Nicobar parakeet

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The Nicobar parakeet (Psittacula caniceps) belongs to the family of parakeets, Psittaculidae.

These parakeet species are endemic to India and are distributed in Great and Little Nicobar, Menchal and Kondul islands. The current population of these parakeets is yet to be precisely estimated as the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 may have significantly affected the size and distribution of their population. These parakeets are monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Nicobar Parakeet Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Nicobar parakeet - Overview

  • Scientific name: Psittacula caniceps
  • Species author: (Blyth, 1846)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Palaeornis caniceps Blyth, 1846
  • Family: Psittaculidae › Psittaciformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Nicobar parakeet, Chinese: 布莱氏鹦鹉, French: Perruche des Nicobar, German: Graukopfsittich, Spanish: Cotorra de Nicobar, Russian: Сероголовый кольчатый попугай, Japanese: アオムネオオダルマインコ
  • Other names: Blyth's Parakeet
  • Distribution: India (Great Nicobar, Little Nicobar, Menschal Island, Kondul Island)
  • Diet and feeding habits: Wild fruits
  • IUCN status listing: Near Threatened (NT)

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Nicobar parakeet (Psittacula caniceps) is a large parakeet, measuring about 55 to 60 cm in length and weighing 220 grams.

The overall plumage of these parakeets is yellowish green. The crown and cheeks are pale gray. There is a black frontal band extending up to the eyes. The winglets and the base of the secondaries are deep blackish blue. The primaries are blackish with deep blue tips.

Tail is long and green with bluish green central feathers. The undertail is dull golden yellow. There is a broad black band at the chin below the lower mandible, extending up to the sides of the neck.

The upper mandible in male Nicobar parakeet is pinkish red with pale yellow tip. The lower mandible is black. In females both the mandibles are black. Their call is a continuous screeching sound.
Indian birds - Nicobar parakeet - Psittacula caniceps
Birds of India - Nicobar parakeet - Psittacula caniceps

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These parakeet species are endemic to India and are distributed in Great and Little Nicobar, Menchal and Kondul islands.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these parakeet species are Great Nicobar and Little Nicobar which are also Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs).

Ecosystem and habitat

These parakeet species are highly forest dependent. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters.

The natural ecosystems of these parakeet species include primary or secondary evergreen forests, tall forests and tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests. These species also inhabit artificial ecosystems like arecanut and coconut plantations.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Nicobar parakeet species is mostly fruits of Pandanus palms. Wild fruits, berries and nuts are their primary food. They feed in small groups in the canopy of tall trees.

Reproduction and breeding habits

Not much is known about the breeding season and breeding behavior of these Nicobar parakeet species.

Kuppusamy Sivakumar of Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History had observed two nests in March 1997 and 1998 in Syzygium samarangense and Terminalia bialata trees.

The nests were in tree holes located at a height of 19.5 meters and 20 meters. Both the clutches contained two eggs each. The parents incubated the eggs and fed the hatchlings.

Migration and movement patterns

The Nicobar parakeet is a non-migratory resident bird.

Post breeding, the juvenile parakeets may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range. In response to food availability sometimes they become nomadic.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Nicobar parakeet (Psittacula caniceps) is estimated to be around 6,000 to 15,000 individual birds (pre-tsunami estimate). The overall population trend of these species is considered to be under decline. Throughout its range it was reported to be common. The generation length is 7.5 years. Their distribution size is about 1,700

The Nicobar parakeet (Psittacula caniceps) is approaching the thresholds for being Vulnerable, under the range size criterion, under the population trend criterion and also under the population size criterion. Loss of habitat and trapping of adults and juveniles for pet trade are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these parakeet species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the parakeet species and has listed it as "Near Threatened". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Evaluated’ for the Nicobar parakeet (Psittacula caniceps) and listed in Appendix II.
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Psittacula caniceps
Species:P. caniceps
Binomial name:Psittacula caniceps
IUCN status listing:
Near Threatened
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Image source:
Image author: John Gould | License: Public domain
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