orange fronted parakeets or Malherbe’s Parakeet 20 cm. Very similar to C. auriceps
but the frontal band
orange fronted parakeets
orange, crown pale yellow, patches either side of rump orange. Immature almost lacks a frontal band.
orange fronted parakeets
Long treated as a color morph of C. auriceps but now generally recognized as a separate species on the basis mainly of assortative mating and bill morphology, backed up by molecular data. Form hochstetteri of C. novaezelandiae has been treated as a race of present species, apparently in error. Monotypic.
Formerly scattered through most of New Zealand; now confined to N South I. Translocated to several islands off South I (Chalky, Maud, Blumine) and off North I (Tuhua) .
Fringes of Nothofagus forest, in one area being found breeding only at 600–900 m in the forest of N. fusca, but with a preference for areas bordering stands of N. solandri; in past reported from sea-level to subalpine scrublands. Translocated birds on Maud Island use ecotones of broadleaf coastal forest–manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) scrub, and pine plantations–manuka scrub for foraging.
Diet and Foraging
Scale insects, flower and leaf buds, flowers, young leaves, berries, and seeds.
Sounds and Vocal Behavior
Commonest call a quite nasal rattling chatter, “kehke…”, similar to both C. auriceps and C. forbesi. Also several soft short conversational squeaks and churrs.
Oct. Nest in a hole in a living or dead tree. Eggs 3.
CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. CITES II. In the 19th century, distributed widely throughout North I, most of South I, and Stewart Is of New Zealand, but range and population have contracted significantly since then. Remnant breeding populations persist in three valleys in South I: South Branch Hurunui R valley, Hawdon R valley, and Poulter valley. Birds have also been sighted sporadically in other valleys.
Introduced predators, such as Stoats (Mustela erminea) and rats (Rattus spp.) have been the main cause of the decline. In a more recent crash, due to rat Rattus irruptions in two successive summers, the population dropped from 500–700 birds before 2000 to 100–200 by 2004. Since 2005, populations have been translocated to four islands: Chalky, Maud, Tuhua, and Blumine.
In early 2013, the global population was estimated to number 290–690 individuals, with the remnant mainland populations comprising 130–270 individuals and the island populations accounting for a further 160–420 birds. Subpopulations estimated as follows: 70–200 individuals in Hawdon R valley (largest population), 40–80 in Poulter valley, and 20–40 in South Branch Hurunui R valley; the translocated island populations comprised 50–150 mature individuals on Chalky, 10–20 on Maud, possibly 50–150 on Tuhua and 50–100 on Blumine I.
However, counts should be treated with caution because of the difficulty in separating this species from sympatric C. triceps. Mainland populations are thought to be decreasing, while numbers are increasing on some of the islands. The South Branch Hurunui R valley is protected by Lake Sumner Conservation Park (IUCN Cat. V; 1050 km2), while the Hawdon and Poulter valleys are located within Arthur’s Pass National Park (IUCN Cat. II; 1185 km2). All nests found are protected from invasive predators, and since 2003 only one nest out of 153 has been lost in this way. Nest usurpation by Sturnus vulgaris has been reported.