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Pesquet’s Parrot


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Pesquets Parrot

Psittrichas fulgidus Scientific name definitions

  • VU Vulnerable
  • Names (16)
  • Monotypic

Identification

46 cm; 690–800 g. Bill , bare face to behind eye and head and upperparts black, with vague red patch behind eye, dull red uppertail-coverts , and red median and greater wing-coverts and outer secondaries; throat to upper belly black with greyish edging, making scaled effect ; belly to undertail-coverts red ; tail black . Female lacks red patch behind eye and is slightly smaller on average (1). Immature is duller red. Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) is uniformly blackish grey with small pink face patch and very heavy bill. Female Eclectus roratus has bright red head and blue body. Crows (Corvus) spp. are all black with straighter bills.

Systematics History

Monotypic.

Subspecies

Monotypic.

Distribution

Mountains of New Guinea.

Habitat

Primary and tall secondary forest in foothills and lower mountains from 500 to 1800 m (2), occasionally ranging into lowlands (down to 30 m) (2) and almost to 2000 m.

Movement

No information.

Diet and Foraging

Appears to be a specialist on fruits of certain figs (Ficus), in particular F. sterrocarpaF. hesperidiformis and possibly F. baeuerlenii (2), but other soft fruit also taken, including mangoes (Mangifera indica) and climbing pandans. Blossoms and nectar, and flowers of Freycinetia mangospandans, also reported. Dietary studies in captivity indicate that species has low protein requirements, although it perhaps ingests fig wasps incidentally (3). It is possible that Psittrichas plays a complicated role as a keystone mutualist, opening hard-walled figs to smaller birds that disperse more seeds than Psittrichas (2), although seeds appear to pass through this species’ gizzard intact (3).

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Gives harsh, rasping or growling screams , audible at some distance, especially in flight and likened to heavy cloth being torn, “aaar” or “caar”, similar to those of Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) but higher-pitched, less rasping and weaker; also gives a double-call, with the first note on constant pitch and hoarse, the second upslurred, nasal and squeaky (1). Pairs may keep in vocal contact over long distances and use hard grating calls to defend fruiting trees (2).

Breeding

Breeding condition birds in Feb, Apr, May; fledged juveniles in Dec. Requires large hollow trees for nesting (2); the only nest described in literature was in a cavity 12 m above ground and 1·2 long, lined with bits of wood, and partially concealed by a climbing aroid (Araceae) and a Freycinetia sp. (Pandanaceae) climber (4). Usual brood size appears to be two. In captivity: two eggs; incubation lasting 27 or 31 days, with male provisioning female (4); chick has yellow-white down (1), and total time from egg-laying to fledging is at least 76 days (4). Young in captivity thrive on low-protein diet, but die if fed foods given to most parrots (2).

Conservation Status

Conservation status on BirdlifeVU Vulnerable

VULNERABLE. CITES II. Population perhaps just fewer than 21,000 pairs (2). Marked variations in local abundance, with flocks of up to 20 recorded, although mean group size is just 2·6 birds (5). Although still not uncommon in remote areas, numbers have declined drastically on account of hunting pressure, and the species has disappeared from forest near human habitation. Skins are used as “bride” price in the highlands, costing around K50 (c. $40) (2) in markets, and are even more valuable than bird-of-paradise plumes; however, birds are also used for food. Deforestation is also afflicting the species and to some extent trapping for the bird trade. Four possible conservation measures have been suggested: (1) increase field studies; (2) restrict transport of live birds on domestic flights; (3) replace use of Psittrichas feathers with dyed chicken feathers; (4) instruct tourists not to purchase handicrafts containing Psittrichas or other animal parts (2).


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