Kakariki: Red-fronted Parakeets
The Lord Howe Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae subflavescens) – also known as the Lord Howe Red-fronted Parakeet – was a parrot endemic to Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, part of New South Wales, Australia. It is an extinct subspecies of the Red-crowned or Red-fronted Parakeet. It was last recorded in 1869 and is considered extinct since 1870.
The Lord Howe Island Red-crowned Parakeet inhabited forests, gardens and agricultural lands on Lord Howe Island. It was recorded as occasionally occurring in flocks (Forshaw and Cooper 2002). It was probably non-migratory (sedentary).
The Lord Howe Island Red-crowned Parakeet was a medium-sized green parrot, ~ 21–32 cm (12.5 inches) long from head to tip of its tail and had a wing length of 147 – 149 mm (5.75 – 6 ins). Males weighed around 80 grams and females around 70 g.
The Lord Howe Red-crowned Parakeet was a green parrot with a crimson cap and eye-stripe. The upperparts were bright green with a dark red patch on either side of the rump (usually concealed by the wings when perching) and a blue leading edge to the wings. The underparts were bright yellowish-green. The eyes were red and the bill was grey. (Forshaw and Cooper 1981, 2002; Higgins 1999; Hutton 1991)
Males and females looked alike, except the female was slightly smaller (Higgins 1999).
Similar Species: It looked like the nominate Red-crowned Parakeet, but had a more yellowish plumage and less extensive red markings on its head. Measurements also indicate that it was slightly larger than the nominate species.
Diet / Feeding
Their main diet probably consisted of plant material, such as seeds, fruits, buds and leaves form native trees and shrubs (Hutton 1991). They were considered a pest by the early settlers as they fed on cultivated fruits and vegetables. They may also have eaten invertebrates.
The main threat to the Lord Howe Island Red-crowned Parakeet was hunting and trapping by settlers. Previously quite common, it was considered a pest and hunted as they foraged on cultivated crops and gardens. Its populations had declined to extinction by the mid to late 19th century, and it was last recorded in 1869 (Hindwood 1940).
There are only two specimens of the Lord Howe Red-crowned Parakeet in existence. They come from the John Gould collection, taken by John MacGillivray in September 1853 on the voyage of HMS Herald, and are held in the British Museum.
The Lord Howe Island Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae subflavescens) is considered a valid subspecies of the Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae, Boon et al. 2001; Christidis and Boles 2008; del Hoyo et al. 1997; Higgins 1999). It has been suggested by some authorities, however, that the subspecies may actually constitute a separate species (McAllan and Bruce 1988), though this has not been scientifically investigated (McAllan et al. 2004).
Pending molecular analysis, Christidis and Boles (2008) have suggested on biogeographical grounds that the taxon is likely to be most closely related to the Norfolk Island Green Parrot (Cyanoramphus cookii), as either a subspecies of what they have tentatively called the Tasman Parakeet (Cyanoramphus cookii subflavescens), or possibly a full species (Cyanoramphus subflavescens).
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