Kadavu (Crimson) Shining Parrot

Prosopeia splendens

The Kadavu parrot is the most distinctive of Fiji’s colourful Shining Parrots. It is a large parrot, similar in size to Fiji’s other two endemic Shining Parrots, measuring up to 45 cm from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail.

The colouration of the Kadavu parrot distinguishes it from the other two species. Its head, neck and underparts are a bright scarlet with a blue collar that extends across back of the neck; the back and the rump are a bright shining green. The flight feathers and tail are green, strongly suffused with blue. The bill and feet are black, and the irises are orange in colour.

Males and females are similar, however, the bill of males is larger and the head is more square-shaped than females.

This colourful bird is endemic to the island of Kadavu and nearby Ono. The Kadavu parrot is occasionally seen on Viti Levu as escaped pet birds, but there are no known records of them successfully breeding outside of Kadavu and Ono.

Habitat, Ecology and Behaviour

The parrots range widely, in small flocks of up to a dozen birds, over the whole of Kadavu and Ono. While most of their food is located in forest areas, they may also visit farms and gardens, mangroves and secondary forest areas.

Parrots are specialist seed eaters but they also feed on,fruits, buds and young leaves.

While there is some information available on the breeding habits and nesting of the other two endemic parrots: Proposopeia tabuensis and P. personata, there has been no detailed study of the ecology and reproductive behaviour of the Kadavu Shining parrot.

It is found in forest, agricultural lands and around human habitation both in the lowlands and hills (Juniper and Parr 1998). It is assumed to be a hole-nester like P. tabuensis (Juniper and Parr 1998).

The species is not restricted to the forest during breeding (D. Watling verbally 2000), as nests have been found in trees in the centre of the villages (M. Tabudravu in litt. 2012).

Pairs and small flocks forage widely for fruit and seeds, both in the forest canopy and in agricultural gardens (G. Dutson pers. obs. 2000).

Threats

The destruction of the Kadavu Parrot’s habitat and its illegal trade as a cage bird are the most serious current threats to the survival of this noisy forest bird. Predation by introduced mammals such as feral cats and rats are also a possible threat, though this has yet to be determined.

Conservation Status

The Kadavu Parrot is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Redlist of Threatened species and is protected by law against trading and transfers out of Kadavu and Ono.

Remarks and Cultural Significance

The presence of the Kadavu Parrot in Ono today is in defiance of a popular Fijian legend which saw them banished from the island of Ono – though intriguingly when Theodore Kleinschmidt visited Ono in 1876, our first observations on the island, he noted the absence of parrots there! The main features that distinguish the Kadavu parrot from Fiji’s other two parrots are the scarlet as opposed to maroon underparts and the striking blue collar at the back of the neck.

Distribution

Prosopeia splendens is endemic to Fiji where it occurs naturally on the islands of Kadavu and Ono, and is recently reported to be widespread and common on the former (G. Dutson pers. obs. 2000, J. S. Kretzschmar in litt. 2000).

The birds on Ono island are believed to be the same sub-population as on the nearby main island of Kadavu. Reports of breeding on other islands need to be confirmed and are likely to originate from long-lived escaped cage-birds (D. Watling verbally 2000).

Although recent fieldwork on Kadavu has not specifically targeted this species, it appears to occur at similar population densities to Masked Shining-Parrot (86 Kadavu Shining-Parrots were recorded in 38 standardised observer-hours on the two BirdLife surveys, similar to the mean of 1.9 Masked Shining-Parrots /hour recorded at 18 sites across Viti Levu). Masked Shining-Parrot was estimated to occur at around 29 birds / km2 in lowland native forest (Jackson and Jit 2004).

The area of dense and medium-dense forest on Kadavu is around 225 km2(National Forest Inventory 1991-1993), so a reasonable population estimate for Crimson Shining-Parrot would be 6,000 birds. Conservation projects have reduced the numbers trapped for trading off Kadavu, and this species is probably declining at the rate of loss of forest on Kadavu, which is estimated to be 0.5-0.8 % per year across Fiji (Claasen 1991), but probably higher on Kadavu which has suffered extensive fires in recent years (G. Dutson in litt.2005).

References

Watling (2004) Information from NatureFiji

 BirdLife International (2012) Species factsheet: Prosopeia splendens.

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