Green Racquet-tail Prioniturus luconensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Endangered on the basis that its population is estimated to be very small, and thus less numerous than previously thought, and is inferred to be in on-going decline owing to trapping pressure, and the loss and degradation of suitable habitat.

Population justification
Distance sampling along nearly 500 km of line transects at 14 sites across Luzon in 2009-2010, then multiplying site-specific density estimates by reserve area, resulted in estimates of 246 individuals (95% CI: 42-1,434) in Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, and 174 (95% CI: 80-380) in Subic Bay Forest Reserve/Bataan Natural Park (Española et al. 2013). The data therefore suggest that there are fewer than 250 mature individuals in each of the two main remaining sub-populations and imply that the total population could include fewer than 2,500 mature individuals. The population is therefore placed in the band for 1,000-2,499 mature individuals, assumed here to equate to a total of c.1,500-3,800 individuals.

Trend justification
The threats of widespread logging and trapping for the cage-bird trade suggest that this species is undergoing a rapid population decline.

Distribution and population

Prioniturus luconensis is endemic to the Philippines, where it is known from Luzon and Marinduque. Formerly widespread and locally abundant, it has declined rapidly. Virtually all recent records have been confined to Subic Bay Forest Reserve on Luzon, where it is still locally common. However, at two sites with records since 1980, Quezon National Park and Angat Dam, it now appears to be extinct, having been common at the former in the 1980s. There are no recent records from Marinduque, where it may already be extinct. It is believed extirpated from Bataan Natural Park (where the area of old growth forest decreased by 65% between 1987/1993 and 2002), and apparently scarcer than in the early 1990s even at its remaining stronghold at Subic Bay Forest Reserve (A. Jensen in litt. 2013). It has been recorded at only seven out of 29 historic sites in the last 10 years; although possibly a function of poor coverage, it may more likely represent a genuine range contraction (Española et al. 2013). Following surveys in 2009-2010 (Española et al. 2013), the total population is estimated to include fewer than 2,500 mature individuals with no more than 250 mature individuals in each sub-population.


It is a species of the lowlands and foothills on Luzon, with records in the Sierra Madre from 300-700 m. On Marinduque it has been recorded above 1,000 m. Its increasing rarity suggests a dependence on lowland primary forest, although birds do range into scattered fruiting trees in open areas and into secondary and heavily degraded forest.


Trapping for the cage-bird trade is a significant problem. Local extinctions as a direct result of forest loss are very likely. In 1988, forest cover was just 3% on Marinduque and 24% on Luzon. Forest cover in the Sierra Madre mountains has declined by 83% since the 1930s. Most remaining areas are under logging concession and may suffer further from major road-building plans. A road development near Subic Bay has increased the incidence of illegal logging and felling is rife at Maria Aurora Memorial Natural Park. Habitat modification may have accentuated interspecific competition, with the species having been replaced by Blue-crowned Racquet-tail P. discurus in Quezon National Park. It appears that the Green Racquet-tail might now only occur in two areas of Luzon and that Subic Bay might be the only one with any protection (R. Hutchison in litt. 2013). Even here, there are potential threats to the habitat: in 2013 the Philippine military had reportedly revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay and to reopen the base to United States forces.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. National legislation exists to protect it from trade and hunting, although this is frequently violated. It is currently known from two protected areas, Bataan Natural Park/Subic Bay Forest Reserve and the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. It receives nominal protection in the Maria Aurora Memorial Natural Park.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to identify further sites supporting key populations, with a view to formally establishing them as protected areas (e.g. Mts Cagua, Cetaceo and the Mariveles Mountains). Research its ecology and year-round requirements, to improve understanding of its management needs. Examine trends in Prioniturus species at all sites to monitor the spread of the apparently invasive P. discurus. Improve protection measures against logging at Subic Bay Forest Reserve. Clamp down on illegal logging within the species's range, and ensure that environmental impact assessments are carried out before any new logging concessions are granted. Establish a captive breeding population to support future reintroduction and supplementation efforts. Lobby against proposed developments that threaten suitable habitat.


30 cm. Green parrot with racquet-like tail extensions. Bright yellow-green head and breast. Rest of plumage green, darkest on wings and tail. Whitish-grey bill. Female is more uniform green, lacking yellow tones of male. Similar spp. Montane Racquet-tail P. montanus has blue on head. Possible confusion with Tanygnathus parrots, but is smaller, longer-tailed (with racquets) and has pale, not red, bill. Voice Raucous squawks interspersed with screeches and musical phrases.


Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Martin, R, Benstead, P., Symes, A., Westrip, J., Bird, J., Derhé, M., Lowen, J.

Hutchinson, R., Jensen, A., Española, C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Prioniturus luconensis. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/green-racquet-tail-prioniturus-luconensis on 06/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 06/06/2023.