Archived 2012-2013 topics: Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri): request for information

This discussion was first published as part of the 2012 Red List update, but remains open for comment to enable reassessment in 2013. BirdLife species factsheet for Red-breasted Parakeet Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri is a widespread resident of a variety of forest and wooded habitats, including human-altered areas, in northern South Asia, much of Indochina, southern China and parts of western Indonesia. It is listed as Least Concern on the basis that it does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria. This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). The Red-breasted Parakeet is regarded as the commonest psittacine species in parts of its range; however, substantial declines were noted in Thailand and Laos prior to the turn of the century and local extinctions have occurred (e.g. on Java and Bali) owing to capture for the live bird trade (Juniper and Parr 1998). More recently the species has been described as on the verge of extirpation in Hainan province, China, having been rediscovered there (J. Fellowes in litt. 2010). Further information on this species’s status is requested from throughout its range, including data and observations on the severity of threats and population trends. Any evidence pointing towards an overall decline approaching 30% (typically 20-29%) over three generations, estimated by BirdLife to be c.23 years, would likely make the species eligible for uplisting to Near Threatened under criterion A. If evidence indicates a decline of at least 30% over three generations the species would qualify for uplisting to at least Vulnerable. Reference: Juniper, T. and Parr, M. (1998) Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Robertsbridge, UK: Pica Press.

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9 Responses to Archived 2012-2013 topics: Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri): request for information

  1. Hugo Rainey says:

    Red-breasted parakeet remains common in northern Cambodia where forest remains in proximity to open forest or agriculture. Loss of forest cover and forest fragmentation are likely to accelerate in Cambodia in coming years as many large agro-industrial concessions have been granted recently. This will increase pressure on this species. If this species is being considered for uplisting, then the other three Psittacula in Cambodia (P. eupatria, finschii and roseata) could also be considered if their ranges are of similar size. They are less common than P. alexandri.

  2. P.M.Laad says:

    Redbreasted Parakeets are found in foothlls and adjoining plains of Himalaya from Uttarakhand to Arunachal Pradesh of India. They can be seen easily in this area.However there is no record to state any rise or fall in their numbers.I have photographed them at three different places.

  3. Simon Mahood says:

    The situation in Vietnam is similar to the situation in Cambodia – it is still the commonest parakeet by a considerable margin. Although I do not doubt that it has undergone a decline. P. finschii is probably in a worse state, since it is scarcer overall, has poorly understood local movements and is commonly trapped in the parts of its range which coincide with higher elevation areas – where trapping birds is a more commonplace traditional activity.

  4. Ding Li Yong says:

    In the Greater Sundas, data on population trends is scanty and i am not aware of recent information from South Kalimantan where the species occur. In Singapore, it is established and has seen a steady population increase since the 1990s when it was uncommon. There is now a number of roosts of this species with roosting individuals in the hundreds, and may outnumber long-tailed parakeet. Ability to persist even in urban areas, and corroborated with abundance across most parts of its range suggest that the species may not warrant any change of threat status.

  5. Carol Inskipp and Hem Sagar Baral says:

    Red-breasted Parakeet is a local and uncommon resident in Nepal. In a draft assessment for the Nepal bird Red Data Book which is currently being researched and written (to be published by the Zoological Society of London), it was categorized as either Vulnerable or Near-threatened. The assessment was based on a significant decline in population since the 1980s. Red-breasted Parakeet was considered the common parakeet in the foothills and seen in flocks of 50 to 200 birds in the1970s and locally fairly common in 1991. Almost all recent records are from three areas and from 75 m to 365 m: in the east, Chitwan valley and Bardia National Park. There are single records from other localities in the past e.g. Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve and Kailali District. In the east it was described as a common local migrant from January to June in Morang District in the 1970s and was regularly recorded from north of Sunischare, Jhapa District in the 1970s and 1980s, but since then there have been significantly fewer recent records, despite an increase in observer coverage. There are two recent records of Red-breasted Parakeet from Bardia National Park: two birds in January 2001 and the species was also recorded in 2011, but numbers in the park must be very small; there are no earlier records from the park. Currently the species is most frequent in the Chitwan Valley (which includes Chitwan National Park, Parsa Wildlife Reserve and the adjoining districts of Makwanpur and Nawalparasi), where relatively high numbers have been recorded compared to the rest of Nepal. The largest number of 1800 was recorded in February 2005 and smaller numbers of 50 to 200 birds continue to be seen in the park. However numbers are still lower than in the early 1980s when the species was considered very common in the park and confirmed breeding there. Hunting and trapping are major threats to the species and it is also threatened by forest losses.
    The above information is a summary of the species account written for the Nepal bird Red Data Book- a full account including references has been sent to Stuart Butchart and Mike Crosby at BirdLife.

  6. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were sent by Will Duckworth on 24 November 2011:

    From a purely Lao perspective this would certainly rank as VU and perhaps even EN. I agree with Hugo Rainey that “If this species is being considered for uplisting, then the other three Psittacula in Cambodia (P. eupatria, finschii and roseata) could also be considered if their ranges are of similar size. They are less common than P. alexandri.” However P. finschii remains much more widespread in Lao than any other, and I would like to modify Simon Mahood’s comment that “P. finschii is probably in a worse state, since it is scarcer overall, has poorly understood local movements and is commonly trapped in the parts of its range which coincide with higher elevation areas – where trapping birds is a more commonplace traditional activity” – as far as I can piece together the little available info, it seems that Red-breasted Parakeet was present widely in the northern half of Lao but because of [its] dependence on valley bottoms and the coincidence of these for agricultural conversion it has now been wiped out almost entirely from this largely hilly/mountainous area. Grey-headed survives in this region because of its wider altitudinal range and tolerance for more rugged terrain. However, that one’s days are numbered in the northern highlands too.

  7. Paul Thompson says:

    This species remains reasonably common in tea estate areas in northeast Bangladesh and especially in the hilltracts in the southeast (where there are newspaper reports of very large flocks in some seasons when there are ripening crops). I am not aware of any data to indicate a trend in Bangladesh, but larger trees in these areas continue to be reduced in number, and this species is targetted for the cage bird market.

  8. RED-BREASTED PARAKEET

    Red-breasted Parakeet was assessed as Vulnerable based on the criteria A2a,c in a draft species account prepared for the Nepal bird Red Data Book. This draft assessment was upheld at the October 2012 workshop held to discuss over 240 draft Nepal species accounts. The following text is extracted from the full Red-breasted Parakeet species account which is available for download from the front page of Himalayan Nature: http://himalayannature.org/ A distribution map showing pre- and post-1990 distribution is also available here.

    STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION Red-breasted Parakeet has undergone a significant decline in population and distributional range since the 1980s. The species is now a local and uncommon resident with its main population in Chitwan National Park. Since 1990 it has also been recorded marginally in Bardia National Park and Parsa Wildlife Reserve. There are few post-1990 records outside the protected areas’ system.

    THREATS Hunting including trapping which are illegal in protected areas are major threats to the species. It is easier to catch than other species and because of its nasal voice it is a popular cage bird in Nepal. Its movements in large flocks during winter months and its habit of calling frequently when breeding make the species susceptible to trappers and poachers. Crop raiding by this species is another issue which prompts farmers to persecute it. Red-breasted Parakeet is also suffering from forest losses.

    Carol Inskipp and Hem Sagar Baral

  9. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were received from Craig Robson on 11 August 2013:

    I still think of Red-breasted Parakeet as being ‘safe’ at present. Until recently it was still by far the commonest Psittacula in southern Vietnam for example. At Cat Tien NP, we would see flocks of 100s leaving and returning to the safety of the park. They seem to go out into the surrounding farmland to raid crops (corn?). It is wide-ranging, and I have seen it recently in the foothills of the western Himalayas (Sat Tal near Naini Tal). I imagine that populations in Myanmar are still good. The fact that we record relatively few on our tour is probably just due to the site range that we visit. They are found in some relatively trashy habitat compared to some of the other parakeets. I can’t really prove it, but I doubt that it is more threatened than any of the other parakeets in Myanmar, and it ought to be the commonest/most widespread.

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