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Pesquet's Parrot Psittrichas fulgidus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Vulnerable as it is suspected to be undergoing a rapid population decline over three generations (60 years) owing to hunting for feathers. Should the species be declining at a more moderate rate, due to a reduction in hunting, this species will warrant downlisting to a lower category of threat.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

46 cm. Red-and-black parrot. Bright crimson belly, inner wings and uppertail-coverts, breast scaled with grey. Alternative name "Vulturine Parrot" derives from naked head and long, hooked bill. Similar spp. Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus uniformly blackish-grey with small pink face patch and very heavy bill. Female Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus has bright red head and blue body. Crows Corvus spp. are all-black with straighter bills. Voice Rather like a cockatoo but quieter and softer. Hints Usually seen flying over roads and other vantage points, generally as singles or pairs but flocks of up to 20 have been recorded.

Distribution and population
Psittrichas fulgidus is patchily distributed across New Guinea (Papua, formerly Irian Jaya, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea). It has been historically and recently extirpated from large areas, especially in Papua New Guinea (Coates 1985, Beehler et al. 1986, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994, Mack and Wright 1998). It is generally rare and seen in small numbers (birds are wide-ranging) (B. Beehler in litt. 2007), and has shown recent rapid declines in some areas such as Ok Tedi (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994, Gregory 1995a). The only population estimate is based on two pairs inhabiting 14 km2 at Crater Mountain. Extrapolation suggests a total population of 21,000 pairs (Mack and Wright 1998). However, this may have been an overestimate as the Crater Mountain birds sometimes foraged elsewhere, the species is atypically common at this site and is absent from many hunted areas (Mack and Wright 1998). Conversely, it may be an underestimate by not accounting for substantial populations at lower altitudes (B. Beehler in litt. 2000).

Population justification
Pryor et al. (2001).

Trend justification
This species is under severe hunting pressure for feathers, and to a lesser extent trade and meat. Hunting for feathers has increased with population growth and an increasing number of tourists. Together these factors are suspected to be driving a rapid and on-going population reduction.

It is restricted to hill and lower montane forest (Mack and Wright 1998, B. Beehler in litt. 2000). At lower altitudes it appears to occur only in hills and at the base of mountains (Burrows 1995, Mack 1998, B. Beehler in litt. 2000). It is an extremely specialised frugivore, feeding only on a very few species of fig, and is probably seasonally nomadic. It nests in large, hollow trees and may have a lifespan of 20-40 years (Mack and Wright 1998).

The major threat is hunting for feathers (Coates 1985, Beehler et al. 1986, Mack and Wright 1998), which are used for ornamentation, particularly in ceremonial head-dresses, in much of the Papua New Guinea Highlands and, in some areas, for skins, which are used as bride prices (Schmid 1993). Demand may increase as the population grows, however, the plumes of this species are not worn as commonly as those of other birds (M. Supuma in litt. 2012) and many feathers may be decades old as they are tend to be carefully stored when not being used (B. Beehler in litt. 2012). In addition, hunting levels have decreased since the introduction of a law preventing the killing of birds with non-traditional means (i.e. shotguns). Tourist shows and cultural events have increased in recent years, which may increase demand for plumes, and birds or feathers are occasionally sold to tourists (van den Bergh 2009) although it is illegal to take them out of the country. Despite demand being generally lower in Papua, birds are also hunted for the cage-bird trade and meat (Nash 1992, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994). Nestlings are captured by felling trees or enlarging nest-cavities, and the scarcity of suitable nest-sites could become a limiting factor. Deforestation is a less major threat to the species since loggers usually leave fig trees (B. Beehler in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The Crater Mountain study have published conservation recommendations (Mack and Wright 1998).Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to improve the accuracy of the population estimate. Research the species's basic ecology, especially any feeding specialism. Research the feather trade. Monitor numbers at surveyed sites such as Crater Mountain and Kikori. Monitor numbers traded domestically and internationally. Control transport of threatened species on domestic flights. Run an education programme to dissuade tourists from buying feathers and artefacts. Investigate suitability of a programme to substitute artificial or dyed feathers (Mack and Wright 1998).

Beehler, B. M.; Pratt, T. K.; Zimmerman, D. A. 1986. Birds of New Guinea. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Burrows, I. 1995. A field survey of the avifauna of the Kikori river basin.

Coates, B. J. 1985. The birds of Papua New Guinea, 1: non-passerines. Dove, Alderley, Australia.

Gregory, P. 1995. Further studies of the birds of the Ok Tedi area, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. Muruk 7(1): 1-38.

Mack, A. L. 1998. A biological assessment of the Lakekamu Basin, Papua New Guinea. Conservation International, Washington, DC.

Mack, A. L.; Wright, D. D. 1998. The Vulturine Parrot, Psittrichus fulgidas, a threatened New Guinea endemic: notes on its biology and conservation. Bird Conservation International 8: 185-194.

Nash, S. V. 1992. Parrot trade records for Irian Jaya, Indonesia, 1985-1990. TRAFFIC Bulletin 13: 42-45.

Pryor, G.; Levey, D. J.; Dierenfeld, E. S. 2001. Protein requirements of a specialized frugivore, Pesquet's Parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus). The Auk 118: 1080-1088.

Schmid, C. K. 1993. Birds of Nokopo. Muruk 6(2): 1-62.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A.

Beehler, B., Bishop, K., Supuma, M.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Psittrichas fulgidus. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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 - Pesquet’s parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author (Lesson, 1830)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 278,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species