Seychelles Parrot


Seychelles Parrot

Coracopsis barklyi Scientific name definitions

  • VU Vulnerable
  • Names (14)
  • Monotypic

Identification

35–40 cm; 132–153 g. Head  and upperparts  dark greyish brown, becoming slightly paler on uppertail-coverts and has faint pale shaft-streaks on crown; underparts  paler greyish brown, with short buff-coloured streaks on throat and faint pale barring on breast  and belly; uppertail greyish brown, undertail  pale grey. 

Bill  blackish grey, becoming paler when breeding, bare orbital skin (grey), eyes dark brown, cere yellowish, and legs and feet greyish black or bluish grey. Sexes alike. Immature is paler, with pale undertail-coverts, yellowish tinge around bill and mustard-coloured flush to face, throat and upper breast. The only grey or brown parrot in Seychelles.

Systematics History

Recent genetic study  suggested form barklyi basal to Coracopsis but also indicated genus Mascarinus interposed between races barklyi and sibilans, a counterintuitive finding that requires validation; nonetheless separation of sibilans from barklyi at species level accepted here on several grounds. Statement in HBW that race barklyi of Seychelles “apparently indistinguishable from sibilans” erroneous, but in morphology the two are extremely similar.

Increasingly frequent recent practice of treating barklyi as a full species supported by several molecular studies  and is provisionally accepted here: differences from C. nigra largely as those that distinguish C. sibilans (see below), while differences from C. sibilans include reportedly different voice ; bill slightly larger; seemingly (on limited specimen evidence) narrower, more pointed rectrices (requires verification; ns); very weak blue-grey or paler grey outer edges of primaries vs none ; paler lower belly and vent ; reportedly different habitat choice, with highly specific nesting requirements . Monotypic.

Subspecies

Monotypic.

Distribution

Praslin and Curieuse (no breeding recorded in latter , in the Seychelles.

Habitat

Native hill forests dominated by endemic palms 

such as Lodoicea maldivicaNephrosperma vanhoutteanaVerschaffeltia splendidaPhoenicophorium borsigianum and Deckenia nobilis, as well as in river valleys with tall trees and mixed forests comprising palms and introduced broadleaved tree species such as Paraserianthes falcatariusSwietenia macrophyllaTabebuia pallida and Sandoricum koetjape, or native trees like Mimusops seechellarum or Northea hornei; even inhabits coastal beach crests populated by Callophyllum inophyllumTerminalia catappa and Casuarina equisetifolia, and will visit agricultural land and other areas, such as hotel gardens, at lower elevations to feed.

Movement

Makes regular daily movements between roosting areas in highlands and lowland agricultural areas where the birds may feed; regular movements between Praslin and Curieuse (c. 1 km away) have also been reported (4).

Diet and Foraging

Diet principally seeds and fruits seekmute0

  • Seychelles, Seychelles

of endemic palms (except Lodoicea) and other native broadleaved trees like Dillena ferruginea and Craterispermum microdon, introduced trees such as Casuarina equisetifolia and Sandoricum keotjape, the introduced creeper Tylophora indica, and Pouteria obovata; seeds of the endemic Phyllanthus pervilleanus can be important, while very young coconut palms (Cocos nucifera) and new shoots and seed cones of Casuarina are also taken.

Wide variety of introduced fruit trees provide foraging resources: Averrhoa bilimbi, mango (Mangifera indica), Eugenia javanicaSyzygium malaccensisS. communisS. jambosS. wrightiiSpondium cytherea, guava (Psidium guajava), strawberry guava (P. cattleianum), star fruit 

(Averrhoa carambola) and possibly Ficus sp., with seeds apparently being particularly targeted, including those of the herbaceous Lophosonus sp. Takes flowers of Ceiba pentandra and Carica papaya .

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Can be extremely vocal, both perched and in flight, generally during day but also sometimes on moonlit nights, with vocalizations being more frequent at start of breeding season and when birds are in large groups. Varied high-pitched whistles, usually monosyllabic, occasionally trisyllabic and more melodious during breeding season; typically a medium to high-pitched, clear “kee-ker-kee-ker” or “keer-kerker” lasting 1–2 seconds, or an even higher “ki-kwishh”, “kwikshhh” or “kiiish”, a single mellow-sounding “tuweer” or keer” and a harsher, higher-pitched “kreeer kreer kreeer” in crescendo, uttered at rate of c. 1 note/second, as well as a low-pitched, sharp “kek … kek” .

Breeding

Season commences Sept–Oct, with eggs laid Oct–Jan (mainly Nov–Dec) and young cared for until at least Mar (post-fledging care can occupy several months). Monogamous and single-clutched (even in case of nest failure). Nests in tree-holes, e.g.

in palms (Deckenia nobilisLodoicea maldivica), also in AlbiziaPandanus hornei and Casuarina, typically 2·5–9 m above ground, with cavity depth of 1·2–3·6 m and diameter of 23–26 cm; will also use nestboxes. Clutch 1–3 white eggs, size 31–40 mm × 25–34 mm, mass 9·5–14 g; incubation, by female alone, 14–18 days, apparently from first egg; young have white down, fledging period very variable 36–61 days, reaching peak mass (c. 180 g) after 3–4 weeks, then decreasing to 135–153 g at fledging .

Breeding success: usually only two eggs, even in three-egg clutches, hatch, and even if three hatch, the third chick typically dies; just three of seven nests each produced 1–2 fledglings, with nest predation (apparently mainly by rats and usually at chick stage) being main cause of failure, but success is higher in rat-proof nestboxes .

In a study during 2009–2013, 27 of the 28 known breeding attempts were in hollows of Lodoicea maldivica trunks at c. 2 m above the ground, mean clutch was 2·2 eggs (n = 22) and 53% of breeding attempts produced at least one fledgling (37% fledglings per egg). No data on adult survival or longevity.

Conservation Status

VULNERABLE. Population placed at just 340–600 mature individuals. Point count surveys on Praslin in 2010–2011 found density of 0·14–0·24 individuals/ha, resulting in total population estimate of 520–900 individuals obtained using distance sampling methodology . No individuals detected on Curieuse during point counts over four days and during supplementary fieldwork, suggesting that there is no resident population there .

Prior to these surveys, the most recent population estimate on Praslin was of 645 individuals, using distance sampling at 39 random points; however, this study was deemed to have several methodological and analytical constraints, which meant that assumptions of the distance sampling method were not met and resulting in an estimate range too broad to serve as a basis for conservation planning .

After reviewing recent survey results, an estimate of a total breeding population of < 200 pairs was made, suggesting that there could be fewer than 400 mature individuals, while a review of previous surveys indicates that the species has recovered from a low point of c. 30–50 individuals in the late 1960s .

The decline prior to this was thought to have been driven mainly by predation by introduced rats and hunting by settlers and farmers, but the most serious current threats  include diseases such as Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, competition from introduced bird species for food and nest-sites, and habitat destruction caused by fires, with potential threats including persecution, pesticides, netting of bat species and inbreeding.

Forest fires may be the most serious of these, with records since the early 1980s showing that every c. 10 years a large fire occurs. The presence of Psittacula krameri on Mahé, one of which has been recorded on Praslin, increases the risk of disease. Persecution by farmers is regarded as a minor threat.

Other risk factors include its low genetic diversity and large, and so-far unexplained, fluctuations in breeding activity between seasons. Protected by law since 1966 and endemic palms have been protected since 1991, while the restoration of native palm forest on Praslin and Curieuse is ongoing. Occurs in Praslin National Park, established in 1979, and Vallée de Mai was designated a World Heritage Site in 1983; artificial nestboxes have been provided since 1983.


There is a firebreak around the core breeding area at inlinemedia, but it is not guaranteed to function in the event of a large fire. Measures are being undertaken to eradicate Psittacula krameri from Mahé and they are being screened for the Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease virus.

A national action plan for the species was produced in 2009 and includes plans to introduce the species to Silhouette, along with captive breeding on Frégate and Île du Nord if appropriate habitat management can be undertaken. Other conservation actions identified include the control of introduced species, renovation and improvement of nestboxes, population monitoring and public awareness campaigns.


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