Blue-headed Racquet-tail Prioniturus platenae


Justification of Red List category
Extensive lowland deforestation has resulted in the severe fragmentation and on-going decline in the extent and quality of suitable habitat in this species's small range, which, combined with limited exploitation for the cage-bird trade, is causing a rapid population reduction, thus qualifying it as Vulnerable. It is predicted that these threats will continue to cause rapid declines in the near future.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The lack of recent information regarding this species precludes making strong assertions about its current trend, but the threats of logging, mining and trapping suggest the species is declining rapidly.

Distribution and population

Prioniturus platenae is endemic to Palawan and its satellite islands in the Philippines (Collar et al. 1999), where it is widespread in all mainland municipalities (P. Widmann in litt. 2012). Since 1980, there have been records from seven satellite islands (Calauit, Busuanga, Culion, Dumaran, Rasa, Pandanan and Bugsuk). It reportedly used to be relatively abundant, but the recent paucity of records indicates that it has declined and become generally uncommon, although it still occurs regularly in small numbers at several sites (P. Widmann in litt. 2012).


This poorly-known species inhabits lowland forest, forest edge and nearby cultivation, up to at least 300 m. On islands north of Palawan, it has been recorded in ultrabasic forest, bamboo scrublands, mangrove and in natural grassland with scattered trees.


Forest destruction is the chief threat. Deforestation in lowland Palawan has been extensive, and logging and mining concessions cover most of the island's remaining forested areas. Illegal logging persists in the south of the island. Forest at Iwahig penal colony may be threatened by plans to mine chromite, and habitat on the small island of Culion has been irreparably damaged. Trapping for the cage-bird trade is not considered a major threat, as birds are locally regarded as short-lived in captivity; consequently, the species is only rarely found in confiscated shipments (P. Widmann in litt. 2012). The re-release of birds confiscated from trade may expose wild populations to diseases acquired during captivity. The species regularly feeds in banana plantations and is locally persecuted as an agricultural pest (P. Widmann in litt. 2012).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The whole of Palawan is classed as a game reserve, where hunting is illegal, and the island was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1990. However, the legislation controlling habitat alteration and hunting is difficult to enforce effectively. It occurs in four protected areas: Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which may soon be extended by 325 km2, Rasa Island (where the species may benefit owing to a wardening scheme in place primarily for the conservation of Philippine Cockatoo), Omoi Cockatoo Reserve on Dumaran Island and Culasian Managed Resource Protected Area, Rizal, southern Palawan (P. Widmann in litt. 2007). Iwahig Penal Colony is managed by the Bureau of Prisons but lacks official protection and management.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys in remaining lowland forests throughout its range, particularly around Mt Victoria and in the north (e.g. in the El Nido Reserve). Seek greater control of the cage-bird trade. Support the proposed extension of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Clamp down on illegal logging in the species's range. Ensure the environmental impacts of proposed mining operations are properly assessed and damage is mitigated for. Assess the damage it causes to crops (P. Widmann in litt. 2012) and tackle the threat of persecution through the development of alternative mitigation measures for farmers. Carry out awareness campaigns regarding the protected status of the species (P. Widmann in litt. 2012).


27 cm. Blue-and-green parrot with racquet-like tail extensions. Male has blue head grading into green breast. Rest of plumage bright green, darker on upperparts (especially wings) and yellowish on vent. Whitish-grey bill. Female similar though blue confined to crown and ear-coverts. Similar spp. Blue-naped Parrot Tanygnathus lucionensis is larger, lacks racquets and has red bill. Voice Raucous squawks interspersed with screeches and musical phrases. Hints Most often seen in rapid flight. Unobtrusive and difficult to see when perched.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Lowen, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J.

Tabaranza, B., Widmann, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Prioniturus platenae. Downloaded from on 01/03/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/03/2024.