The Coxen’s Fig Parrot or Coxen’s Double-eyed Fig-parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeniis) is a sub-species of the Double-eyed Fig Parrot. Its natural range is limited – from the Mary River (Gympie) in Queensland south to the Richmond River in New South Wales and west to the Bunya Mountains in Australia. Others state that the distribution reaches Maryborough in the north and the Macleay River in the south.
Its preferred habitat includes the lowland dry and subtropical rainforest, especially in alluvial areas in which fruiting fig trees can be found. Some populations have been reported visiting isolated fruiting trees in gardens and cultivated farmlands.
Many experts agree that the Coxen’s Fig Parrot may in fact be extinct in its natural habitat – although unconfirmed sightings have been reported. As proof of its actual extinction in its native environment is not available yet, this fig parrot is officially reported to be one of the most critically endangered birds in Australia. Some speculate that fewer than 100 of them are remaining in the wild; others state that up to 200 may still be found in their range.
Recovery efforts to save the Coxen’s Fig-Parrot from certain extinction are underway, one of which is lead by Ian Günter, Senior Conservation Officer with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Co-ordinator of the Coxen’s Fig Parrot Recovery Program (please refer to the photo to the right). The conservation of the Coxen’s Fig Parrot is directed towards preserving potential habitat and determining the extent and distribution of the remaining populations.
Details pertaining captive populations are not available. The importance of integrating any captive specimen into a well-managed breeding program is well understood.
Coxen’s Fig Parrots are small parrots with a stout build – averaging 15cm in length, including their short tails. The head has distinctive red and blue markings with a prominent blue forehead in adults.
These predominantly green parrots have disproportionately large heads and bills. The plumage is a rich green above and a yellowish green below. The sides of its breast are yellow. The flight feathers are a deep blue and dark grey. When perching, two obvious red spots on the back can be seen, representing the inner edges of the flight feathers. (Refer to the photo to the right). The bill is pale grey at the base and blackish towards the tip.
The male has a blue forehead with scattered red feathers surrounding this and on the lores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird’s head). His cheeks are orange-red, bordered below by a band of mauve-blue. The female is similar, except she has a smaller blue patch on the forehead, and fewer or no red on the forehead and lores. Her orange-red cheek patch is duller and less extensive than that of the male.
They can be distinguished from small lorikeets by their short tail and lack of underwing color.
Little is known about the reproductive habits of this species. It is believed that they excavate nest chambers in dead or decaying tree limbs or trunks in, or close to, the rainforest. Each clutch usually consists of two eggs. Breeding season in their natural habitat is thought to commence in August and may go on until December or January.
The bird prefers feeding on the fruits of fig trees, but also feeds on other fruiting rainforest species. It can be detected by discarded pieces of fig flesh falling from its feeding tree onto the ground.
Its flight call is a short, clipped two note call described as a high-pitched, conspicuous ‘zeet-zeet’ that is readily detectable. When foraging, it may utter soft chattering calls – otherwise it is silent.
Genus: Scientific: Cyclopsitta … English: Fig-Parrot … Dutch: Bontkopdwergpapegaaien … German: Buntkopfzwergpapageien … French: Lorillet
Species: Scientific: Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeni aka Opopsitta diophthalma coxeni … English: Coxen’s Double-eyed Fig-Parrot … Dutch: Coxens Dubbeloogvijgpapegaai, Roodwangdwergpapegaai … German: Blauwangen Maskenzwergpapagei … French: Lorillet à double oeil de Coxen … CITES I – Protected Species
Distribution: Coastal Regions Southern Queensland, Northern New South Wales in Australia / Extinct?
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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