Red-throated lorikeet (Charmosyna amabilis)

Red-throated lorikeet (Charmosyna amabilis)

The Red-throated lorikeet (Charmosyna amabilis) is a small and delicate lorikeet that measures up to 18cm from beak-tip to tail-tip.

Also known as: Red-throated Lorikeet

Local Names: Kulawai

Description

The Red-throated lorikeet is a small and delicate lorikeet that measures up to 18cm from beak-tip to tail-tip. It is entirely green in colour but for its red cheeks, throat and thighs.

The red throat is bordered with yellow whilst the undertail and tail tips are a mustard yellow. The sexes are similar and both have an orange bill and legs. Immature birds have purplish thighs and are duller than adults.

Distribution

Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Ovalau. Habitat Ecology and Behaviour
The Red-throated Lorikeet is found in mature forest with an exceptional observation in mangroves on Ovalau. It is a nectar and probably pollen feeder. No breeding observations have ever been recorded for this bird.

It is a very rare bird, which when encountered is usually found in small flocks feeding high in the canopy of trees. The Red-throated lorikeet gives way to both Collared Lories and Wattled Honeyeaters at feeding sites. All recent observations on Viti Levu have been in highland areas around Mt Tomanivi,. There have been no recent observations on other islands but did include some at lower elevations. The flight of the Red-throated lorikeet is direct with rapid wingbeats which produce a fluttering quality to their flight. Their call is a brief high-pitched monosyllabic squeak given whilst feeding and in flight, with the latter louder and more resonant.

 Kulawai, Red-throated Lorikeet (Photo by Bill Beckon, 1973)

Kulawai, Red-throated Lorikeet (Photo by Bill Beckon, 1973)

 Red-throated lorikeet (Charmosyna amabilis) map

Red-throated lorikeet (Charmosyna amabilis) map

Threats

The Ship Rat (Rattus rattus) which is now the commonest rat in our forests is known to be a serious predator of nesting Pacific lories and lorikeets and may be responsible for the rarity and continuing decline of the Red-throated lorikeet.

Conservation Status

The last confirmed sighting was in 1993. Recent intensive surveys for the Red-throated Lorikeet have failed to find it. An intensive three months survey, in 2002, specifically for this lorikeet on both Viti Levu and Taveuni failed to find it. Over 30 BirdLife International forest surveys between the years 2003 – 2006 and a two weeks intensive Lorikeet survey in January 2008 have all failed to find this critically endangered bird. This is likely to be our most endangered bird. It may well be extinct, but for the time being the IUCN Red List category of this species has been moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered.

Remarks and Cultural Significance

The last confirmed sighting was in 1993. Recent intensive surveys for the Red-throated Lorikeet have failed to find it. An intensive three months survey, in 2002, specifically for this lorikeet on both Viti Levu and Taveuni failed to find it. Over 30 BirdLife International forest surveys between the years 2003 – 2006 and a two weeks intensive Lorikeet survey in January 2008 have all failed to find this critically endangered bird. This is likely to be our most endangered bird. It may well be extinct, but for the time being the IUCN Red List category of this species has been moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered.

References

Masibalavu & Duston (2006);
Masibalavu & Mucklow (2008);
Watling (2004);
Swinnerton & Maljkovic (2002)

Front Page Photo: W. Beckon