Antipodes island parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor)

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Antipodes Island parakeet
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Antipodes island parakeet fact file

Antipodes island parakeet description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusCyanoramphus (1)

Also known as the Antipodes green parakeet, this parakeet is a plump bird with a green head and body, but with purplish-blue wing-coverts and some flight feathers (2) (4). The forehead and face are a bright emerald green, while the rest of the plumage is a more olive colour, being yellower below (4). This bird is the largest of its genus (5), and produces a wide range of chattering calls, lower-pitched than other Cyanoramphus species (2).

Also known as
Antipodes green parakeet, Antipodes parakeet, green parakeet.
Synonyms
Platycercus unicolor.
Spanish
Perico de las Antípodas.
Size
Size: 32 cm (2)
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Antipodes island parakeet biology

The tussock and sedges are not only used for nesting sites, but also constitute the bulk of the diet, supplemented with seeds, berries and flowers (2). In addition, the Antipodes island parakeet will occasionally scavenge on carcasses and eggs of penguins and petrels (5) (4). Breeding occurs from October to January and, in captivity (4), clutch-size is between five and six, but only one to three fledged young are normally seen with adults in the wild (2) (4). Young are thought to start breeding at one year, and two individuals have been recorded to reach at least 10 years of age, indicating that these birds may be fairly long-lived (2).

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Antipodes island parakeet range

Endemic to the Antipodes, New Zealand. Common on the main island and Bollons Island, and found in small numbers on Leeward, Inner Windward and Archway islets (2).

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Antipodes island parakeet habitat

Occupies a variety of habitats on the islands, but most common in the tall, tussock grassland and sedges (2), especially on coastal slopes and along water courses (4). Nesting typically takes place in underground burrows, dug into the base of tussock or sedge (2) (5).

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Antipodes island parakeet status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU D2) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Antipodes island parakeet threats

In 1978, the total population of these birds was estimated at 2,000 to 3,000 birds and, although population trends are unknown, numbers are thought likely to be stable (2). Whilst there appears to be no immediate danger to this relatively common bird, its restricted range means that it will always be vulnerable to catastrophic loss, most likely by the accidental introduction of carnivores to the small predator-free islands, which could decimate current populations (5) (2). The fear is that fishing boats or other passing vessels could introduce predators such as rats (Rattus spp.), cats and mustelids (Mustela spp.), or mice that may compete for food (2). Although such introductions were once thought unlikely due to the islands’ isolated location, increased fishing pressure in waters around the Antipodes has greatly increased the chance of such a potentially devastating possibility (4) (2).

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Antipodes island parakeet conservation

The Antipodes island parakeet is totally protected under the Wildlife Act 1953 (6). The islands are uninhabited and protected, being nature reserves with landing strictly by permit only (2). New Zealand’s wildlife service removed approximately 11 of these birds from the islands in the 1970s and 1980s to launch a captive breeding programme that would safeguard the species from total extinction (6). There are currently more than 100 Antipodes Island parakeets in captivity, and the species appears to breed well (5). However, the release of six birds on Stephens Island in 1985 was unsuccessful (6). In 1907, 12 birds were released on Kapati Island and survived for around 20 years, but today this species no longer exists there (2). Thus, further reintroductions into the wild are a possibility for the future, if the recipe for establishing a successful population can be determined. Nevertheless, current populations of the Antipodes island parakeet appear stable, and will hopefully remain that way provided their remote island haven remains protected from human interference.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For more information on the Antipodes island parakeet see:

BirdLife International (February 2006):
http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the birds of the world, Volume 4 - Sandgrouse to cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Wing-coverts
Small feathers concealing the bases of larger primary feathers on the wings.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2006)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. BirdLife International (February, 2006)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html
  3. CITES (January, 2006)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the birds of the world, Volume 4 - Sandgrouse to cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  5. The Parrot Society of Australia (February, 2006)
    http://www.parrotsociety.org.au/articles/art_011.htm#Antipodes
  6. West, R., Tisdall, C. and Aviss, M. (1995) Captive management plan Antipodes Island parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor). Threatened Species Occasional Publication, 7: 1 - 6.
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Image credit

Antipodes Island parakeet  
Antipodes Island parakeet

© John Marris / Natural Sciences Image Library

Natural Sciences Image Library (NSIL)
5 The Mews
PO Box 100
Lincoln
Canterbury
New Zealand
Tel: +64 (3) 325 2052
Fax: +64 (3) 325 2278
sales@nsil.co.nz
http://www.nsil.co.nz

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