Tag Archives: Cyanoramphus

Cyanoramphus sp. ‚Rapa‘

Rapa Parakeet (Cyanoramphus sp.)

This species is known from subfossil remains that were found during excavations on the island of Rapa, Austral Islands.

These remains somewhat fill the giant gap in the distribution area of the genus, which is found on the one hand with many species in the western Pacific region (New Caledonia and New Zealand faunal regions) and on the other hand with two species on the Society Islands in central Polynesia.

There are hundreds of suitable island groups and islands between these two areas where not a single member of the genus was ever found. [1]


The Rapa Parakeet very likely was a ground-dwelling species, like most members of its genus, and was also very likely very tame and thus was probably among the first birds to be eradicated by the first human occupants of the island. [1]



[1] J. D. Tennyson; Atholl Anderson: Bird, reptile and mammal remains from archaeological sites on Rapa Island. In: Atholl Anderson; Douglas J. Kennett: Taking the High Ground; The archaeology of Rapa, a fortified island in remote East Polynesia. In: Terra Australis 37. 105-114. Canberra, ANU E Press 2012


edited: 08.02.2020

Cyanoramphus erythrotis (Wagler)

Macquarie Island Parakeet (Cyanoramphus erythrotis)  

The Macquarie Island Parakeet once was the southernmost living parrot species in the world, it was endemic to the subantarctic Maquarie Island, a cold, harsh, and rainy island, that today is known especially for its very large penguin colonies.  

The Macquarie Island Parakeet had a similar lifestyle as the Antipodes Parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor (Lear)) and Reischek’s Parakeet (Cyanoramphus hochstetteri (Reischek)), which both inhabit the subantarctic Antipodes Islands.  

The Antipodes Islands do not harbor trees, thus the parakeets there life exclusively on the ground, the eggs are laid in abandoned burrows made by seabirds or ‘under the open air’ sheltered by overhanging tussock grass.  

The Macquarie Island Parakeet lived in a similar way, and probably also occasionally killed and fed upon seabird chicks, as does the Antipodes Parakeet (very much like the Kea (Nestor notabilis Gould) in New Zealand’s Southern Alps).  


The Macquarie Island Parakeet was long treated as a subspecies of the New Zealand Red-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae (Sparrman)), but is now known to have been a distinct species. [3]  


Within the 19th century many animals were introduced the Macquarie Island, including cats, mice, rabbits, rats and weka rails, the last-mentioned brought from New Zealand. (As far as I know, all of these introduced species have been eradicated in the meantime!) The mice and especially the rabbits destroyed much of the vegetation, the cats killed the adult parakeets, the rats and the weka rails destroyed the birds’ clutches.  

The last Macquarie Island Parakeets died in the year 1913.  



[1] Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986 
[2] Errol Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987 [3] Wee Ming Boon; Jonathan C. Kearvell, Charles H. Daugherty; Geoffrey K. Chambers: ‘Molecular systematics and conservation of kakariki (Cyanoramphus spp.). Science for Conservation 176: 1-46. 2001


edited: 11.02.2020

Cyanoramphus subflavescens Salvadori

Lord Howe Island Parakeet (Cyanoramphus subflavescens)

This species was once endemic to the island of Lord Howe in the Tasman Sea off southeastern Australia, the species was repeatedly classified as a subspecies of either the Norfolk Island – (Cyanoramphus cookii (Gray)) or the New Zealand Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae (Sparrman)) but is now finally considered a distinct species.

The bird reached a length of about 27 cm and was otherwise quite similar to the two abovementioned, closely related species.

The human settlers on the island didn’t like the parakeet, they considered them to be a pest to their crops and gardens and thus heavily hunted the parakeets … until the species went finally extinct.

The last two birds, apparently a breeding pair, were seen in 1869.


The depiction below shows a pair of this species with the male bird in front – these are the only two specimens of the species known to exist at all!


Depiction from: Catalogue of the birds in the British Museum. London 20. 1891

(public domain)


edited: 27.11.2018