Antipodes Parakeet Cyanoramphus unicolor


Justification of Red List category
This species has a very restricted range with the chance introduction of mammalian predators to the main Auckland Island being a plausible future threat that could drive the taxon to Critically Endangered in a very short time. For these reasons it is classified as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population was estimated to number 2,000-3,000 mature individuals in 1978 (Taylor 1985). The density of Antipodes Island parakeets was estimated using distance sampling in 2013 to be 1.02 (0.47-2.22) per ha, suggesting 2,142 individuals and therefore a similar population size to the 1978 estimate, although recent estimates following mouse eradication suggest that the species may now exceed this (Horn et al. 2019; T. Greene in litt. 2020). Currently the population trend is still believed to be stable (Robertson et al. 2021). For these reasons, the population size is still thought to be in the range of 2,000-3,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
There are no new data on population trends, but there is no indication of a population decline and the population size is thought to be consistent with past estimates (Elliott et al. 2015). The population trend was believed to be stable throughout the last three generations (Robertson et al. 2013, 2017, 2021). Although some birds were affected by poisoning following mouse eradication in 2016, subsequent distance sampling showed that the species has persisted and increased in numbers since (Horn et al. 2019). Population density may increase further due to reduced competition with mice (Horn et al. 2019).

Distribution and population

Cyanoramphus unicolor is endemic to the uninhabited and protected islands of the Antipodes, New Zealand. It is common on the main island (20 km2) and Bollons Island (0.5 km2), and occurs in small numbers on Leeward (0.1 km2), Inner Windward (0.1 km2) and Archway (0.1 km2) islets.


It is found throughout the island habitats, but is most common in the tall, tussock grassland and sedges, particularly near the coast, in well vegetated gullies and near substantial penguin colonies (Greene 1999, Greene and Miskelly 2014, Elliott et al. 2015). The leaves of these grasses form the main part of the species' diet, supplemented with seeds, berries, flowers, carrion and small storm petrels which they are known to kill (Taylor 1985, Greene 1999, Greene and Miskelly 2014, Elliott et al. 2015). It nests in underground burrows, often more than one metre long, in tussock or sedge (Taylor 1985, Greene 1999). In captivity, clutch-size is between five and six, but only one to three fledged young are generally seen with adults in the wild. A single nest has been located in the wild containing 5 eggs (Greene 1999). Young probably start breeding at one year of age. Birds may be quite long-lived - two recaptures from Antipodes Island were at least 10 years old (Heather and Robertson 2015).


The accidental introduction of mammalian predators, such as rats Rattus spp., cats and mustelids Mustela spp., is the main potential threat to the species. Introduced mice have previously competed with the species for food, however have been controlled by eradication programmes (Horn et al. 2019). Known to hybridise with Reischek’s parakeets in captivity, however there is no evidence for this in the wild.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The Antipodes Islands are nature reserves, and landing is strictly by permit only. Comprehensive biosecurity screening for all visitors, gear and supplies is a requirement (T. Greene in litt. 2020). Eradication of mice from the Antipodes was attempted in 2016 (Department of Conservation 2016) and the success of this operation was confirmed from monitoring in 2018 (Horn et al. 2019). Regular monitoring of the population has been underway since 2013 prior to and following mouse eradication (T. Greene in litt. 2020).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue regular monitoring.


32 cm. Plump, almost all-green parrot. Green head, body with blue wing-coverts, and some flight feathers. Similar spp. Red-crowned Parakeet C. novaezelandiae has red crown, patch behind eye. Voice Wide range of chattering calls, lower-pitched than other Cyanoramphus species.


Text account compilers
Khwaja, N., McClellan, R., Taylor, J., Stringer, C., Mahood, S., Benstead, P., Vine, J.

Roberts, A.D., Weeber, B. & Greene, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Cyanoramphus unicolor. Downloaded from on 29/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/02/2024.