Horned Parakeet Eunymphicus cornutus


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable as, although recent surveys indicate that there are likely to be over 5,000 mature individuals, the total population remains small, and is restricted to a single subpopulation which is suspected to have declined owing to habitat degradation.

Population justification
Legault et al. (2013b) estimated the population to number 8,690 (7,934 - 9,445) individuals, equivalent to 5,333-6,000 mature individuals, rounded here to 5,300-6,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
It is suspected to have undergone a slow decline over the past three generations (20 years) owing to habitat degradation and perhaps also predation by invasive species.

Distribution and population

Eunymphicus cornutus is endemic to New Caledonia (to France). It appears to have declined since the 1880s when it was reported from all forested areas. Its range has been considerably reduced on Mt Panié, and is restricted to the north-western part of the Panié massif (Ekstrom et al. 2000, J. Theuerkauf in litt. 2012). Its numbers and trends were poorly known prior to 2006 (Chartendrault and Barré 2005, 2006) with only two independent population estimates of 1,000-3,000 birds (Ekstrom et al. 2000) and 720 pairs (N. Barré in litt. 1999), respectively. A recent study using distance sampling density surveys, observation records, and ecological niche modelling indicates that its distribution extends over 3, 482 km2, and estimates that their population contains 8,690 (7,934 - 9,445) birds (Legault et al. 2013b), corresponding to at least 5,000 mature individuals (V. Chartendault in litt. 2007). During surveys in 2003-2006, the species was recorded on 57 % of the massifs in the northern province, 42 % of the massifs in the southern province, and was locally common in the central part of the main dividing range (Mé Maoya Massif, Moindou-Farino area, Poindimié-Ponérihouen area) (Chartendrault and Barré 2005, 2006, Legault et al. 2011). Densities in Riviere Bleue Provincial Park have been relatively stable in recent years (Y. Létocart in litt. 1999), reaching approximately 21 (15-30) birds/km2 in 2008 (Legault et al. 2013a). It is absent from the Isle of Pines.


The Horned Parakeet is patchily distributed in rainforest, and is occasionally seen in savanna, low-stature forest, and scrub (M. Thiollay in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000, Ekstrom et al. 2002, Chartendrault and Barré 2005, 2006, Legault et al. 2011). The species generally prefers large, intact forests, particularly in valleys (Legault et al. 2011, 2012). It is typically found at intermediate altitudes (200-800m), though it has been observed at much higher elevations (Chartendrault and Barré 2005, 2006, Legault et al. 2011). It mainly feeds in the canopy, largely on seeds and nuts (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Legault et al. 2012). Nests are sometimes on the ground, including under rocks and in fallen tree-trunks (Hannecart and Létocart 1983, O. Robinet in litt. 1999, Dutson 2011), but it also nests in tree hollows (A. Legault in litt. 2016). It may migrate seasonally to foraging grounds during the austral winter from June to September (Chartendrault and Barré 2005, 2006). Birds have been seen crossing scrub between forest blocks, and it is not believed to be fragmented into distinct subpopulations (Y. Létocart in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000). Birds are usually observed in pairs, or small groups (family members in April-June), with 90% of surveyed flocks containing fewer than 4 individuals (Legault et al. 2012), but larger flocks have occasionally been recorded (Ekstrom et al. 2000, V Chartendault in litt. 2007, Legault et al. 2012). The species is seen every year in the valleys, foraging in close proximity to rural dwellings and in open areas (V. Chartendault in litt. 2007). Nest sharing has been reported in this species (Theuerkauf et al. 2009).


Populations may be declining through habitat degradation, both through logging and by introduced Rusa deer Rusa timorensis (Chartendrault and Barré 2005, 2006). Black rats occasionally prey on Horned Parakeet nests (Gula et al. 2010), but the magnitude of their impact remains to be quantified. Particularly wet (La Niña) years have been shown to reduce breeding success (J. Theuerkauf et al. in litt. 2011). There are no important local traditions that encourage the possession of pet birds ((N. Barré in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000, Chartendrault and Barré 2005, 2006), and there is little documented evidence of trapping or trade, although birds are occasionally held in captivity on the island, and the species is sought by collectors (Pain et al. 2006). Poaching is unlikely to be a major threat, as the species breeds in remote areas, and its nests are hard to find. There is occasional illegal hunting (C. Meresse in litt. 2009). The introduction of Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) also poses a threat (Julian et al. 2012, Jackson et al. 2014).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II, and fully protected by New Caledonian law. There are significant populations in Rivière Bleue, Parc des Grandes Fougères and Reserve Speciale de Faune et de Flore de la Nodela (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Legault et al. 2013 a, b). Since 2005 the Loro Parque Fundación has been supporting a long-term study on the species's ecology and threats (Theuerkauf and Rouys 2008).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey other forest blocks within its extent of occurrence and investigate dispersal between isolated forest blocks (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Ekstrom et al. 2002). Investigate the breeding biology to identify any limiting factors such as nest failures or rat predation (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Ekstrom et al. 2002). Research ecological dependence on certain tree species for nesting or feeding (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Ekstrom et al. 2002). Continue to monitor numbers in Rivière Bleue and start a monitoring programme in Nodela (Ekstrom et al. 2000, J. Ekstrom in litt. 2003)Standardise the methods used to survey parakeet populations to facilitate comparison between different areas and time periods (Legault et al. 2013a). Monitor for any evidence of trapping and trade (Y. Létocart in litt. 1999, O. Robinet in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000). Consider an Action Plan similar to that of E. uvaeensis (N. Barré in litt. 1999, Y. Létocart in litt. 1999, O. Robinet in litt. 1999, Ekstrom et al. 2000). Initiate control measures against introduced predators. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status, with particular focus on conserving relatively intact rainforests on oligotrophic soils at intermediate altitudes (200–800 m), as these areas provide important parakeet habitat, yet are especially vulnerable to mining activities (Legault et al. 2011). Conduct a thorough evaluation of the IBAs described by Spaggiari et al. (2007) for their current and future potential as reserves (Legault et al. 2013b). Screen the population for beak and feather disease (Jackson et al. 2014).


32 cm. Largely green, crested parakeet with yellower underparts and nape, bluish wings and tail, and black-and-red face mask. Two wispy, red-tipped, black crest feathers. Similar spp. New Caledonian Parakeet Cyanoramphus saisseti has no crest and different head pattern, lacking black and yellow. Voice Often located by nasal kho-khoot contact call. Also range of shrieks and chuckles. Hints Most easily seen in the Grandes Fougères Park near Farino.


Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Mahood, S., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A. & North, A.

Barré, N., Chartendrault, V., Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Létocart, Y., Meresse, C., Meriot, J., Robinet, O., Spaggiari, J., Thiollay, J., Theuerkauf, J. & Legault, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Eunymphicus cornutus. Downloaded from on 28/01/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/01/2020.