The three species of Kākāriki
or New Zealand parakeets
are the most common species
in the genus Cyanoramphus
, family Psittacidae
. The birds' Māori
name, which is the most commonly used, means "small parrot.
The three species on mainland New Zealand are the Yellow-crowned Parakeet Cyanoramphus auriceps
, the Red-crowned Parakeet
or Red-fronted Parakeet
, C. novaezelandiae
, and the critically endangered Malherbe's Parakeet
(or Orange-fronted Parakeet
) C. malherbi
All above subspecies are native to New Zealand, and have become endangered as a result of habitat destruction following European settlement and nest predation by introduced species of mammal. Scarce on the mainland, kākāriki have survived well on outlying islands, and also through breeding in captivity since they make good pets. A licence from the New Zealand Department of Conservation is now required to breed them in captivity.
In October 2004, according to the Porirua City News (17 November, page 8), two pairs of Red-crowned Parakeets were seen in the Porirua Scenic Reserve, probably having flown from Kapiti Island.
Mitochondrial DNA analysis has indicated that the Orange-fronted Parakeet is a separate species and not just a colour variation of the Yellow-crowned Parakeet. The Orange-fronted Parakeet is highly endangered, with less than 200 individuals remaining in the North Canterbury region of the South Island. Furthermore, Chatham Island's Yellow-crowned Parakeet and the red-crowned populations of New Caledonia, Norfolk Island and the subantarctic islands have been determined to be distinct species (Boon et al., 2001).
The red-crowned parakeets are common in aviculture and they are relatively easy to breed. They lay about 3 to 5 white eggs in a nesting box. A cinnamon colour variety and a pied variety are available.
References & Notes
- Boon, W.M.; Kearvell, J.; Daugherty, C. H.; Chambers, G. K. (2001): Molecular systematics and conservation of kakariki (Cyanoramphus spp.). Science for Conservation 176 PDF fulltext
- Scofield, R. Paul (2005): The supposed Macquarie Island parakeet in the collection of Canterbury Museum. Notornis 52(2): 117-120. PDF fulltext
- White, John (1887): The Ancient History of the Māori, Vol. 1: 55. Wellington, Government Printer.