Archived 2017 topics: Coxen’s Fig-parrot (Cyclopsitta coxeni): downlist to Endangered?

Coxen’s Fig-parrot, C. coxeni, was recently split from Double-eyed Fig-parrot, C. diophthalma and listed as Critically Endangered under criterion C2a(i) on the basis that it likely has a very small population, and there is a chance that it may be declining as a result of habitat degradation even though declines may have been largely historical (see BirdLife International 2017). It occurs in remnant small patches of rainforest in a small area of coastal eastern Australia in Queensland and New South Wales (Garnett et al. 2011). Much of its habitat was cleared at the turn of the 20th Century (Coxen’s Fig-Parrot Recovery Team 2001), and what remains could be impacted by the spread of invasive weeds (Garnett et al. 2011).

The species is rarely recorded, but it does continue to be reported (I. Gynther pers. comm. per G. Dutson in litt. 2016). Four subpopulations are thought to remain, provisionally estimated at no more than 50 individuals in each or potentially a total of 100 breeding individuals, but the exact subpopulation structure remains uncertain (Garnett and Crowley 2000, Coxen’s Fig-Parrot Recovery Team 2001, Garnett et al. 2011). This is in line with the data BirdLife already use for the assessment of Coxen’s Fig-parrot. However, Garnett et al. (2011) suggest that the species should not be considered as declining and instead could be considered stable, because given the similar rate of reported sightings of this species, if the species were declining it would have likely gone extinct. This is tentatively supported by the ongoing rate of reports (I. Gynther pers. comm. per G. Dutson in litt. 2016), although essentially the trend is uncertain (G. Dutson in litt. 2016). Therefore, we request any comments or information regarding the population trend for this species, but if it were to be accepted as stable the species would no longer warrant listing as Critically Endangered, and instead would meet the conditions for listing as Endangered under criterion D.



BirdLife International. 2017. Species factsheet: Cyclopsitta coxeni. Downloaded from on 30/03/2017.

Coxen’s Fig-Parrot Recovery Team. 2001. Coxen’s fig-parrot Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeni recovery plan 2001-2005. Report to Environment Australia, Canberra. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane.

Garnett, S. T.; Szabo, J. K.; Dutson, G. 2011. The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

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4 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: Coxen’s Fig-parrot (Cyclopsitta coxeni): downlist to Endangered?

  1. Phil Gregory says:

    I never get to hear about this taxon, and do not know anyone who has seen it, I don’t think there is enough information to change categories and would have thought a guesstimate of 200 birds is still CR

  2. Ian Gynther says:

    Sadly, there are no hard data to substantiate the population estimates or trends for Coxen’s Fig-Parrot. As it’s not a bird one can just go out and find, conducting a quantitative assessment of its abundance and change in population size over time is simply not possible. The current population estimate (50-249) is a very rubbery one based on a best guess about how many individuals might be required to yield the number of confirmed and credible incidental records that have been reported over the years from various parts of the bird’s range. Because of the existence of a number of reports over the past decade, and given that credible sightings continue to be made (including two in April 2017 from the Sunshine Coast hinterland and the Gold Coast hinterland, locations 215 km apart), I concur with the Garnett et al. (2011) conclusion that the population must be relatively stable otherwise a continuing decline from such a low base would have already seen the bird become extinct. Consequently, I am comfortable with criterion D being applied. The fact that this results in a downlisting to Endangered for a bird so seldom encountered and about which we lack so much basic knowledge is regrettable but it is, nevertheless, unavoidable based on the existing population thresholds.

  3. Stephen Garnett says:

    We had a long debate about this bird in the BirdLife Australia Threatened Species Committee, with input from Ian Gynther who is the key expert on the species, and retain our view that Endangered D is the most logical listing for all that the bird is so rarely seen.

  4. Hannah Wheatley (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 4 August, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2017 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.