Blue-backed Parrot Tanygnathus everetti


Justification of Red List category
The Blue-backed Parrot has been listed as Endangered due to the lack of recent records on many areas of its former range, concluding that the species has been very rare for many years. Thus, the species is thought to exist in a very small and restricted population, at present confined to Samar, and Mindanao, with the stronghold of the population residing on Tawi-Tawi of the Sulu Islands. Major threats such as deforestation and habitat degradation as well as ongoing trapping for trade are also contributing to a continuing decline. If further surveys suggests that the population is far lower than considered however, the species may require uplisting in the future.

Population justification
The population is thought to be highly fragmented and extremely rare (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2020, P. Widmann in litt. 2020). Thus, the species is thought to number far less than 2,500 mature individuals, and possibly even less than 250 (P. Widmann in litt. 2020). Accounting for the lack of species's records in recent years however, the population is placed here in the band of 250-999 mature individuals, roughly converted to 375-1500 individuals.

Trend justification
Trapping for the cagebird and pet trade is one of the major threats towards the species (P. Widmann in litt. 2020). Habitat degradation due to the illegal cutting of trees (particularly across Tawi-Tawi which holds the majority of the species's population) is also accelerating population declines (G. Jakosalem in litt. 2020). Recent forest loss analyses (Global Forest Watch 2020) for example show that the the species may be declining at a rate of c. 13% over a three generation period (14.4 years; Bird et al. 2020), assuming that the population declines at the same rate as forest loss. Thus, although the species may occur in degraded forests (similar to the Azure-rumped Parrot), with the combined effect of trapping and habitat degradation, the species is inferred to be undergoing a continued decline of 10-19% over a three-generation period.

Distribution and population

Tanygnathus everetti has a restricted range, occurring only on parts of Samar, Mindanao, and Tawi-Tawi (Sulu Islands), Philippines (Arndt et al. 2019, eBird 2020, P. Widmann in litt. 2020, D. Allen in litt. 2020). It is considered to have disappeared across most of its former range, with a severe lack of records in recent years (P. Widmann in litt. 2020, J. Eaton in litt. 2020). Records for example have been extremely scarce or even absent on Polillo, Samar, Panay (although the Aklan region, covering a third of the forests in the Central Panay mountains have not been recently surveyed; L. M. J. Paguntalan per N. Collar in litt. 2020), Negros (with only one record from Mt. Kanlaon in 2008 and no records since; L. M. J. Paguntalan per N. Collar in litt. 2020), Luzon, Western Visayas, Leyte, and Siargao Island (no records were observed during 2016-2017; P. Widmann in litt. 2020) for many decades (J. Eaton in litt. 2020, R. Hutchinson in litt. 2020, G. Jakosalem in litt. 2020).
It is therefore possible that the species may be extirpated from these sites (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2020). On Samar, the species was only sighted 2 times during a recent 2013-2019 survey, with zero birds seen in captivity. On Mindanao, where the species was easily seen between 2003-2005, with roosts (holding up to 20 birds) being regularly encountered, in recent 2010-2020 surveys, the species has not been sighted at more than 2 individuals in any one time. There has only been one sighting from forests near Senator Ninoy Aquino and occasional sightings from Surigao del Sur on Mindanao, albeit other areas with suitable forest habitats may be under-surveyed, particularly across lowland regions (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2019, 2020, L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2020).  However, given the continued clearence of forests and existing low numbers, any existing individuals on Samar and Mindanao are considered to be functionally extinct (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2020). The stronghold of the species is now thought to be restricted to Tawi-Tawi (holding around 3000 hectares of forest; L. M. J. Paguntalan per N. Collar in litt. 2020), with only 3-7 individuals found in recent surveys across the Panglima Sugala region of the Malum Watershed, mostly observed in forest interiors or forest edges and clearings (eBird 2020, R. Hutchinson in litt. 2020, G. Jakosalem in litt. 2020, L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2020). Race dupondi may additionally be extinct due to no recent records, with race burbidgii only occurring in the remaining forests of Tawi Tawi, although it is highly uncommon here, and in some areas of Jolo (D. Allen in litt. 2020, L. M. J. Paguntalan per N. Collar in litt. 2020).


Very little is known about the ecology of the species, albeit it is likely to occur in similar habitats to the Azure-rumped Parrot Tanygnathus sumatranus. The species may therefore occur across tropical, lowland, and montane forests, as well as mangrove swamps and degraded forests (del Hoyo et al. 1997).


Trapping of adults and nestlings for the cagebird and pet trade are the most significant threats, with heavy trapping particularly extensive in the early 2000s (P. Widmann in litt. 2020, S. Mahood in litt. 2020). Scarcity of captured birds in markets (D. Gutierrez per N. Collar in litt. 2020) also suggests the genuine rarity of the species. There is also some level of forest loss across the species' range (Global Forest Watch 2020). Mining activities also continue to reduce habitats across Tawi-Tawi (D. Allen in litt. 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Conservation efforts, carried out by the local government are ongoing on Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi (G. Jakosalem in litt. 2020). Across the entire region, c. 70% of the land is also owned by the Department of Agriculture for the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) programme, in which local communities may be given some amenities (G. Jakosalem in litt. 2020). Designation of a complementary protected area is also ongoing on two different parts of Tawi-Tawi (I. Sarenas per N. Collar in litt. 2018). The Regional Development Council on Panay has additionally endorsed a project for the 2019-2022 period to declare the Central Panay Mountains as a protected area (L. M. J. Paguntalan per N. Collar in litt. 2020). 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Surveys across the restricted range of the species are urgently needed to assess the current population size (P. Widmann in litt. 2020), any ecological requirements, and the impact of trade. Lowland forests across parts of the species's former range, including Luzon and Catanduanes Island also require ongoing monitoring (L. M. J. Paguntalan in litt. 2020). Methods of conservation and site protection on other islands in which the species occurs (namely Samar and Mindanao) must also continue. Instate biodiversity reserves or protected areas across the watersheds and mineral reserves of Dinagat Island, where large parrots have previously been observed (L. M. J. Paguntalan per N. Collar in litt. 2020).


Text account compilers
Fernando, E.

Allen, D., Butchart, S., Collar, N., Eaton, J., Ekstrom, J., Gutierrez, D., Hutchinson, R., Jakosalem, G., Mahood, S., Paguntalan, L.M.J., Sarenas, I. & Widmann, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Tanygnathus everetti. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/blue-backed-parrot-tanygnathus-everetti on 11/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 11/12/2023.