Nicobar Parakeet Psittacula caniceps


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a moderately small population occupying a very small range, in which it is under pressure from habitat modification and trapping; however, its habitat and population are not yet considered to be severely fragmented or restricted to a few locations, hence it is listed as Near Threatened. The tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 may have caused a significant decline in the population. Should this be supported by empirical evidence, the species may qualify for uplisting in the future.

Population justification
The species remains relatively common in some areas, but the global population is thought to be moderately small. It is estimated to number 10,000-19,999 individuals. This roughly equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline due to trapping for the cagebird trade and loss and degradation of its habitat, but the trend has not been directly estimated. Tracewski et al. (2016) measured the forest loss within the species’s range between 2000 and 2012 as c. 35 km2. Assuming that forest loss continues at the same rate to the present day, this roughly equates to a rate of forest loss of 7.8% over the last three generations (22.5 years). The species tolerates a certain level of habitat modification, so that the conversion of forests might affect the species less severely than feared.

Distribution and population

Psittacula caniceps is endemic to the Nicobar archipelago, India. It is recorded on the islands of Great Nicobar, Little Nicobar, Menchal and Kondul (BirdLife International 2001, A. P. Zaibin in litt. 2012). It apparently remains common (as indicated by surveys in 2009-2011; A. P. Zaibin in litt. 2012), although the effect of the large tsunami in the area in 2004 is unknown.


The species inhabits tall forest, where it feeds in small groups in the canopy on the fruit of Pandanus palms. It is apparently most common in coastal forests, but also occurs further inland and in plantations of areca nut and coconut (K. Sivakumar in litt. 2007, A. P. Zaibin in litt. 2012). This suggests that the species is able to tolerate substantial habitat modifications. It occurs from sea level to elevations of up to 190 m (A. P. Zaibin in litt. 2012).


The species is trapped for the cage-bird trade in moderately large numbers. A further cause of population decline is the destruction of forests, particularly in the aftermath of the tsunami in 2004, which destroyed large tracts of coastal forests; however, data remains sparse and the rate of regeneration of these forests in unknown (K. Sivakumar in litt. 2007). Furthermore, increased settlement of the islands exerts a pressure on natural resources, and planned development projects could severely affect the habitat of this species. For now however, large tracts of forests remain on the islands (Global Forest Watch 2014).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

CITES Appendix II.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Determine the impact of trade on the species. Calculate rates of forest loss. Protect remaining areas of habitat. Assess the impact of the 2004 tsunami.


Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Calvert, R., Benstead, P., Hermes, C., Bird, J.

Sivakumar, K. & Zaibin, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Psittacula caniceps. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/10/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/10/2022.