Great billed Parrot


Great-billed Parrot 33–43 cm. Enormous bill red 

; head, nape, and mantle  bright green, shading to pale blue on back and rump and to yellowish on underparts, with yellow flanks, underwing-coverts 

and across undersides of flight-feathers; scapulars and lesser wing-coverts black, median wing-coverts black-edged yellow; greater wing-coverts and secondaries green edged yellow; primaries blue; tail above green-tipped yellow, below yellowish. Immature lacks black at the shoulder. Nominate apparently has two types of variation, which has led to the establishment of several supererogatory subspecies: in one, margins of flight-feathers are green instead of blue, (hence “viridipennis” of Tukangbesi, Madu and Kalaotoa Are, and “djampeae” of Tanahjampea and Kalao, all S of Sulawesi); in other, undersides somewhat greener (again in “djampeae” and in “Floris” of Flores). Race affinis 

has bluish tinge to head, green scapulars, lesser wing-coverts greenish-blue; subaffinis 

like affinis 

with rump very pale blue, underwing-coverts bluish; hellmayri like affinis but with yellowish-green head, greener wing covert edges; sumbensis 

like nominate but head darker green, underparts greener, rump darker blue.

Systematics History

Editor’s Note: This article requires further editing work to merge existing content into the appropriate Subspecies sections. Please bear with us while this update takes place.

Possibly forms a species pair with T. lucionensis. Nominate race exhibits much variation, some apparently clinal; now considered to include proposed races viridipennisdjampeaeflorisobiensisbatchianensisfuliginosus and insularum. Five subspecies are currently recognized.



Tanygnathus megalorynchos megalorynchos Scientific name definitions

Tanygnathus megalorynchos megalorynchos

T. m. megalorynchos

Talaud, Sangihe, Siau, islands off NE Sulawesi, Togian Is, and Tukangbesi Is S to Tanahjampea, Kalao, Kalaotoa, Madu and Flores (Lesser Sundas), and E through N and C Moluccas (Morotai, Halmahera and most of the satellites, Bacan, Bisa, Obi) to W Papuan Is (Waigeo, Batanta, Misool) and other islands off W New Guinea; present also on Balut and Sarangani, off S Mindanao (SE Philippines), where possibly introduced; specimens from N Sulawesi may have been wanderers or introductions, while sight records open to question.


Tanygnathus megalorynchos affinis Scientific name definitions

S Moluccas (Buru, Seram, Ambon, Haruku, Seram Laut).


Tanygnathus megalorynchos sumbensis Scientific name definitions

Sumba, in W Lesser Sundas.


Tanygnathus megalorynchos hellmayri Scientific name definitions

Roti, Semao and SW Timor, in WC Lesser Sundas.


Tanygnathus megalorynchos subaffinis Scientific name definitions

Tanygnathus megalorynchos subaffinis

T. m. subaffinis

Babar and Tanimbar Is, in E Lesser Sundas.


Editor’s Note: Additional distribution information for this taxon can be found in the ‘Subspecies’ article above. In the future, we will develop a range-wide distribution article.


Primary and secondary lowland evergreen forest, preferably with a rather open structure and with a scattering of large deciduous trees, but also Casuarina forest, mangroves, plantation edge, and garden areas in lowlands. A small-island specialist, being confined on larger islands to coastal areas and adjacent foothills. Birds may go to roost in higher parts of islands, returning early each morning to lowlands.


Apparently often travels between adjacent small islands, but this is presumably generally only a very local phenomenon.

Diet and Foraging

The fruit of Sonneratia alba is reportedly much favoured, also Canarium Vulgare and casuarinas; a green lemon-sized fruit reportedly important, the birds travelling from island to island in search of it. Apparently visits corn crops.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Quite vocal. Most calls involve repeated loud nasal squawks or screeches, e.g. “kee-aw…kee-aw..” or “krah…krah..”, but also gives complex modulated notes such as piercing whistles with a grating end.


Nest-sites apparently occupied, Aug–Sept; Aug–Sept on Sumba. Nest in a hole in a very tall deciduous tree. No information on clutch size, but one egg laid in captivity measured 38·8 mm × 28·4 mm.

Conservation Status

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