Archived 2017 topics: Pesquet’s Parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus): downlist to Near Threatened or Least Concern?

BirdLife Species factsheet for Pesquet’s Parrot:


Pesquet’s Parrot, Psittrichas fulgidus, is an apparently rare and declining species found patchily across New Guinea. It is restricted to lower montane and hill forest (Mack and Wright 1998, B. Beehler in litt. 1999) and so may have been influenced by habitat destruction. A more severe threat to this species was believed to be hunting, particularly for feathers for their use in traditional ceremonies, as well as for food and the cage-bird trade (Coates 1985, Beehler et al. 1986, Nash 1992, Mack and Wright 1998, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994). This information led to this species being listed as Vulnerable under criteria A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd (see BirdLife International 2017).

There is, however, a suggestion that the species may now warrant downlisting. First of all, in the justification for the species’s listing as Vulnerable the 3 generation period is stated as 60 years, when in fact it now may be considered as 27 years (see BirdLife International 2017). Therefore, the time period over which declines are assessed is now much shorter. The threat of deforestation is also unlikely to be causing rapid declines. It had already been noted that loggers will leave fig trees (the species’s preferred food [see Mack and Wright 1998]) (B. Beehler in litt. 2007), but also the rate of habitat loss and degradation have been relatively low (1.2% and 2.4% respectively, between 2002 and 2014 [Bryan and Shearman 2015]) and the species is encountered at a similar rate in logged forest as un-logged (I. Woxwold pers. comm. per G. Dutson in litt. 2016).

Hunting may also be having less of an impact on this species. The levels of hunting in Papua New Guinea have decreased recently since the introduction of a law to prevent the killing of birds with non-traditional means (i.e. shotguns) (B. Beehler in litt. 2012) and as such that the current rates of decline due to hunting are thought to be relatively minor (G. Dutson in litt. 2016). In fact the declines as a result of hunting appear to have been mostly historical and only based around population centres, such as Tabubil, where the species declined rapidly after the development of a large mine and town (Greggory 1995, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994).

Overall, based on the likely impact of hunting and forest loss it has been suggested that the species’s rate of decline is now likely to be far lower than the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A, and has been estimated at 10-20% over 3 generations (G. Dutson in litt. 2016). Such a rate of decline would not be sufficient for listing as even Near Threatened under criterion A, and given this potential rate of decline the species would warrant listing as Least Concern. However, it should be noted that Beehler and Pratt (2016) state that this species is one of the most vulnerable species in New Guinea, and so there may be missing information to suggest that this species may be in a worse state than we have inferred. Therefore, we request any further information regarding the potential rate of decline, and any information about the potential population size of this species to ascertain whether it would be appropriate to proceed with any potential downlisting, especially given the concerns of Beehler and Pratt (2016).



Beehler, B. M.; Pratt, T. K. 2016. Birds of New Guinea. Distribution, Taxonomy, and Systematics. Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford.

Beehler, B. M.; Pratt, T. K.; Zimmerman, D. A. 1986. Birds of New Guinea. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

BirdLife International. 2017. Species factsheet: Psittrichas fulgidus. Downloaded from on 21/04/2017.

Coates, B. J. 1985. The birds of Papua New Guinea, 1: non-passerines. Dove, Alderley, Australia.

Gregory, P. 1995. Further studies of the birds of the Ok Tedi area, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. Muruk 7(1): 1-38.

Mack, A. L.; Wright, D. D. 1998. The Vulturine Parrot, Psittrichus fulgidas, a threatened New Guinea endemic: notes on its biology and conservation. Bird Conservation International 8: 185-194.

Nash, S. V. 1992. Parrot trade records for Irian Jaya, Indonesia, 1985-1990. TRAFFIC Bulletin 13: 42-45.

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3 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: Pesquet’s Parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus): downlist to Near Threatened or Least Concern?

  1. Todd Mark says:

    Seen frequently in ag forest near villages 750-1300 m in Finisterre Mountains of Huon Peninsula in May, 2017. Also at 2100 m below Teptep in May 2016. It is a loud vocal species, so unlikely to not be noticed.

  2. Phil Gregory says:

    I would listen to Pratt and Beehler, this species has a wide range but the demand for plumes still exists and it is traded still, It remains low density and hard to find in the Kiunga and Tabubil areas, but is likely to be better off away from population centres. Given the alarming rate of population increase and the spread of shotguns, there is cause for concern

  3. Hannah Wheatley (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to list Psittrichas fulgidus as VU under criterion A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd.

    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 the initial proposal.

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