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Ultramarine Lorikeet Vini ultramarina
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This species is classified as Endangered because it only survives on two or three tiny islands (both reintroductions) and the tiny populations on two of these may become extirpated in the near future (if they have not already done so), as black rats have recently become established. Its overall population trend is difficult to assess, but it is likely to be undergoing a long-term continuing decline. It would be uplisted to Critically Endangered if black rats reached Ua Huka, the most important islands.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

18 cm. Sharp-tailed parakeet. Light cerulean-blue upperparts and forehead, dark navy-blue nape and underparts. Cheeks, breast, and flanks heavily mottled with white. Red bill, eyes, and feet. Voice Very high-pitched whistle and harsh screech.

Distribution and population
Vini ultramarina is endemic to the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. On Ua Pou, it numbered 250-300 pairs in 1975, was rare in 1990 (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Seitre and Seitre 1991) and was not found in 1998 (Te Manu 1998 24:1). On Nuku Hiva, it numbered 70 birds in 1972-1975 but could not be found in 1990 or in 2004 (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Seitre and Seitre 1991, Ziembicki and Raust 2004). Recent records - three from Ua Pou (including one pair) in 1999 (Te Manu 1999 27:1), one in one week of searching there in 2000 (Ziembicki and Raust 2004) and one from Nuku Hiva (at least three birds) in 1998 (Te Manu 1998 24:1) - may be vagrant birds from Ua Huka rather than relictual populations (J.-C. Thibault in litt. 2000). It was (re)introduced to Ua Huka in the 1940s (a single captive pair), where the population was c.200-250 pairs in the early 1970s and c.1,300 birds in 1991 (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Thibault 1988, Kuehler et al. 1997). By 2004 the species had slightly increased to 1,763 - 2,987 individuals (Ziembicki and Raust 2004) and has remained relatively stable since, with 2,094 individuals reported in 2009 (T. Doukas in litt. 2010). It was further (re)introduced to Fatu Hiva (29 birds) in the 1990s (Kuehler and Lieberman 1993), where 51 birds were counted in 1997 (Kuehler et al. 1997) but, by 2000 when rats had become established, fewer than 10 were seen in Omoa Valley; in 2004 the population was estimated at 3-10 individuals, and in 2007 it was considered extinct there (Ziembicki and Raust 2004, P. Raust in litt. 2007, J.-Y. Meyer and J.-C. Thibault unpublished data).

Population justification
There are 2,094 individuals on Ua Huka alone, and so the total population is placed in the band 1,000-2,499 individuals. This equates to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
All of the population is on one island where the species is stable, on other islands it has recently been extirpated. The overall trend is suspected to be a slow and ongoing decline. If black rats reach Ua Huka the decline will be rapid and severe.

It feeds on a wide variety of flowering trees on nectar and pollen, preferring flowers of the coconut palm, banana and native Hibiscus tileaceus and fruit, especially mango; as well as on flowers, buds and insects (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Pratt et al. 1987, Ziembicki and Raust 2004, Doukas et al. in litt. 2010). It nests in tree-cavities preferring Artocarpus altilis, Pometia pinnata, Pandanus tectorius and Hibiscus tileacus (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Pratt et al. 1987, Ziembicki and Raust 2004).

It is likely that black rat Rattus rattus is responsible for its decline, being present on Nuku Hiva since c.1915, on Ua Pou (probably) since 1980, on a motu a few hundred metres from Ua Huka (Seitre and Seitre 1991), and confirmed, for the first time, on Fatu Hiva in February 2000 (Thibault and Meyer 2000). All islands have been devastated by very high levels of grazing and fire, and much of the original dry forest has been reduced to grassland, and extensive damage has been caused even to upland forests (WWF/IUCN 1994-1995). Were the black rat to colonise Ua Huka patterns observed on other islands would indicate that the species would decline almost to extinction within 20 years (Ziembicki and Raust 2004). Additional threats including the clearing of some sections of habitat in order to plant crops and trees for food, and wood carvings for tourism (Doukas et al. in litt. 2010).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. In 1992-1994, 29 birds were translocated to Fatu Hiva (Kuehler and Lieberman 1993) and a follow-up survey was conducted in 1997 (Kuehler et al. 1997), after the arrival of black rats on the island a trapping program was intitated in 2002 in the Punahitahi vally to help conserve the Fatu Iva Monarch Pomarea whitneyi which might have had some marginal benefit for this species, were it still extant on that island (Ziembicki and Raust 2004). The local council at the port on Ua Huka have been issued with rat traps to help prevent the accidental introduction black rats to that island (Ziembicki and Raust 2004). One local person has been employed in the rat control program on Fatu Hiva and posters of the species have been distributed to schools and community centres on Fatu Hiva and Ua Huka (Ziembicki and Raust 2004). Conservation Actions Proposed
Consider the possibility of translocation to the nearby island of Mohotani only if cats and rats are completely eradicated from this island (SPREP 1999). On Fatu Hiva, continue to control rats, expand trapping to also include the Omoa Valley (Thibault and Meyer 2000). On Ua Huka, monitor the population and take all precautions to prevent invasion by rats by installing and monitoring additional traps around the wharfs. Install robust rat-resistant artificial nest boxes so that in the event of black rat invasion on Ua Huka, a small population of Vini that may have adapted to use the boxes may survive.  Develop a captive breeding population to support future reintroduction and supplementation attempts.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1997. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Holyoak, D. T.; Thibault, J. -C. 1984. Contribution à l'étude des oiseaux de Polynésie orientale. Memoires du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle - Serie A: Zoologie 127: 1-209.

Kuehler, C.; Lieberman, A. 1993. Ultramarine Lory update. Re-introduction News: 12.

Kuehler, C.; Lieberman, A.; Varney, A.; Unitt, P.; Sulpice, R. M.; Azua, J.; Tehevini, B. 1997. Translocation of Ultramarine Lories Vini ultramarina in the Marquesas Islands: Ua Huka and Fatu Hiva. Bird Conservation International 7: 69-80.

Pratt, H. D.; Bruner, P. L.; Berrett, D. G. 1987. A field guide to the birds of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Seitre, R.; Seitre, J. 1991. Causes de disparition des oiseaux terrestres de Polynésie Française. South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Nouméa.

SPREP. 1999. Proceedings of the Polynesian Avifauna Conservation Workshop held in Rarotonga, 26-30 April 1999.

Thibault, J. -C. 1988. Menaces et conservation des oiseaux de Polynésie Française. In: Thibault, J.-C.; Guyot, I. (ed.), Livre rouge des oiseaux menacés des régions françaises d'outre-mer, pp. 87-124. Conseil International pour la Protection des Oiseaux, Saint-Cloud.

Thibault, J.-C.; Meyer, J.-Y. 2000. The arrival of the black rat (Rattus rattus) on Fatuiva, Marquesas Islands. Bulletin de la Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie (Te Manu) 31: 5-7.

WWF/IUCN. 1994-1995. Centres of plant diversity: a guide and strategy for their conservation. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Ziembicki, M.; Raust, P. 2004. Conservation of the Ultramarine Lory in the Marquesas Islands. PsittaScene 16: 11-14.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A.

Raust, P., Thibault, J., Albar, G., Gouni, A., Doukas, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Vini ultramarina. Downloaded from on 24/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/04/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Ultramarine lorikeet (Vini ultramarina) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author (Kuhl, 1820)
Population size 1000-2499 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 160 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species