growth in the work of the Cape Parrot Project.   Please consider donating to the Cape Parrot Project via World Parrot Trust or Wild Bird Trust (Ref: CPP)… 100% of donations go to the Cape Parrot Project!!!

Human Journey


Meet the Author
Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.