email a friend
printable version
Horned Parakeet Eunymphicus cornutus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species qualifies as Vulnerable as, although recent surveys indicate that there are likely to be over 5,000 mature individuals, the total population remains small, and is restricted to a single subpopulation which is suspected to have declined owing to habitat degradation.

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.

Taxonomic note
Eunymphicus cornutus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into E. cornutus and E. uvaeensis following Juniper and Parr (1998).

32 cm. Largely green, crested parakeet with yellower underparts and nape, bluish wings and tail, and black-and-red face mask. Two wispy, red-tipped, black crest feathers. Similar spp. New Caledonian Parakeet Cyanoramphus saisseti has no crest and different head pattern, lacking black and yellow. Voice Often located by nasal kho-khoot contact call. Also range of shrieks and chuckles. Hints Most easily seen in the Grandes Fougères Park near Farino.

Distribution and population
Eunymphicus cornutus is endemic to New Caledonia (to France). It appears to have declined since the 1880s when it was reported from all forested areas, and it has considerably reduced its range on Mt Panié (now being restricted to the north-western part of the Panié massif [Ekstrom et al. 2000, J. Theuerkauf in litt. 2012]). Its numbers and trends were poorly known and until 2003-2006 there were only two independent population estimates of 1,000-3,000 birds (Ekstrom et al. 2000) and 720 pairs (N. Barré in litt. 1999) respectively. A recent study using distance sampling density data, records, and ecological niche modelling indicates that the species has a wider distribution and is more common than previously believed (Legault et al. in press). A rough estimate produced from this study indicates that the population may number 8,000-9,000 individuals (Legault et al. in press), roughly equating to at least 5,000 mature individuals (V. Chartendault in litt. 2007). During the 2003-2006 surveys, the species was recorded from the Ignambi massif in the north to the various massifs of the Grand Sud in the south. It was recorded on 57 % of the massifs in the northern province and 42 % of the massifs in the southern province. It is absent from the Ile des Pins. It is locally common in the centre part of the "chaîne" (Mé Maoya Massif, Moindou-Farino area, Poindimié-Ponérihouen area) (Chartendrault and Barre 2005, 2006, Legault et al. 2011). Numbers have remained stable in Rivière Bleue in the last 20 years (Y. Létocart in litt. 1999).

Population justification
Legault et al. (in press) estimated the population to number c.8,000-9,000 individuals, equivalent to 5,333-6,000 mature individuals, rounded here to 5,300-6,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
It is suspected to have undergone a slow decline over the past three generations (20 years) owing to habitat degradation and perhaps also predation by invasive species.

It is patchily distributed in rainforest to 1,500 m, but it also ranges in the valleys and into savannas, low-stature forest and scrub in maquis and high mountains (M. Thiollay in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000, Ekstrom et al. 2002, Chartendrault and Barre 2005, 2006). Selects rainforest, particularly in valleys (Legault et al. 2011, Legault et al. in press). Pairs or small flocks (family flocks in April-June) feed in the canopy, largely on seeds and nuts (Ekstrom et al. 2000). Nests are sometimes on the ground, including under rocks and in fallen tree-trunks (Hannecart and Létocart 1983, O. Robinet in litt. 1999, Dutson 2011), and it has been recorded nesting in tree holes (J. M. Meriot verbally 2003). It may migrate seasonally to foraging grounds during the austral winter (June-September) (Chartendrault and Barre 2005, 2006). Birds have been seen crossing scrub between forest blocks, and it is not believed to be fragmented into distinct subpopulations (Y. Létocart in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000). Birds have been seen in large groups, feeding in savannah (V. Chartendault in litt. 2007). and the species is seen every year in the valleys, feeding in close proximity to rural dwellings and in open areas. Nest sharing has been reported in this species (Theuerkauf et al. 2009).

Populations may be declining through habitat degradation, both through logging and by introduced Rusa deer Rusa timorensis (Chartendrault and Barre 2005, 2006). Black rats occasionally prey on Horned Parakeet nest (Gula et al. 2010), although this has not been confirmed. Particularly wet (La Niña) years have been shown to reduce breeding success (J. Theuerkauf et al. in litt. 2011). There is little documented trapping or trade, and although there are captive birds on the island and birds are locally sought by collectors for trade (Pain et al. 2006), this seems to be marginal - there are no important local traditions in keeping pet birds (N. Barré in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000, Chartendrault and Barre 2005, 2006) and since the species breeds in remote areas and its nests are hard to find, poaching is unlikely to be a major threat. There is occasional illegal hunting (C. Meresse in litt. 2009). The introduction of Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) could be a threat to the species as may recently have been found in New Caledonian Parakeets C. saisseti (J. Theuerkauf in litt. 2012). 

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II, and fully protected by New Caledonian law. There are significant populations in Rivière Bleue and Reserve Speciale de Faune et de Flore de la Nodela (Ekstrom et al. 2000). Since 2005 the Loro Parque Fundación has been supporting a long-term study on the species's ecology and threats (Theuerkauf and Rouys 2008).Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey other forest blocks within its extent of occurrence and investigate dispersal between isolated forest blocks (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Ekstrom et al. 2002). Investigate the breeding biology to identify any limiting factors such as nest failures or rat predation (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Ekstrom et al. 2002). Research ecological dependence on certain tree species for nesting or feeding (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Ekstrom et al. 2002). Continue to monitor numbers in Rivière Bleue and start a monitoring programme in Nodela (Ekstrom et al. 2000, J. Ekstrom in litt. 2003). Monitor for any evidence of trapping and trade (Y. Létocart in litt. 1999, O. Robinet in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000). Consider an Action Plan similar to that of E. uvaeensis (N. Barré in litt. 1999, Y. Létocart in litt. 1999, O. Robinet in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000). Initiate control measures against introduced predators. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status and establish captive-breeding populations for future population supplementation/reintroductions.

Anon. 2011. New Caledonia: Parakeets, cats, rats, "El Niño" and "La Niña". Cyanopsitta: 16.

Bregulla, H. 1993. Die papageien Neukaledoniens. Gefiederte Welt 117: 310-313, 349-351, 381-385, 412-416.

Chartendrault, V.; Barré, N. 2006. Etude du statut et de la distribution des oiseaux des forêts humides de la province Sud de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Institut agronomique néo-calédonien, Port Laguerre, Nouvelle-Calédonie.

CITES. 2000. Prop. 11.33: Eunymphicus cornutus cornutus Transfer from Appendix II to Appendix I. COP 2000 Proposals for Amendment of Appendices I and II 11(33).

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

Dutson, G. 2011. Birds of Melanesia: Bismarcks, Solomons, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Christopher Helm, London.

Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Jones, J. P. G.; Willis, J.; Isherwood, I. 2000. The humid forests of New Caledonia: biological research and conservation recommendations for the vertebrate fauna of Grande Terre. CSB Conservation Publications, Cambridge, U.K.

Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Jones, J. P. G.; Willis, J.; Tobias, J.; Dutson, G.; Barre, N. 2002. New information on the distribution, status and conservation of terrestrial bird species in Grande Terre, New Caledonia. Emu 102: 197-207.

Gula, R., Theuerkauf, J. , Rouys, S. and Legault, A. 2010. An audio/video surveillance system for wildlife. European Journal of Wildlife Research 56: 803-807.

Hannecart, F.; Létocart, Y. 1983. Oiseaux de Nlle Caledonie et des Loyautés. Cardinalis, Nouméa.

Juniper, T.; Parr, M. 1998. Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Legault, A., J. Theuerkauf, S. Rouys, V. Chartendrault & N. Barré. 2012. Temporal variation in flock size and habitat use of parrots in New Caledonia. Condor (in press).

Legault, A., V. Chartendrault, J. Theuerkauf, S. Rouys & N. Barré. 2011. Large-scale habitat selection by parrots in New Caledonia. Journal of Ornithology 152: 409-419.

Pain, D.J.; Martins, T.L.F.; Boussekey, M.; Diaz, S.H.; Downs, C.T.; Ekstrom, J.M.M.; Garnett, S.; Gilardi, J.D.; McNiven, D; Primot, P; Rouys, S; Saoumoe, M; Symes, CT; Tamungang, SA; Theuerkauf, J; Villafuerte, D; Verfailles, L; Widmann, P; Widmann, ID. 2006. Impact of protection on nest take and nesting success of parrots in Africa, Asia and Australasia. Animal Conservation 9: 322-330.

Rouys, S.; Theuerkauf, J. 2005. Neues vom Sittichproject in Neukaladonien. ZGAP Mitteilungen 21: 16-17.

Seitre, R.; Seitre, J. 1992. Causes of land-bird extinctions in French Polynesia. Oryx 26: 215-222.

The Avicultural Society. 2003. Species Index: Non passerines. Species Index Non passerines.

Theuerkauf, J.; Rouys, S. 2005. The parakeets of New Caledonia: ecology, threats and implications for their conservation. Cyanopsitta 78: 19-20.

Theuerkauf, J.; Rouys, S. 2008. Ökologie der gefährdeten Papageien Neukaledoniens. ZGAP Mitteilungen 24(1): 18-20.

Theuerkauf, J.; Rouys, S.; Mériot, J. M.; Gula, R.; Kuehn, R. 2009. Cooperative breeding, mate guarding, and nest sharing in two parrot species of New Caldedonia. Journal of Ornithology 150.

Further web sources of information
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
Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Mahood, S., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A.

Barré, N., Chartendrault, V., Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Létocart, Y., Meresse, C., Meriot, J., Robinet, O., Spaggiari, J., Thiollay, J., Theuerkauf, J., Legault, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Eunymphicus cornutus. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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 - Horned parakeet (Eunymphicus cornutus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author (Gmelin, 1788)
Population size 5300-6000 mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 690 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species