The Society Kakariki (Cyanoramphus ulietanus) – also known as Society Parakeet or Brown-headed Parakeet – was endemic to Raiatea, the second largest of the Society Islands in French Polynesia.
This species became extinct soon after 1773. It was presumably a forest species, as this was the native vegetation of this island.
This species is only known from two specimens from Raiatea, French Polynesia, collected on Cook’s voyage in either 1773 or 1777, now kept in Vienna and London.
They averaged 9.75 to 10 inches or 25 cm in length (including the tail).
The head was blackish-brown, paler on the neck, rump and wings. The lower back and tail-coverts were brownish-red; and the under wing-coverts and outer webs to flight-feathers were grey-blue. There was a grey edging on primary and secondary feathers. The breast, abdomen and under tail-coverts were olive-yellow. The middle tail-feathers were olive-brownish. The outer tail feathers were grey. The irises were probably orangey-red in the adult and brown in the juveniles. The feet were greyish-brown. The bill was a pale bluish-grey or grey-brown with ablackish at tip. Males and females look alike.
Only two museum specimens are known to exist of this species. One is kept at the Natural History Museum in London and the other at the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. The date of their origin is disputed. Erwin Stresemann (1950) and James C. Greenway (1958) listed 1773 or 1774; but ornithologist David G. Medway from New Zealand stated that two specimens were taken in November 1777 during James Cook’s third circumnavigation.
The reasons of its extinction remained unknown, although it is probably the result of the clearance of the islands’ forests, hunting, or predation by introduced species like rats might have played a role.
It must have become extinct shortly after its discovery.
Species: Scientific: Cyanoramphus ulietanus … English: Brown-headed Parakeet, Society Parakeet or Society Kakariki … Dutch: Bruinkopkakariki … German: Braunkopflaufsittich … French: Perruche à tête brune … CITES Status – Extinct
- Greenway, James (1967): Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the WorldDay, David (1981): The Doomsday Book of AnimalsFuller, Errol (2000): Extinct BirdsFlannery, Tim and Schouten, Peter (2001): A Gap in Nature