Archived 2014 discussion: Blue-rumped Parrot (Psittinus cyanurus) is being split: list P. abbotti as Vulnerable and P. cyanurus as Near Threatened?

This is part of a consultation on the Red List implications of extensive changes to BirdLife’s taxonomy for non-passerines

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish the HBW-BirdLife Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, building off the Handbook of the Birds of the World series, and BirdLife’s annually updated taxonomic checklist.

The new Checklist will be based on the application of criteria for recognising species limits described by Tobias et al. (2010). Full details of the specific scores and the basis of these for each new taxonomic revision will be provided in the Checklist.

Following publication, an open and transparent mechanism will be established to allow people to comment on the taxonomic revisions or suggest new ones, and provide new information of relevance in order to inform regular updates. We are also actively seeking input via a discussion topic here regarding some potential taxonomic revisions that currently lack sufficient information.

The new Checklist will form the taxonomic basis of BirdLife’s assessments of the status of the world’s birds for the IUCN Red List. The taxonomic changes that will appear in volume 1 of the checklist (for non-passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2014 Red List update, with the remainder, and those for passerines (which will appear in volume 2 of the checklist), to be incorporated into subsequent Red List updates.

Preliminary Red List assessments have been carried out for the newly split or lumped taxa. We are now requesting comments and feedback on these preliminary assessments.

Blue-rumped Parrot Psittinus cyanurus is being split into P. cyanurus and P. abbotti, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, P. cyanurus (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd, on the basis that it was suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline (approaching 30% over three generations [c.11 years]) owing to the extensive clearance of lowland forest throughout much of its range and the potential impacts of exploitation for the cagebird trade. It was not considered more threatened because of its ability to use secondary forest and less-threatened lower montane forest.

P. abbotti is found on the islands of Simeulu and Simuat (del Hoyo et al. 1997). It may qualify as Vulnerable under criterion C2a(ii), on the basis that there are estimated to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, assumed to form a single subpopulation, which is inferred to be in decline owing to on-going habitat loss and degradation.

P. cyanurus (as defined following the taxonomic change, and incorporating pontius) is widely distributed in the Sundaic region, being found in the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo, as well as several other islands, where it inhabits primary forest and some degraded and modified  habitats (del Hoyo et al. 1997). It may warrant listing as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd, on the basis that it could be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline (approaching 30% over three generations [c.11 years]), owing to on-going habitat loss and potential levels of exploitation.

Comments on these suggested categories are invited and further information would be welcomed.


del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Tobias, J. A., Seddon, N., Spottiswoode, C. N., Pilgrim, J. D., Fishpool, L. D. C. and Collar, N. J. (2010) Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis 152: 724–746.

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4 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Blue-rumped Parrot (Psittinus cyanurus) is being split: list P. abbotti as Vulnerable and P. cyanurus as Near Threatened?

  1. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were received from David Bishop on 11 July 2013:

    Blue-rumped Parrot P. cyanurus

    K. David Bishop’ notes:

    P. cyanurus is one of those enigmatic Sundaic species whose status is quite difficult to get a really solid handle on. In part because P. cyanurus is not especially demonstrative, usually occurring in 1s and 2s and occasionally small groups and is not very vocal. The call is easily overlooked especially as it appears to be most frequently given in flight when birds fly high over the forest. Despite hundreds of hours of fieldwork within its habitat of lowland and foothill forest I rarely encounter it other than in flight. Typically, if one does encounter P. cyanurus within the forest or at the forest edge such as along a road or track it is singly or in twos (pairs?) feeding very slowly and quietly. In Sumatra I have only ever recorded this species within Way Kambas NP where I typically hear and see it daily but mostly of birds in flight.

    In Borneo:

    During the course of 18 trips, averaging 6 days per trip (I have earlier records but do not have the time to dig them out) to Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley (1994 – 2013) I recorded small numbers (1-10) of this species on nine of the above trips. I also recorded this species once or twice at Sepilok Forest Reserve and along the Kinabatangan.

    During 27 April – 3 May 1996 in the area of Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley Jared Diamond and I groups of 2 and 3 calling in flight on just two days.

    During 24 – 28 February 2009 Jared and I failed to record this species in the Poring Hot Springs area. During 1 – 14 March 2009 Jared Diamond and I occasionally recorded 1-3 birds in flight over BRL, Danum Valley. No birds were ever seen perched. During 15 – 21 March 2009 Jared and I failed to record this species along the Kinabatangan River between the Meningua tributary, Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Abai Lodge and the Kinabatangan estuary.

    During 27 January – 4 March 2011 Jared Diamond and I failed to obtain any records of this species anywhere in Sarawak. Our trip included extended periods of time in Mulu National Park, the Bakalalan area; Borneo Highland Resort area; Similajau National Park and the Santubong area.

    Peninsula Malaysia:
    During the 1980s and 1990s I regularly recorded small numbers of this species within Taman Negara and occasionally at lower elevations in the Ulu Gombak.

    My sense is that this is an easily overlooked species especially when it is perched, feeding, within the forest. I suspect that it is nomadic, typically moving between food sources but I do not know what those food sources are or anything about such movements. Does anyone? I have observed this species deep within the interior of primary lowland forest in Taman Negara and the Danum Valley. In addition I have observed this species feeding within mature secondary forest but usually in association with nearby primary forest such as along the 17 km forest lined entrance road within Way Kambas National park.

    The massive and horrendous and absolute loss of pene-plain forest (primary tall Dipterocarp forest on level terrain) throughout the Sundaic Region has certainly had a huge impact on this and many other lowland forest inhabitants of this region. However, in the case of Blue-rumped Parrot P. cyanurus the impact is unclear. Obviously huge numbers of this species must have been displaced and wiped out by this loss of habitat but whether the little remaining habitat is sufficient to support the continued existence of this species in Borneo, Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula remains unresolved.

  2. Ding Li Yong says:

    One reason why the species is perceived to be ‘rare’ may be because it is difficult to detect in old growth dipterocarp forest, or that the species actually prefer secondary or logged forests. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in pristine (hilly) forest in the Taman Negara and the Tasik Kenyir area (averaging 150 – 200 m asl) but recorded it less than 5 times, almost always in areas that have been lightly to moderately logged. In the logged parts of the Panti forest reserve (10 – 50 m asl) which is often visited by birdwatchers, it is very regular and I have recorded in more than half of two hundred visits to the reserve between 1998-2013. In Singapore’s remnant forests where the species was once thought to be very rare, it is now regularly recorded as more surveyors are now able to access the canopy. In 2013, I’ve recorded it on every trip to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (about 1600 ha of forest of varying quality), and the species has been regularly documented to feed on fruits of ornamental plants. I wouldn’t say it is a rare species, but i do agree that it is easily missed if one works in very good quality forest. Given its dependence on lowland forests which is now often clear-cut across the Sundaic region, retaining the species as near-threatened seems appropriate.

  3. Joe Taylor says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information and comments posted above, our preliminary proposals for the 2014 Red List would be to treat:

    P. cyanurus as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd

    P. abbotti as Near Threatened under criterion C2a(ii)

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 March, after which recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in mid-2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  4. Andy Symes says:

    Recommended categorisations to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there have been no changes to our preliminary proposals for the 2014 Red List status of these species.

    The final categorisations will be published later in 2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by BirdLife and IUCN.

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