Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Beak and Feather Disease Affecting Endangered Psittacine Species (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005q) [Threat Abatement Plan].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
List of Migratory Species - Amendment to the list of migratory species under section 209 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (26/11/2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013af) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
QLD:Paradise parrot (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), 2013au) [Database].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): August 2014 list)
QLD: Listed as Extinct in the Wild (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Extinct (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
NGO: Listed as Extinct (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Psephotus pulcherrimus [723]
Family Psittacidae:Psittaciformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Gould, 1845)
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Psephotus pulcherrimus

Common name: Paradise Parrot

The Paradise Parrot Psephotus pulcherrimus is a conventionally accepted species (Christidis & Boles 1994; Forshaw & Cooper 2002; Higgins 1999). The species is most closely-related to the Golden-shouldered Parrot Psephotus chrysopterygius with which it may be conspecific (belonging to the same species; further work is required to test this).

The extinct Paradise Parrot was a small (length 27-30 cm) parrot with red scapulars and a long tail. The male had a bright red forehead and a black crown; a yellowish eye-ring; and emerald-green ear-coverts and throat. The black nape merged into dark brown on the hindneck, and then into paler, earthy brown on the mantle and back. The scapulars were bright red; the rump was turquoise; and the uppertail was bronze-green and blue, merging into bluish-black. The underbody comprised an emerald-green breast and upper abdomen, merging into turquoise on the sides of the neck and on the lower abdomen; the belly, vent and flanks were bright red; and the undertail was bluish-white. The upperwing was earthy brown, concolorous with the mantle and back; and the underwing was deep blue. The female was less colourful, differing from the male by having a yellowish forehead and face; duller blackish-brown crown; buff-yellow throat and breast with brownish-orange suffusion; pale blue belly, vent and undertail coverts with red on the fringes of some feathers. In both sexes the bill was greyish; the eyes brown; and the legs and feet were greyish-brown. Juveniles resembled females (Forshaw & Cooper 2002).

They were usually recorded in pairs or small flocks, probably family groups, of up to seven or eight (Barnard 1917; Chisholm 1922a, 1924).

The Paradise Parrot is now extinct. It formerly occurred in central and southern Queensland, north near Brisbane to sites near Duaringa and on the Comet and Nogoa Rivers, and west to St George (Barnard 1917; Barnard 1925; Chisholm 1922a, 1924; Edwards 1922). Unconfirmed reports from north-eastern NSW (Irby 1927a, b) and northern Queensland (Chisholm 1922a, 1945) have been investigated and are currently thought to be incorrect (Olsen 2007a).

Though many Paradise Parrots were taken into captivity in the 19th century (Chisholm 1922a; Forshaw & Cooper 2002; Lendon 1973), there are no current captive populations of this species and none have been reintroduced into the wild. There was a proposal to begin captive breeding of the species for release in the 1920s, but action occurred too late to save the species (Anon. 1927). Hybrid Golden-shouldered Parrot Psephotus chrysopterygius (Mulga Parrot P. varius, which occur only in captivity) are said to appear similar to Paradise Parrots (Carter 1992; Forshaw & Cooper 2002), but should not be mistaken for them (Higgins 1999).

A campaign for new information on the Paradise Parrot was launched in 1918, although the species was thought to have become extinct in the first decade of the 20th century. This survey campaign resulted in a number of confirmed Paradise Parrot records between 1918 and 1927 (Forshaw & Cooper 2002). However, a similar campaign in the 1960s elicited no confirmed records (Forshaw & Cooper 2002). Surveys have been mounted after an unconfirmed report of the species (Carter 1992) but none has been successful in confirming the continued existence of the Paradise Parrot (Forshaw & Cooper 2002).

The species was formerly locally common in some areas of its range (Barnard 1917; Barnard 1925; Campbell 1915; Chisholm 1922a; Edwards 1922) and rather uncommon in others (Barnard 1925), but overall the species was considered not to have been common (Forshaw & Cooper 2002).

Though there were reports of the species in northern Queensland, well away from the core range of the species (Chisholm 1922a), these are not considered accurate (Olsen 2007a), and there were no known subpopulations of the Paradise Parrot in that area.

The population of Paradise Parrots declined rapidly in the late 1890s and early 1900s (Chisholm 1945). The last documented record of the species was in 1927 (Chisholm 1936), although some birds probably persisted until the 1930s (Olsen 2007a).

There is no information about the generation length of the Paradise Parrot. The generation length of the closely-related Golden-shouldered Parrot Psephotes chrysopterygius and the Hooded Parrot P. dissimilis has been estimated at two years (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

No cross-breeding with other species was recorded in the wild. In captivity however, they cross-bred with Red-rumped (Psephotus haematonotus) and Mulga (P. varius) Parrots (Forshaw & Cooper 2002). No genetically pure Paradise Parrots currently exist in captivity.

There are few national parks in the former range of the extinct Paradise Parrot, and these were all proclaimed after the extinction of the species.

The Paradise Parrot mainly inhabited undulating river valleys, lightly timbered with eucalypt woodlands or open forests, often dominated by ironbarks and bloodwoods, with an understorey of annual and perennial native grasses; these areas were often dotted with termitaria (termite mounds) (Chisholm 1922a; Forshaw & Cooper 2002; Higgins 1999; Kiernan 1993).

Nothing is known of the sexual maturity or life expectancy of this extinct species. However, Garnett and Crowley (2000) estimate the generation length to be two years. The generation length is the average age of parents of the current cohort, and therefore reflects the turnover rate of breeding individuals in a population. In taxa that breed more than once the generation length is greater than the age at first breeding and less than the age of the oldest breeding individual. The closely-related Golden-shouldered Parrot Psephotus chrysopterygius is known to breed within its first year (Higgins 1999).

It has been suggested that brooding birds and nestlings were vulnerable to predation by goannas Varanus (Chisholm 1922a) due to their habit of nesting in termite mounds.

Breeding was recorded between September and March (Campbell 1900; Chisholm 1922a); through extrapolation from related species this was expanded to August to April (Lendon 1973). Clutches of between three and five white eggs, with a pinkish tinge, were laid in a nest-chamber at the end of a tunnel excavated into a termitarium (Barnard 1925; Campbell 1900; Chisholm 1922a, 1924). Records of nesting in the bank of a creek or river (Irby 1927b) are not considered accurate (Olsen 2007a). Similarly, reports of Paradise Parrots nesting in tree-hollows or hollow stumps are unconfirmed (Irby 1927b; Lendon 1973) and unlikely (Olsen 2007a).

There is little information on the food of the Paradise Parrot other than it fed on the seeds of native grasses (Barnard 1917; Chisholm 1922a, 1924; Edwards 1922). A report that the species 'ate honey and pollen of flowers, flies, and small insects' and acorns (Chisholm 1922a) is considered to be incorrect.

Paradise Parrots fed on the ground (Chisholm 1924; Edwards 1922), which made them potentially vulnerable to predation by feral cats (Edwards 1922). When on the ground, Paradise Parrots bent grass-stems near the base, then ran it through the bill until the seed-head was reached (Chisholm 1924).

There is nothing known of the movements of the Paradise Parrot (Forshaw & Cooper 2002; Higgins 1999). Birds were often reported to remain in the same area (Chisholm 1922a, 1924). Disappearance during periods of drought was interpreted as reflecting local extinctions rather than movements (Ashby 1924; Barnard 1917; Higgins 1999).

Nothing is known about the species' home ranges or territories other than adults are thought to have remained in the same nesting locality year after year (Chisholm 1922a).

The Paradise Parrot was rather distinctive; the bright and conspicuous diagnostic combination of a black cap, red lores, red scapulars, turquoise rump and red underparts of the male made the species unmistakeable and readily distinguished from other species of parrots. The combination of the red scapulars and a blackish cap distinguished the female from other parrots (Higgins 1999; Pizzey & Knight 1997).

The species was apparently rather quiet and unobtrusive when foraging on the ground, and was most easily detected by its whistling alarm call given when someone approached (Chisholm 1922).

The extinction of the Paradise Parrot is likely to have resulted mainly from a combination of annual burning of native grass (at the critical time when the grass was in seed) and overgrazing, in combination with the effects of a severe drought, so that little seed was produced for several years (Barnard 1917; Barnard 1925; Chisholm 1922, 1945; Edwards 1922). In addition, local populations would have been under pressure from trapping for aviaries and predation by feral cats (Chisholm 1922; Edwards 1922). It has also been suggested that the Paradise Parrot was adversely affected by the widespread practice of ring-barking trees (Edwards 1922; Kiernan 1993) as well as loss of habitat due to being over-run with Prickly Pear Opuntia (Lendon 1973). The Paradise Parrot was last reliably recorded in 1927 (Chisholm 1936).

There have been no major studies conducted on this species. Higgins (1999) and Olsen (2007a) provide reviews that summarise all that is known about the species.

The key management documentation for this subspecies is The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000), which summarises the critical ecological and conservation data.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Commonwealth Listing Advice on Blue Gum High Forest of the Sydney Basin Bioregion (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2005bc) [Listing Advice].

Anon (1927). Minutes of the twenty-fifth annual congress of the R.A.O.U. Emu. 26:162-170.

Ashby, E. (1924). Notes on extinct or rare Australian birds, with suggestions as to some of the causes of their disappearance. Emu. 23:178-183.

Barnard, C. (1917). Bird life as affected by drought. Emu. 16:234-236.

Barnard, C.A. (1925). A review of the birdlife on Coomooboolaroo Station, Duaringa District, Queensland, during the past fifty years. Emu. 24:252-265.

Campbell, A.J. (1900). Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Sheffield, Private.

Campbell, A.J. (1915). Missing birds. Emu. 14:167-168.

Carter, M. (1992). In quest of paradise. Wingspan. 8:8.

Chisholm, A.H. (1922a). The 'lost' Paradise Parrot. Emu. 22:4-17.

Chisholm, A.H. (1924). Seeking rare parrots. Emu. 24:25-32.

Chisholm, A.H. (1936). Various bird problems. Emu. 35:317-323.

Chisholm, A.H. (1945). Birds of the Gilbert diary. Part 2. Emu. 44:183-200.

Christidis, L. & W.E. Boles (1994). The Taxonomy and Species of Birds of Australia and its Territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Monograph 2. Melbourne, Victoria: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.

Edwards, W.H. (1922). The "lost" Paradise Parrot. Emu. 22:154.

Forshaw, J.M. & W.T. Cooper (2002). Australian Parrots, 3rd edition. Robina, Queensland: Alexander Editions.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from:

Higgins, P.J. (ed.) (1999). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume Four - Parrots to Dollarbird. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Irby, F.M. (1927a). Travelling Paradise Parrots. Emu. 26:236.

Irby, F.M. (1927b). Further notes on rare parrots. Emu. 27:13-16.

Kiernan, C. (1993). Paradise on earth?. Wingspan. 11:24-25.

Lendon, A.H. (1973). Neville W. In: Cayley's Australian Parrots in Field and Aviary. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Olsen, P. (2007a). Glimpses of Paradise: The Quest for the Beautiful Parrakeet. National Library of Australia, Canberra.

Pizzey, G. & F. Knight (1997). The Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Psephotus pulcherrimus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:57:27 +1000.