Green racquet-tail (Prioniturus luconensis)

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Pair of green racquet-tails
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Green racquet-tail fact file

Green racquet-tail description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusPrioniturus (1)

A member of the colourful and charismatic parrot family, the green racquet-tail is not as strikingly bright as many other parrot species, but is an attractive bird nevertheless. It has mostly yellowish-green plumage, which is brightest on the head and breast and slightly darker on the wings and tail (2) (4). Two of the feathers in the tail are elongated and end in broad, flattened, blackish tips. These ‘racquet-shaped’ feathers, after which this bird was named, protrude far from the rest of the tail feathers that are tipped with dark blue (2). The strongly hooked bill is pale greyish (2) (5), and may sometimes be used, along with its strongly gripping feet, when climbing trees (5). Female green racquet-tails are more uniformly green than males, while juveniles can easily be distinguished by the lack of any elongated racquet-shaped feathers (2). The green racquet-tail calls with a rather harsh squawk, intermixed with screeches and more tuneful notes (4).

Spanish
Lorito-momoto de Luzón.
Size
Length: 29 cm (2)
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Green racquet-tail biology

Very little is known about the biology of this forest-dwelling parrot. Parrots typically have narrow and pointed wings, which enables them to fly with speed and agility through the forest as they search for food (5). This species is known to feed on fruit, particularly bananas, as well as rice and the flowers and seeds of growing corn (2).

The little information available regarding breeding in the green racquet-tail suggests that the main breeding season may fall in April and May; a female collected in April contained an egg almost ready for laying, and a young individual has been seen in May (6).

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Green racquet-tail range

Once known to be widespread and abundant on the islands of Luzon and Marinduque in the northern Philippines (2) (4), the range and numbers of the green racquet-tail have since declined significantly (4). Today, this rare parrot appears to be restricted to the Sierra Madre Mountains on Luzon, and it may be extinct on the island of Marinduque (4).

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Green racquet-tail habitat

The green racquet-tail mainly inhabits primary forest (2), where it has been recorded from 300 metres above sea level up to over 1,000 metres (4). Occasionally it may be seen out in open cultivated areas, where it searches for food (2), and has also been recorded from selectively logged and degraded forest (2).

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Green racquet-tail status

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

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Green racquet-tail threats

The green racquet-tail is another victim of the ubiquitous threat of habitat loss, compounded by the impacts of trapping for the cagebird trade (2) (7). Numerous forest-dwelling species are threatened in the Philippines as habitat has been devastated by extensive commercial logging (8). Forest cover in the Sierra Madre mountains, the stronghold of this species, has declined by 83 percent since the 1930s (4). Most of the remaining patches of forest are under logging concession, or may be impacted by plans to build major roads (4). Even within protected areas the green racquet-tail is not safe from the detrimental impacts of human activities; a new road development near Subic Bay Naval Forest Reserve in Luzon has resulted in an increase in illegal logging in the region (4).

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Green racquet-tail conservation

The largest remaining population of green racquet-tails is found within Subic Bay Naval Forest Reserve (2), although, as mentioned above, this does not entirely protect the parrot’s forest habitat (6). It also occurs in Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park and, in the past, Quezon National Park, although a lack of recent records suggest that it may now be extinct in this area (4). To mitigate the threats of capture for the bird trade, the export of any wild animals and plants from the Philippines is prohibited (7), and this species is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that any international trade in the green racquet-tail should be carefully monitored (3). Despite these measures, this bird remains vulnerable to extinction and further measures, such as the protection of other key populations and improved efforts to prevent illegal logging, have been recommended (4).

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

For further information on conservation in the Philippines see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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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

Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4: Sandgrouse To Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (June, 2007)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Birdlife International (August, 2008)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=1436&m=0
  5. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  6. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
  7. Snyder, N., McGowan, P., Gilardi, J. and Grajal, A. (2000) Parrots: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan 2000-2004. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  8. Mittermeier, R.A., Robles-Gil, P., Hoffmann, M., Pilgrim, J.D., Brooks, T.M., Mittermeier, C.G., Lamoreux, J.L. and Fonseca, G. (2004) Hotspots Revisited: Earth's Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Ecoregions. Cemex, Mexico City.
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Image credit

Pair of green racquet-tails  
Pair of green racquet-tails

© Leif Gabrielsen

Leif Gabrielsen
http://www.aves.no

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