Population status

Although trends in the population size of the Cape Parrot are particularly important because of its Endangered status, like all parrot populations, Cape Parrot numbers are difficult to estimate (Casagrande & Beissinger 1997).

Birds fly long distances between nesting, roosting and feeding areas (Chapman et al. 1989, Casagrande & Beissinger 1997). 

Breeding success is low and populations are considered to be declining (Wirminghaus et al. 1999; Wirminghaus et al. 2000b). Accurate estimates of population size are difficult because the standard bird census techniques are inappropriate as the birds are not predictable in their occurrence at particular forests (Casagrande & Beissinger 1997). 

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A flock of Cape Parrots, photographed 50 years ago

Therefore numbers and presence are determined during annual intensive national surveys, held since 1997, in the form of the Cape Parrot Big Birding Day. Present distributions in forest fragments reflect past distribution in a large mosaic of forest patches in the Eastern Cape (now includes the ex-Transkei), Limpopo Province and KwaZulu-Natal.

The Cape Parrot is not represented by a metapopulation as the birds are able to visit various forests and the subpopulations do not seem isolated with the exception of those in the Limpopo Province (Meffe & Carroll 1997).