Malherbes Parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi)

Malherbes Parakeet

[order] PSITTACIFORMES | [family] Psittacidae | [latin] Cyanoramphus malherbi | [authority] Souance, 1857 | [UK] Malherbes Parakeet | [FR] Perruche de Malherbe | [DE] Malherbe-Sittich | [ES] Perico Maori Montano | [NL] Oranjevoorhoofdkakariki | [copyright picture] Birdlife


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Cyanoramphus malherbi AU South Island, New Zealand


Species of the genus Cyanoramphus occur only in the New Zealand region and New Caledonia, except for two species known from the Society Islands, both of which are now extinct. They are small to medium sized parakeets with long tails and predominately green plumage. Most species are forest species, although several of the subantarctic species live in open grassland. The genus formerly had a disjunct distribution, with two species found in the Society Islands and the majority of the genus ranging from New Caledonia to Macquarie Island, but absent from the 4100 km in between. Despite many fossil birds being found in the islands between these two areas being found none of these were of undescribed Cyanoramphus species.

Physical charateristics

Bright blue-green parrot with orange frontal band. Pale lemon-yellow forecrown. Orange patch on sides of rump. Female slightly smaller with proportionally smaller bill. Red-crowned Parakeet C. novaezelandiae has crimson forecrown. Yellow-crowned Parakeet C. auriceps yellow-green. Crimson frontal band. Bright yellow forecrown. Red patch on sides of rump

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 22 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 42 days fledging max.: 44 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 8  


Australasia : South Island, New Zealand. Cyanoramphus malherbi is known from three valleys in the South Island of New Zealand which are all known to support small breeding populations: the South Branch Hurunui River valley, the Hawdon River valley, c.25 km apart, and the Poulter valley, North Canterbury. Birds were sighted in the North Branch of the Hurunui River valley in 2004 and 2005.


It is restricted to beech Nothofagus forest, although it may not have been so historically. It requires mature trees with natural hollows or cavities for nesting. Monitoring has revealed that 82% of nests are in mature living trees, with the remaining 18% in dead trees


Nests found are in mature trees, primarily in red beech Nothofagus fusca. Breeding is linked with the irregular seeding of Nothofagus when numbers can increase substantially. In mast years, many pairs will lay a second clutch and continue to breed through the austral winter. First clutches may average more than eight eggs, with second clutches averaging over seven in 2011. A recent study on Maud Island has shown that birds form pairs at around seven years of age. In another study nests were found in hollows of mamaku (Cyathea medullaris), vacant nests of sacred kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus), a hole in the ground and a hollow in a kohekohe (Disoxylum spectabile). Active nests were found in the austral spring, summer and autumn. Clutch size was 5 eggs. The fledging of three Malherbe?s parakeets was confirmed for one nest 43 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

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. It feeds on seeds, fruits, leaves, flowers, buds and invertebrates

Video Malherbes Parakeet


copyright: Ken Robinson


This species is listed as Critically Endangered because it underwent a population crash following rat invasions in 1990-2000, and it now has a very small and severely fragmented population that has declined during the past ten years. However, the global population is now increasing owing to successful translocations on Chalky Island and Maud Island and control of predators in its South Island range, and if this trend continues it may qualify for downlisting once the number of mature individuals in the population is clarified.
The population fell from 500-700 birds prior to 2000, to 100-200 by 2004. Increased conservation efforts (especially predator control) in its small South Island range and a successful translocation of birds to Chalky and Maud Islands suggest its rapid decline has ceased and some recovery has taken place, with perhaps 450 birds in total in 2009. However, over a ten year (three generation) period the species has still experienced a population reduction in the number of mature individuals, which is placed precautionarily in the band >79% as the latest population estimate includes an unknown but potentially significant proportion of non-mature individuals (translocated birds yet to have bred).
Malherbes Parakeet status Critically Endangered



Distribution map

Malherbes Parakeet distribution range map

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