Schlagwort-Archive: Psittaciformes

Some Micronesian beauties

A while ago I found this Japanese book about the birds of Micronesia online while searching for I don’t no what, it originally probably included more than these three plates, however, these are the only ones that I could find and I want to share them here because they are so exceedingly beautiful.:

Tokutaro Momiyama: Horyo Nanyo Shoto-san chorui. Tokyo: Nihon Chogakkai: Taisho 11. 1922
(public domain)


I will name the birds with their current names in the order in which they are depicted.


White-throated Ground Dove (Alopecoenas xanthonurus ), female and male 
Caroline Ground Dove (Alopecoenas kubaryi)
White-browed Crake (Amaurornis cinereus)
Pohnpei Lorikeet (Trichoglossus rubiginosus)
Purple-capped Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus ponapensis)
Micronesian Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula oceanica ssp. monacha)
Kosrae Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus hernsheimi), juvenile
Truk Monarch (Monarcha rugensis), young male, adult male, and female
Yap Olive White-eye (Zosterops oleagineus)
Truk White-eye (Rukia ruki)


edited: 20.10.2019

Heracles inexpectatus Worthy, Hand, Archer, Scofield & De Pietri

Heracles inexpectatus, the unexpected Hercules, is a fossil parrot from the St. Bathans fossil site in New Zealand, that just has been described. [1]

The species is known from only two remains, or rather remains of remains to be more precicely, these are a partial left tibiotarsus and a partial right tibiotarsus, that’s just all. The species can be reconstructed as having reached a size of around 1 m, making it the largest known parrot species, dead or alive.


Unfortunately, one of the authors of this remarkable species apparently seem to think that the new find isn’t appetizing enough for the press, so added a „fierce beak“ to the description and is even speculating that this species, because of it’s size, must have been a predatory bird, which, of course, is complete bullshit. 

According to the paper, the species apparently was a member of the Nestoridae, a family of parrots endemic to New Zealand, and within this family its closest relative appears to be the Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus Grey), a strict herbivor. So, I personally have no idea why one of the authors does such silly speculations. 

Whatsoever … there was once a giant parrot rumbling the forests of new Zealand around 19 Million years ago, and that is remarkable enough, at least for me.



[1] Trevor H. Worthy; Suzanne J. Hand; Michael Archer; R. Paul Scofield; Vanessa L. De Pietri


I need to write some kind of update here since the British- but also the German press apparently need to call this new species a “Cannibal” and a “Horror-Papagei”, and even claim that some scientist allegedly has suggested that this parrot was eating its smaller conspecific mates.  

What a big load of shit, let’s say it together: “SHIT!!!” Which fucking scientist, as they claim, has ever said such a bullshit???  

This was, and I bet my left hand for that, a large kakapo, nothing but a harmless, flightless, vegetarian creature, and the press apparently degenerates more and more to a shitpot full of idiots and arseholes.  

Many Thanks!


edited: 07.08.2019; 08.08.2019

Fossil record of the Psittaciformes


Cacatua sp. ‘Riversleigh, Australia’


Cyrilavis colburnorum Ksepka et al.
Cyrilavis olsoni Feduccia & Martin

Halcyornis toliapicus König

Pseudasturides macrocephalus (Mayr)

Pulchrapollia gracilis (Dyke & Cooper)

Serudaptus pohli Mayr


Messelastur gratulator Peters

Tynskya eocaena Mayr


Heracles inexpectatus Worthy, Hand, Archer, Scofield & De Pietri

Nelepsittacus daphneleeae Worthy et al.
Nelepsittacus donmertoni Worthy et al.
Nelepsittacus minimus Worthy et al.
Nelepsittacus (?) sp. ‘Croc Site Layer, New Zealand’


Agapornis atlanticus Mourer-Chauviré
Agapornis attenboroughi
Agapornis sp.
 ‘Kromdraai B, South Africa’
Agapornis sp. ‘Plovers Lake, South Africa’

Aratinga roosevelti Spillman

Archaeopsittacus verreauxi Milne-Edwards

Bavaripsitta ballmanni Mayr & Göhlich

Conuropsis fratercula Wetmore

Khwenena leopoldinae Manegold

Melopsittacus undulatus (ssp. ‘Pliocene’ ?)

Mogontiacopsitta miocaena Mayr

Namapsitta praeruptorum Mourer-Chauviré et al.

Nandayus vorohuensis Tonni & Noriega

Psittacidae gen. & sp. ‘Baikal Lake, Russia’

Xenopsitta feifari Mlíkovsky


Quercypsitta ivani Mourer-Chauviré
Quercypsitta sp. ‘Walton-on-the-Naze, Great Britain’
Quercypsitta sudrei Mourer-Chauviré

Vastanavidae (?)

Vastanavis cambayensis Mayr et al.
Vastanavis eocaena Mayr et al.


edited: 07.08.2019

Psittacus pacificus – what if …?

… some thoughts about my favorite parrot genus – Cyanoramphus, I think about them very often ….   😉


28.* Cyanoramphus erythronotus.

Society Is.: Tahiti and Raiatea (Forster)
“ [1]


30.* Cyanoramphus ulietanus.

?Ulietea or Raiatea, Society Islands (Lath.). – ?Tanna, New Hebrides (Bullock Coll. Brit. Mus.).
If the Parrot, P. ulieteanns Gm., really came from Ulietea as stated by Latham, it may prove to be the young of P. pacificus Forst. = erythronotus Kuhl.
“ [1]


Number 28., the Black-fronted- or Tahiti-Parakeet is now named as Cyanoramphus zealandicus (Latham), what if the two species, the black-fronted and the Society Islands Parakeet, where indeed only one species?

The Black-fronted Parakeet appears to be very much like the remainder of the Cyanoramphus species, more or less completely green, with bluish wing feathers, and some red feathers behind the eye, but the other species, the Society Islands Parakeet, has a completely different coloration, being brownish olive-colored with a completely blackish head, it is completely unlike any of ist congeners.

The dull form may indeed have been the juvenile of the green one, yet all other species in the genus lack a special juvenile plumage, the young birds look exactly like the adult ones, and the only two known specimens of the Society Islands Parakeet appear to be adult birds – so no, this theory is invalid.


The origin of the two species is another question, it is not that much for certain, that in historical times one was found only on the island of Tahiti and the other one only on Ra’iatea, let alone the prehistorical times …! The only thing absolutely for sure is that the Black-fronted Parakeet indeed inhabited Tahiti.

Can you still follow me?

The genus is very rich in species in New Zealand and occurs there almost everywhere with at least two sympatrical species, and even as much as three on the large South Island (Yellow-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps), Orange-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi), Red-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezealandiae)).

So why should the island of Tahiti not have harbored two species as well? And why should these two species not have occurred on other islands within the Society archipelago as well? We will probably never know that for sure.


There are still so many mysteries surrounding this genus, one is the very disjunct distribution, with giant gaps of which one was only recently filled with the discovery of subfossil remains on the island of Rapa, Austral archipelago.

But this is another story for another day.   🙂



[1] Lionel K. Wiglesworth: Aves polynesiae: a catalogue of the birds of the Polynesian subregion (not including the Sandwich Islands). Berlin: R. Friedlaender & Sohn 1891 In: Abhandlungen und Berichte des Königl. Zoologischen und Anthropologisch-Etnographischen Museums zu Dresden Bd. 3: 1-84. 1890/91. herausgegeben von Hofrath Dr. A. B. Meyer, Director des Museums


edited: 24.10.2018

Mysterious Polynesian parrots

I was writing about a hypothetical parrot species, that formerly may have inhabited the island of Bora Bora, Society Islands here.  


I will now write about some very interesting accounts that were left by Teuira Henry (1847-1915), a educator, ethnologist, folklorist, historian, linguist, and scholar from Tahiti, Society Islands in a manuscript that she reconstructed during her lifetime from the pieces of a lost manuscript which again was written by her grandfather in the years between 1817 and 1856. It included significant amounts of oral folklore, genealogy, histories, myths, and traditional knowledge such as astronomy and navigation. Her manuscript was posthumously published as ‘Ancient Tahiti’ by the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in 1928. [1]  


In 2006, Philippe Raust wrote a little article [2] about the newly discovered and described parrot species found as subfossil remains in French Polynesia, he also mentioned the old Tahitian names of several such parrots, of which some still cannot be assigned to any known species.:  

… Peut être étaient-ce le vini-pa-tea perroquet de couleur pourpre à gorge blanche commun à toutes les îles de la Société et le vini-pa-uri de Pora Pora entièrement rouge décrit par T. Henry dans Tahiti au temps anciens? Il est connu que les plumes rouges étaient recherchées dans les sociétés polynésiennes préeuropéennes où elle symbolisaient le pouvoir des chefs; c’est peut être à cause de cela que ces espèces, trop chassées, ont disparu. T. Henry cite aussi le vini- rehu (perroquet sifleur gris), le tētē (perroquet noir de la Société), le ‘ura (perroquet rouge des montagnes) et le ‘a’a taevao (‘a’a sauvage des îles-sous-le-vent), le tavae (au plumage brillant et multicolore de Motu Iti, Tupai et Maupiha’a): cela fait au moins six espèces de perroquets, perruches et loris qui sont rapportés par la tradition.”  


… Perhaps it was the vini-pa-tea parrot of ​​purple color with white throat common to all Society Islands and the all-red vini-pa-uri from Pora Pora [Bora Bora] described by T. Henry in Tahiti in ‘Tahiti au temps anciens’? It is known that red feathers were sought after in pre-European Polynesian societies where they symbolized the power of chiefs; it is perhaps because of this that these species, overhunted, have disappeared. T. Henry also cites the vini-rehu (gray whistling parrot), the tētē (the society’s black parrot), the ‘ura (red mountain parrot) and the ‘a’a taevao (wild ‘a’a of the islands-under-the-wind), the tavae (with bright and multicolored plumage of Motu Iti, Tupai and Maupiha’a): this makes at least six [seven!] species of parrots, parakeets and loris which are brought back by the tradition.”  


So obviously we have seven species of parrots here, which of them is which?  

‘a’a taevao – Society Parakeet (Cyanoramphus ulietanus (Gmelin)) 
tavae – Kuhl’s Lorikeet (Vini kuhlii (Vigors) ssp. ‘Bora Bora’) ? 
tētē – Black-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus zealandicus (Latham)) 
‘ura – a more or less complete red parrot, since it was named for this color 
vini-pa-tea – Blue Lorikeet (Vini peruviana (Statius Müller)) 
vini-pa-uri – Kuhl’s Lorikeet (Vini kuhlii (Vigors) ssp. ‘Bora Bora’) ? 
vini-rehu – a gray parrot [?] which produced a whistling sound, anyway, rehu just means gray  


The Society Islands were home to five scientifically named parrot species that are known either from historical accounts and specimens or from subfossil remains, furthermore there was another species that now is restricted to a single island in the Austral Islands group but was much more widespread in ancient times.  

There are only two of them still existing today, and only one of them still inhabits at least some remnants of its former range – the amazingly beautiful Blue – or Sapphire Lorikeet (Vini peruviana).  



[1] Teuira Henry: Ancient Tahiti. Bishop Museum Bulletins 48: 1-651. 1928 
[2] Philippe Raust: Les Psittacidés disparus de Polynésie Francaise. Te Manu: Bulletin de la Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie 56. Septembre 2006  


Blue Lorikeet (Vini peruviana)  

Depiction from: François Le Vaillant: Histoire naturelle des perroquets. Paris: Levrault, Schoell & Cie. An IX-XII. 1801–1805  
(public domain)  


edited: 17.09.2018

Not everyone in the Ice Age was a giant

Plovers Lake Cave [see photo below] in the Gauteng Province of South Africa is known for its tens of thousands of fossils from the Pleistocene era, the remains date from about 1 Ma. to 70000 years.


Photo: Profberger

(under creative commons license (3.0))

Among the many fossils is a so-called quadrate of a very small Agapornis sp., closely related to the Rosy-faced Lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis (Viellot)), yet very much smaller, reaching a size of only about 12 cm.


just a neat sketch of some Agapornids

It should be noted that another very small Agapornis sp. Is known from another South African site, but this has been dated tob e about 900000 years older, and furthermore these remains appear to have been lost.



[1] Thomas A. Stidham: A small Pleistocene lovebird (Psittacidae: Agapornis) from Plovers lake, South Africa. N. Jb. Geol. Paläont. Abh. 256/1: 123-128. 2010


edited: 23.05.2018