This weekend sees the 16th annual Cape Parrot Birding Day. The Cape Parrot is the only Parrot species endemic to South Africa. They are naturally found in the mist belt forests from Hogsback in the Eastern Cape to the Balgowan and Karkloof area of KwaZulu-Natal with a relic population in the Magoeboeskloof. Their numbers have declined since the 1940's, placing the Cape Parrot on the endangered list. There are several reasons for this decline in numbers, including loss or change in the quality of their habitat, illegal poaching for caged bird trade, disease, and avian predators.
Prof Colleen Downs co-ordinates the census with teams of spotters in Byrne, Bulwer, Boston, Balgowan, Dargle, Creighton and Karkloof in KwaZulu-Natal. Other volunteers cover areas in the former Transkei and in the Hogsback to Stutterheim area of the Eastern Cape. Volunteers from the local communities – will head out mid to late on Saturday afternoon to see if they can spot these striking birds and then return before dawn to recount, as these are the times the birds are most active. Cape Parrots make inter-forest movements and because of their distinctive piercing call while flying are easy to spot on these flights. Cape Parrots at a distance can be confused with African Olive Pigeons. The adult birds have orange at the bend of the wing and ankles, while females have orange on the forehead too.
Last year 245 volunteers were posted at 72 observation points, across three provinces. Volunteers from all these areas will rain, mist, snow or shine will be out on Saturday and Sunday for this Cape Parrot Census. If you would like further information or would like to get involved please contact Jenny on +27 (0)33 502 9090 (Karkloof area) / Sally on +27 (0)33 330 7175 (Midlands areas) or Colleen (overall co-ordinator).
Information kindly supplied by Prof. Colleen Downs
Prof. Colleen T. Downs
School of Life Sciences
University of KwaZulu-Natal,
Tel: +27-33-2605127/04 (w)
+27 (0)82 920 2026 (m)