Greater Vasa Parrot

Greater Vasa Parrot

Coracopsis vasa

  • LC Least Concern
  • Names (14)
  • Subspecies (3)


50 cm. Dark brown, slightly lighter on underparts  with pale grey undertail-coverts, greyish wing-coverts and edges to primaries; rosy grey bare area on face  Bill 

© Dubi ShapiroToamasina, Madagascar 27 Nov 2010Macaulay Library ML 205158521eBird S65094287

light brown when breeding, dark grey otherwise. Some breeding birds lose most head feathers to reveal yellow or orange skin. Immature generally more brownish, bare area on face smaller. Race drouhardi 

© Theresa BucherMahajanga, Madagascar 21 Jul 2010Macaulay Library ML 205398821eBird S65119414

slightly paler and smaller; comorensis 

© Pete MorrisGrande Comore, Comoros 06 Oct 2012Macaulay Library ML 205896261eBird S65144703

paler, with brown undertail-coverts.

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.Sometimes placed in genus Mascarinus. Three subspecies recognized.


Introduced (presumably nominate race) to Reunion I, but apparently died out.


Coracopsis vasa comorensis Scientific name definitions


Ngazidja (Grand Comoro), Mwali (Mohéli) and Ndzuani (Anjouan), in Comoro Is.


Coracopsis vasa drouhardi Scientific name definitions


N, W and S Madagascar.


Coracopsis vasa vasa Scientific name definitions


E Madagascar


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.


Less tied to forest than C. nigra, present in humid and deciduous forests, coastal plains with coconut plantations, savannas including Medemia palm savanna with scrub and relict forest, ricefields and other cultivations adjacent to woodland, and subdesert areas, noted alighting on ground on sandbanks. Generally only to 1000 m.


Probably sedentary, but moving locally in search of food. Birds often fly very high over forest, sometimes by moonlight.

Diet and Foraging

Fruits  (in one case Cussonia), berries, seeds. More granivorous than C. nigra, capable of eating maize on the stalk.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Quite vocal, with an extensive repertoire of screeches, nasal grating calls and pure whistles. Often utters phrases comprising very varied short whistles given at a constant pace, sounding quite melodious.


Oct–Jan. In W Madagascar uses baobabs and several nests can be simultaneously active in same tree. Eggs three; in captivity, incubation 17 days, nestling period 45–49 days.

Conservation Status

Conservation status on BirdlifeLC Least Concern

Not globally threatened. CITES II. Commoner than C. nigra in W Madagascar. Listed for 28 protected areas 

© Frédéric PELSYToliara, Madagascar 29 Sep 2012Macaulay Library ML 206204311eBird S65199342

in Madagascar, and still fairly common in many areas. Causes some crop damage, and often persecuted in S. Hunted for food, taken for trade, and officially listed in 1970s as a pest species; there is now concern that levels of exploitation are excessive, owing to the zeal with which the birds are trapped by the Betsimisaraka people, who resent their raids on ricefields. Relatively common on Comoros.

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