Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-crowned Parakeet

Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 1

Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Red-crowned Parakeet ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 12/20/11

Christmas is nearly on us, so a bird in the Christmas colours of red and green seems appropriate. Here is the Red-crowned Parakeet, one of the relatively few non-seabirds encountered on the trip to the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

We found these birds at several locations on Enderby Island, one of the smaller of the Auckland Islands and the first site at which we actually landed after leaving Dunedin. Enderby Island is mainly basalt with rocky cliffs, as in the second photo, and it reminded me very much of St Paul Island in the Bering Sea that I visited three years ago. On both the vegetation is mainly tundra, though unlike the treeless St Paul Enderby has patches of very gnarled dwarf rata forest.
Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 2

Enderby Island by Ian 2

The Parakeets feed mainly on the ground and we found them both on the tundra and in the forest. They are herbivorous, and the bird in the first photo is feeding on the dense understory of the forest – the third photo shows the same bird in close-up eating very fine shoots and leaves.
Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 3

Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 3

The fourth photo shows a different bird feeding on the flower-heads of small herbs growing on the tundra near the beach where we landed.
Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 4

Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) by Ian 4

I’m used to seeing parrots in more tropical locations, so it was a startling to see these small (25-28cm/10-11in long) elegant parrots in such a cold and rugged environment. They are obvious tough little birds, though their confiding habits, ground-feeding life-style and choice of low nesting sites makes them very vulnerable to introduced predators such as feral cats,rats and, in New Zealand, stoats. The Red-crowned Parakeet used to widespread throughout New Zealand but is now rare or extinct on the two main islands, though it survives well on Stewart and other offshore islands. As you can judge from the photos, the birds are very approachable and took little notice of us.
On the website, there are now nine species of penguins http://www.birdway.com.au/spheniscidae/index.htm and thirteen species of albatrosses http://www.birdway.com.au/diomedeidae/index.htm . The additional species of albatrosses include ones that were treated as sub-species by Christidis and Boles, 2008, but are now recognised as full species by Birdlife International and the IOC.
I wish you a safe and happy Christmas and best wishes

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:

Thanks again, Ian, for sharing your great adventures. This parakeet, indeed, looks decked out for the colors of Christmas. Would be pretty to have a flock of them perching on a Christmas Tree. Merry Christmas to you, Ian, and our readers.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 NKJV)

Check out Ian’s other Parrots and Parakeets at his Parrots & Allies Psittacidae Family page. Our Birds of the World Psittacidae Family page has more Parrot and Parakeet photos.

Ian’s Other Birds of the Week


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