Yellow-fronted Parakeet Cyanoramphus auriceps


Justification of Red List category
This species is thought to have become increasingly scarce for many years within mainland forests principally as a result of introduced predators. As a result, it is classified as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population has decreased in numbers in the past and the species is generally uncommon throughout its range, although it may be common on offshore islands and in some mainland forests (Elliott 2013). The population is estimated as being in the tens of thousands (Elliott 2013) but trends are unclear given large interannual variation in population size (Higgins 1999, T. Greene in litt. 2020). The species fluctuates as a result of beech-masting cycles which cause rapid predator increase (Robertson et al. 2021).

Trend justification
This species is thought to have undergone slow to moderate declines in the past as a result of forest clearance, introduced predators and hybridisation. Although extreme fluctuations in population size make it extremely difficult to determine population trends, expert opinion suggests that for many years the species has been becoming increasingly scarce within mainland forests where there is no integrated predator control (T. Greene in litt. 2022). These declines are likely to be long-term, occurring since the introduction of predators and mass forest cleareance (T. Greene in litt. 2022). Overall the population is suspected to have declined by 10–50% within three generations (Robertson et al. 2021), with a best estimate precautionarily placed at 20-29%.

Distribution and population

Cyanoramphus auriceps is found throughout much of the North, South, Stewart and Auckland Islands, New Zealand, and on several offshore islands. It is generally considered uncommon throughout its range (Heather and Robertson 2015), however, it may become abundant on offshore islands and in mainland forests during periods of heavy seed production (Elliott 2013).


It prefers mixed Nothofagus-Podocarpus forests, usually at higher altitude than C. novaezelandiae, or, where the two occur sympatrically on small islands it is found in denser unbroken forest. It is rarely found in secondary forest, and is absent from logged forests (Higgins 1999). However, a population translocated to the rapidly regenerating pasture and scrub covered pest free Mana Island has done very well and is now common (T. Greene in litt. 2020). Breeding occurs mainly in October-December. It feeds on seeds, berries, flowers, and roots. Insects taken from trees are a significant part of its diet (Greene 1998). In predator-free areas, the species will often feed on the ground.


Past declines have been attributed to deforestation, habitat modification and the introduction of mammalian predators, particularly cats, stoat Mustela erminea and rats (Heather and Robertson 1997, Higgins 1999). On offshore islands, Red-crowned Parakeet C. novaezelandiae is usually much more common (Heather and Robertson 1997) and may have completely replaced C. auriceps on Solander Island. On Auckland Island, there is an unnaturally high rate of hybridisation between the two species. Beak and Feather Disease Virus (BFDV) has been identified from birds in the Eglinton Valley, Fiordland (Massaro et al. 2012). The species is thought to fluctuate as a result of beech-masting cycles which cause rapid predator increases (Robertson et al. 2021). As beech masting is triggered by comparatively warmer summers, more variable weather as a result of climate change is likely to exacerbate these effects.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. This species occurs within a number of national parks and reserves where forest habitat is protected, but predators still pose a threat. It is benefiting from efforts to eradicate introduced predators from mainland forests and offshore islands. Successful translocations to offshore islands (Mana, Long Island and Motuara Island in Queen Charlotte Sound) have taken place and translocations to mainland sites (Maungatautari, Boundary Stream) are underway (Elliott 2013). 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Ensure that remaining primary forest is not logged. Re-vegetate islands that have historically been overgrazed. Maintain and/or increase control of invasive predators within mainland forests. Maintain biosecurity of pest free island inhabited by this species.


25 cm. Small bright green parakeet. Yellow-green body; yellow crown; red band from forehead to billl; red patches on flanks; violet-blue on wing coverts. Similar species: C. novaezelandiae has red crown and band from bill to behind eye. Hints: . Voice: Rapid high pitched chatter.


Text account compilers
Khwaja, N., Taylor, J., Stringer, C., Bird, J., Harding, M., Benstead, P., Vine, J.

Greene, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Cyanoramphus auriceps. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/yellow-fronted-parakeet-cyanoramphus-auriceps on 04/10/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 04/10/2023.