Palm Lorikeet Charmosyna palmarum


Justification of Red List category
This enigmatic species is rare in some locations; it is classified as Vulnerable on the basis of its small and fluctuating range in which the population is suspected to be declining overall through habitat degradation.

Population justification
Based on the small numbers recorded everywhere, and the small size of most islands with recent records (except Santo), the total population size is estimated to fall within the band 1,000-2,499 mature individuals. This equates to 1,500-3,749 individuals in total, rounded here to 1,500-4,000 individuals.

Trend justification
There are no data, however it is suspected to be declining, primarily due to deforestation.

Distribution and population

Charmosyna palmarum has a fluctuating range in the Santa Cruz islands of the Solomon Islands and in Vanuatu. In Santa Cruz, it is known from Nendo (relatively common in higher inland forests in 1990 but no definite records subsequently), the Duff Islands (where 30 were seen around one village in 1997), Tinakula (where encounter rates of 9.8 per hour in 2014 [Pierce 2014]), Vanikoro (where it recently appears to have become extinct), Tikopia (where very small numbers have recently colonised) Vanua Lava (where common around Langletak village in the east), Gaua (regular visitor to coconut blossoms at sea level and also recorded in flocks in the forest on the ridge around Lake Letas [c. 500 m above sea level]), Mere Lava (fairly common in small flocks higher up and visits lower altitudes during the day) and Ambae (flocks at higher altitudes only, in forest and at forest edge starting from Duviara village, 500 m above sea level) (G. Dutson pers. obs. 1997-8, T. Leary in litt. 2000, S. Totterman in litt. 2007, Dutson 2011). It has been recorded throughout Vanuatu (except the Torres Islands), but its current range is poorly known away from its stronghold on Espirito Santo (Diamond 1975b, Diamond and Marshall 1976, Bregulla 1992, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1997-8, Barré et al. 2011, Dutson 2011). In the 1960s, it disappeared from Efate and the southern islands, but birds were seen again on Efate and Tongoa in 1998 (Diamond 1975b, Bregulla 1992, S. Birchenough and S. M. Evans verbally 1998). It is usually seen in small flocks of 10-30 birds (Bregulla 1992, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1997-8, Barré et al. 2011, Dutson 2011) but its irregular distribution and nomadic habits make it difficult to estimate the total population.


It appears to occupy high montane altitude forest at elevations in excess of 1,000 m, but flocks regularly descend to coastal trees, especially to feed on coconut blossoms (Diamond 1975b, Diamond and Marshall 1976, Bregulla 1992, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1997-8, S. Totterman in litt. 2007, Barré et al. 2011, Dutson 2011). The one nest found was at 1,600 (Bregulla 1992).


Avian malaria, cyclones and natural cycles are suggested causes of its fluctuating range (Diamond 1975b, Diamond and Marshall 1976, Bregulla 1992). Lowland forest, especially on small islands with high human populations, is being cleared for agriculture, domestic timber demand and commercial logging, but observations suggest that this habitat type may not be regularly used by this species (S. Totterman in litt. 2007).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It is protected by law in Vanuatu and occurs in the proposed Lake Letas Reserve on Gaua. There are plans to research the Solomon Islands population and breeding ecology (J. R. van Oosten in litt. 1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey other islands in northern Vanuatu. Estimate population density in Santo mountains. Determine any habitat or altitudinal requirements. Research tolerance of logged and degraded forest. Research breeding success and population cycles on small isolated islands. Investigate the role of malaria in causing population fluctuations. Ascertain genetic isolation of subpopulations on dispersed islands. Relate distribution to that of introduced mammalian predators. Designate the proposed Lake Letas Reserve on Gaua. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.


16 cm. Bright green lorikeet. Variable, small red patch on chin, yellow tips to long tail and slightly darker upperparts. Similar spp. Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus is much larger and has dark head and red breast. Voice Very high-pitched screeching call is higher and quieter than T. haematodus but louder than parrotfinch Erythrura species. Hints Nomadic and erratically common in coconuts on small islands. On Santo, common in flowering trees on the highest mountain ridges.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., Stattersfield, A.

Evans, S., van Oosten, J., Totterman, S., Birchenough, S., Leary, T., Dutson, G.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Charmosyna palmarum. Downloaded from on 04/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/12/2023.