The Chatham Parakeet (Cyanoramphus forbesi) – also known as the Forbes’ Parakeet or the Yellow-fronted Parakeet – is a rare and endangered parrot endemic to the Chatham Islands and Pitt Islands.
Distribution and habitat
The Chatham Parakeets are restricted to Little Mangere and Mangere Islands in the Chatham Island group, New Zealand. By 1930, it was extinct on Mangere Island but, by 1973, it had recolonized and numbered 40 birds and a small number of hybrids with C. n. chathamensis (of which there were 12 on the island).
In 1996, two estimates indicated the population on Mangere Island was 50-120 pure-bred birds. In 1999 the total population was estimated to be about 120 birds and surveys in 2003 estimated 900 individuals on Mangere Island. However, a recent study estimated that over 50% of the parakeet population on Mangere Island consisted of hybrids.
Although these parakeets appear to be still confined to the two Mangere Islands, some have recently been recorded visiting the south of Chatham Island, Pitt Island and Rangatira Island.
This species prefer dense, unbroken forest and scrub.
These parakeets are 23 cm or 11 inches long, including the tail. The wing length is 125-140 mm (5 – 5.5 ins).
The plumage is mostly bright green with a crimson frontal band not reaching the eyes; and a bright, golden-yellow forecrown. They have red patches on the sides of the rump and green / blue outer webs of flight feathers.
Both sexes look alike, except the female is slightly smaller, with a proportionally smaller bill.
Juveniles look like adults, but have a shorter tail and pale brown eyes.
Similar Species: They look like the Chatham Island Red-crowned Parakeet (C. novaezelandiae chathamensis), but that species can be distinguished by its crimson forecrown.
They are usually observed in pairs or small groups in treetops or on outer branches of bushes outside the breeding season. Pairs may remain alone throughout year, but these parakeets usually form small flocks.
They often forage on or near the ground. They gather at springs and water holes on islands with limited water supply to drink and bathe. Occasionally flocks fly to neighboring islands to forage.
They are fairly approachable.
Diet / Feeding
They feed on leaves, buds, flowers, shoots, seeds, fruit, berries, nuts and other parts of plants.
They also eat insects and animal remains. On islands and In coastal areas, they forage on seaweed and mussels.
They also take up tiny stones, most likely to help with digestion.
Calls / Vocalizations
Calls made in flight are repetitive, quieter and more high-pitched than the calls of the Red-fronted Parakeet (C. novaezelandiae).
Status and Threats
The introduction of domestic cats, deforestation and hunting have reduced the numbers of these parakeets to 100 individuals on the lesser of the Mangere islands in 1938, but because of reforestation on Mangere Island Numbers have grown to hundreds. The parakeets are still confined to the two Mangere Islands.
The greatest current threat is hybridization with the Chatham Island Red-crowned Parakeet (C. n. chathamensis) which continues to establish itself on Mangere Island.