Yellow-crowned Parakeets or Yellow-fronted Parakeets

The Yellow-crowned Parakeet or Yellow-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) is endemic to New Zealand and neighboring islands. Its numbers are decreasing and this species is uncommon throughout its range.

The larger and more brightly colored Forbes’ Parakeet was formerly considered a subspecies of the Yellow-crowned Parakeet – but recent research has demonstrated it to be an independent species.

Distribution

The species is found across the main three islands of South and North Islands of New Zealand,subantarctic Auckland Islands, as well as Three KIngs, Little Barrier, Kapiti and Stewart Islands.

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    The Yellow-crowned Parakeet shares most of its range with the mainland Red-crowned Parakeet form, being found on the main islands and mot off-shore islands, and as far south as the Auckland Island group.

    This species prefers mixed Nothofagus-Podocarpus forests, usually at higher altitude than the related Red-crowned Parakeets (C. novaezelandiae). On those small islands where both species co-exist, they are typically found in denser, unbroken forests. The Yellow-crowned Parakeet is rarely found in secondary forest, and is absent from logged forests. This species relies heavily on forest preservation for its future survival. The Yellow-crowned Parakeet is still found in moderate numbers, but only in the largest and least disturbed forest tracts.

    Yellow-crowned Parakeet, Cyanoramphus auriceps

    Description

    These small, bright green parakeets are 23 – 25 cm or ~9 – 9.2 inches long (including the tail).

    The plumage is mainly green. The breast, abdomen and under tail fathers are yellowish-green. The narrow red band to its forehead extends to the eyes. The crown is yellow. There is a red patch on each side of the lower back. The outer webs of the flight-feathers are violet-blue. The irises are orange-red and the bill is a pale bluish-grey. The feet are grey.

    Immature birds look like adult, but have duller forehead markings and pale reddish-brown irises.

    Similar Species ID: The Red-crowned Parakeet (C. novaezelandiae) has red crown and band from bill to behind eye.

    Captive birds have lived up to 10 years.

    Calls / Vocalizations

    They make rapid high pitched chattering calls.

    Yellow-crowned Parakeet, Cyanoramphus auriceps

    Breeding / Reproduction

    Breeding occurs mainly in October through December. The average clutch consists of 5 to 9 eggs which are incubated for about 19 days.

    Breeding and mortality were closely related to cycles of beech seeding. Following a heavy beech mast, parakeets fed extensively on beech seed, and bred not only during their normal late summer breeding season, but right through the following winter, spring and summer. During this time, the parakeet population increased dramatically. The following autumn, the population a sharp decline was noted as a result of the depletion of beech seed and high rates of predation by Stoats (Shorttail Weasel) and other predators. Nesting parakeets are particularly vulnerable to predation because they are cavity nesters and their chicks are very noisy immediately before fledging easily attracting the attention of predators.

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      The Yellow-crowned Parakeet is well represented in both local and overseas aviaries.

      This species hybridizes readily with the Red-crowned Parakeet and pure-bred stock is difficult to find. In the wild, both Kakariki species can often be seen in the same vicinity, but naturally occurring hybrids are rarely reported.

      At this time, the Yellow-crowned Parakeet’s status both in the wild and in captivity seems reasonably secure, although continued forest clearance puts its continuing existence at risk.

      Behavior

      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.

      Captive Breeding, Housing and Care

      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.

      Status and Threats

      This species’ range and numbers have declined in the last 100 years due to predation from introduced species, such as Stoats (Shorttail Weasels) and habitat destruction. Unlike the Red-crowned Parakeet, the Yellow-crowned Parakeet has not been extirpated from the mainland of New Zealand, but its population has decreased and this species is now uncommon throughout its range.

      Even though precise population estimates are unavailable and its present population trends are unclear, this species may, at this point in time, be stable and its range may have expanded in some areas due to conservation efforts.

      Past declines have been attributed to deforestation, habitat modification and the introduction of alien predators, particularly cats, stoats (shorttail weasels) and rats. On offshore islands, the Red-crowned Parakeet (C. novaezelandiae) is usually much more common and on Solander Island may have completely replaced the Yellow-crowned Parakeet. On Auckland Island, there is an unnaturally high rate of hybridization between the two species.

      Taxonomy:

      This is a monotypic species (only one species). Mitochondrial DNA analysis has shown that the Malherbe’s Parakeet or Orange-fronted Parakeet (C. malherbi) is a separate species and not just a color variation of the Yellow-crowned Parakeet, as was previously assumed.

      Cyanoramphus auriceps (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into C. auriceps, C. forbesi and C. malherbi following Boon et al. (2000).

      Species Names:

      Species: Scientific: Cyanoramphus auriceps auriceps … English: Yellow-fronted Parakeet, Yellow-crowned Parakeet, Yellow-fronted Kakariki … Dutch: Geelvoorhoofdkakariki, Goudkopkakariki … Spanish: Perico Maorí Cabecigualdo … German: Springsittich … French: Perruche à front jaune / Perruche à tête d’or … CITES I – Protected Species

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        Forbe’s Yellow-fronted Parakeets aka Chatham Island Yellow-crowned Parakeets

         

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        The Forbe’s Yellow-fronted Parakeet / Forbes’ Kakariki or Chatham Island Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus forbesi) was formerly considered a subspecies of the Yellow–crowned or Yellow-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps), but recent research has demonstrated it to be an independent species.

        Distribution / Range

        The Forbe’s Yellow-fronted Parakeet was formerly found on three islands of the Chatham group. Today, it is only found on Mangere and Little Mangere islands – both are located east of New Zealand’s South Island.

        It is critically an endangered species with less of 100 of them still existing in their natural range.

        These parakeets prefer dense unbroken forest and scrub for their habitat. They have also been observed in more open habitats such as grasslands. They also inhabit non-forest habitats when food is scarce in the forest. They are usually seen alone or in pairs. They rarely occur in flocks.

        This species is known to hybridize with the Chatham Red-crowned Parakeet that also inhabits Mangere and Little Mangere islands. A small population of pure Forbes’ Parakeets does exist on the tiny, 113 ha Mangere Island.

        Description

        This medium-sized parakeet reaches 25 cm or 10 inches in length, including its long tail.

        The plumage is generally green. It has a yellowish green belly and a narrow red frontal band that does not extending to its eyes. The outer flight feathers are greenish blue.

        Similar Species: It resembles the Yellow-crowned Parakeet, but has a narrow red band to the forehead which does not extend to the eyes. The plumage to the underparts is more yellowish. It also is slightly larger. Its calls are also quite different.

        Breeding

        Breeding occurs from October to March. Nesting pairs have been observed remaining together throughout the year, defending their territories, and building nests in tree cavities. The female usually lays five to nine eggs. The chicks hatch about 20 days later.

        Behavior

        They are usually observed in pairs or small groups in treetops or on outer branches of bushes outside the breeding season. Pairs usually remain alone throughout year. They rarely occur in flocks, and if so, they are most likely small family groups.

        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.

        Captive Breeding, Housing and Care

        Diet / Feeding

        They feed on leaves, buds, flowers, shoots, seeds, fruit, berries, nuts and other parts of plants.

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          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.

          Status / Conservation

          The Forbe’s Yellow-fronted Parakeet is one of the rarest parakeet species in New Zealand.

          It is seriously endangered because of hybridization with red-crowned parakeets, loss of habitat due to forest clearance, and predation by introduced cats. Yellow-crowned parakeets are forest birds and rely on forest preservation for survival. Some are bred and do well in captivity. Conservation plans include the restoration and legal protection of forests in the Chatham Islands, and later reintroducing some captive birds into the wild.

          The Forbes’ Parakeet is critically endangered and as the Red-fronted Kakariki also inhabit their range and are now far more common than the Forbes’ parakeets, some Forbes’ started to breed with the red fronts. Such hybridization is threatening the genetic integrity of the Forbes’ Parakeet (Chan et al., 2006).

          Before Europeans arrived to the Chatham Islands, the two species probably did not commonly interbreed. However, once humans deforested much of the islands, the numbers of the Forbes’ Parakeets declined, as they prefer to live and forage in forests. Red-fronted Kakariki, however, do better in deforested areas.

          Taxonomy and Names

          The Forbe’s Yellow-fronted Parakeet (C. forbesi) has been the subject of some controversy.It was debatable as to whether it should be considered a subspecies of the Yellow-crowned Kakariki or a separate species of its own until genetic analyses demonstrated that it is a distinct species (Boon et al., 2000).

          Species: Cyanoramphus forbesi, formerly Cyanoramphus auriceps forbesi … English: Forbe’s Yellow-fronted Parakeet or Forbes’ Kakariki … Dutch: Forbe’s Geelvoorhoofdkakariki … German: Chatham Springsittich, Forbe’s Springsittich … French: Perruche de Forbes

          CITES I – Protected Species

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