Reischek's parakeet

Cyanoramphus hochstetteri (Reischek, 1889)

Order: Psittaciformes

Family: Psittacidae

New Zealand status: Endemic

Conservation status: Naturally Uncommon

Other names: Antipodes Island red-crowned parakeet, Reischeks parakeet

Geographical variation: Nil

Reischek's parakeet. Adult on tussock. Antipodes Island, March 2009. Image © Mark Fraser by Mark Fraser

Reischek's parakeet. Adult on tussock. Antipodes Island, March 2009. Image © Mark Fraser by Mark Fraser

Reischek’s parakeet is one of two Cyanoramphus parakeet species that inhabit the remote Antipodes Islands. It is a medium-sized, brightly coloured, green parrot with a red crown, that looks very similar to other ‘red-crowned’ parakeets (e.g. C. novaezelandiae). But appearances can be deceiving. Genetic studies reveal that crown colour may not be a good indicator of parakeet taxonomy, and that the diminutive orange-fronted parakeet may be the closest relative of Reischek’s parakeet. It is common throughout the Antipodes Islands, particularly in more open areas and coastal fringes close to penguin colonies.

Identification

Reischek’s parakeets are medium-sized, long-tailed parrots with broad, rounded wings and predominantly emerald green plumage, with a bright red fore-crown. They are similar in appearance to red-crowned parakeets, but are larger and their body plumage is more yellow-green. Males are larger than females.

Voice: characteristic parakeet chatter, with variety of softer tur-tur-tur calls. Calls are similar to other Cyanoramphus species of similar size.

Similar species: easily distinguished from the much larger, uniformly green Antipodes Island parakeet with which it shares its range. Reischek’s parakeets are significantly smaller, have distinct red crown coloration (similar to true red-crowned parakeets) and are much more likely to take flight when disturbed.

Distribution and habitat

Reischek’s parakeets occur throughout the Antipodes Islands, including the smaller satellite islands. They are common throughout, but particularly so in areas of low vegetation in more open areas around the North Plains and the coastal fringe. In winter, large numbers of Reischek’s parakeets are seen within abandoned erect-crested penguin breeding colonies. They are capable of strong flight, and flock to seasonally available foods.

Population

Reischek’s parakeets are common on Antipodes Island and Bollons Island, with smaller numbers on Archway, Windward and Leeward Islands. The total population is thought to be approximately 4,000-6,000 birds.

Threats and conservation

Reischek’s parakeets apparently have a stable population, and are common within their 2,000 ha range. They are protected by the islands’ isolated location and their status as a strict Nature Reserve. The biggest threat to Reischek’s parakeet’s long-term survival is the arrival of mammalian predators. An attempt to eradicate mice from Antipodes Island was made in winter of 2016.

Breeding

Relatively little is known about breeding for Reischek’s parakeets. They appear to nest from October to March within tunnels modified or constructed within the bases of clumps of tussocks or ferns. Clutch size in the wild is unknown. It is likely that their breeding ecology and behavior are similar to those of other Cyanoramphus parakeets.

Behaviour and ecology

Reischek’s parakeets are more abundant than Antipodes Island parakeets in most habitats. Significant differences in diet between the two parakeet species have been observed. Strong seasonal and annual dietary differences related to food availability are also apparent. Reischek’s parakeets are strong fliers and have been observed flying between islands within the Antipodes group. Social behaviour is similar to other species of Cyanoramphus parakeets, but they have been noted spending considerable periods basking and preening in sheltered areas. Like other Cyanoramphus species they are strongly territorial around nests, and call loudly and chase intruders from immediate vicinity.

Food

Consumption of leaves, flowers, berries and seeds from 14 plant species has been recorded. Invertebrates are a minor component of the diet. Reischek’s parakeets occasionally scavenge from corpses of petrels and albatrosses, but not as frequently as Antipodes Island parakeets. Reischek’s parakeets forage extensively on the ground, including over accumulated mud and faeces within vacated erect-crested penguin colonies, when the penguins are away on their winter migration.

Websites

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reischek's_Parakeet

http://terranature.org/parakeetantipodes.htm

References

Elliott, G.P.; Greene, T.C.; Nathan, H.W.; Russell, J.C. 2015.  Winter bait uptake trials and related field work on Antipodes Island in preparation for mouse (Mus musculus) eradication. DOC Research and Development Series 345. 34 p.

Greene, T.C. 1999. Aspects of the ecology of Antipodes Island parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor) and Reischek’s parakeet (C. novaezelandiae hochstetteri) on Antipodes Island, October-November 1995. Notornis 46: 301-310.

Higgins, P.J. (ed.) 1999. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Vol. 4, parrots to dollarbird. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Oliver, W.R.B. 1955. New Zealand birds. 2nd edn. A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington.

Taylor, R.H. 1975. Some ideas on speciation in New Zealand parakeets. Notornis 22: 110-121.

Taylor, R.H. 1985. Status, habits and conservation of Cyanoramphus parakeets in the New Zealand region. ICBP Tech. Publ. 3: 195-211.

Recommended citation

Greene, T.C. 2013 [updated 2017]. Reischek’s parakeet. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Reischek's parakeet

Social structure
monogamous
Breeding season
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
Nest type
burrow
Nest description
Burrows in base of thick vegetation.
Nest height (mean)
0 m
Nest height (min)
0 m
Nest height (max)
0 m
Maximum number of successful broods
1
Clutch size (mean)
Unknown
Egg colour
Lustreless white
Egg laying dates
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
Interval between eggs in a clutch
Unknown days
Incubation behaviour
female only
Incubation length (mean)
Unknown
Nestling type
altricial
Nestling period (mean)
39 days
Nestling period (min)
32 days
Nestling period (max)
49 days
Age at fledging (mean)
39 days
Age at fledging (min)
32 days
Age at fledging (max)
49 days
Age at independence (mean)
Unknown
Age at first breeding (typical)
< 1 year
Maximum longevity
Unknown
Maximum dispersal
Unknown