- Long-tailed Parakeet
 - Long-tailed Parakeet
 - Long-tailed Parakeet (Long-tailed)
 - Long-tailed Parakeet (Andaman)

Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda Scientific name definitions

Nigel Collar, Christopher J. Sharpe, and Peter F. D. Boesman
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated June 24, 2017

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Editor's Note: This is a shorter format account, originally published in HBW Alive. Please consider contributing your expertise to update and expand this account.


40–48 cm; 168–196 g. Upper mandible red, lower blackish red; crown and area above line from cere to eye dark green; area from mandible and chin tapering onto lower sides of neck black; rest of head and nape rose-pink, shading to pale yellowish green on mantle and upper back , pale bluish on lower back, green on uppertail-coverts; undersides greenish yellow shading slightly darker on belly; wings green with dull blue on primary-coverts and primaries; tail deep blue centrally, outer feathers green. Female replaces rose-pink on head with dull orange-red, and blue wash on ear-coverts; bill all brownish. Immature mainly green, some orange-red tinge on sides of head. Race defontainei has deeper red on head, yellowish crown; modesta crown appears brownish, as feathers dull red mixed with green, duller brownish in female; <em>tytleri</em> crown , nape, mantle and upper back yellowish green, rump and lower back green; nicobarica bright green crown with yellowish green nape. Last three races larger than first two, nicobarica largest.

Systematics History

Editor's Note: This article requires further editing work to merge existing content into the appropriate Subspecies sections. Please bear with us while this update takes place.

Forms tytleri and nicobarica differ morphologically and vocally both from each other and from all other races (1), and may represent two distinct species; this view supported by recent study, which suggested that current internal taxonomy renders this species polyphyletic (2). Five subspecies currently recognized.



Long-tailed Parakeet (Andaman) Psittacula longicauda tytleri Scientific name definitions

Andaman Is and nearby Coco Is.


Long-tailed Parakeet (Nicobar) Psittacula longicauda nicobarica Scientific name definitions

Nicobar Is.


Long-tailed Parakeet (Long-tailed) Psittacula longicauda longicauda/defontainei


Psittacula longicauda longicauda Scientific name definitions

Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore through Sumatra, Nias and Bangka to Borneo.


Psittacula longicauda defontainei Scientific name definitions

Natuna Is and Karimata (off W Borneo), Riau Archipelago and Belitung; possibly this race in Anambas Is.


Long-tailed Parakeet (Enggano) Psittacula longicauda modesta Scientific name definitions

Enggano I (off SW Sumatra).


Editor's Note: Additional distribution information for this taxon can be found in the 'Subspecies' article above. In the future we will develop a range-wide distribution article.


An extreme lowland species, ranging up to 300 m but preferring areas in coastal regions, including mangroves, swamp forest (including peatswamp forest), rain forest edge, partly cleared land, oil-palm plantations, coconut groves.


Poorly understood fluctuations in numbers occur throughout range. In some parts of range, large flocks may build up or suddenly arrive in an area, then the species may be absent for several years. Certain statements based on single season or year's observations may not be reliable. In Membakut area of Sabah, however, birds reported to congregate in large flocks, Sept–Apr. These observations are consistent with the species being nomadic and/or trap-lining around food-resources over huge communal home ranges. Although once considered on passage only, Singapore, now judged resident although birds commute across Johor Straits.

Diet and Foraging

Specific items include outer covering of betel nuts Areca catechu, papaya Carica papaya, ripe Pandanus fruit, fruits of kapor Dryobalanops, Dillenia speciosa and Sonneratia alba, flowers of Acacia and Bombax, seeds of Macaranga, Ixonanthes, Vitex pybescens, Lagerstroemia, Dipterocarpus crinitus. Can be pest in oil-palms, plucking ripe fruits to eat the soft mesocarp.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Flight call a short nasal “kyeh” repeated at intervals, but groups in flight may noisily call in unison. When perched, repertoire more varied but predominantly involves nasal screeches and squawks. Voice of race nicobarica said to be gruffer (1).


Generally Dec–May in Malaysia; Jun in Kalimantan; Oct on Sumatra; Feb–Apr in Andamans and Nicobars. Nest in hole in tree, in one case adjacent to grass swamp, in another 10 m up in peatswamp forest; on Andamans usually in Pterocarpus marsupium, 4–8 m up. Breeds colonially, with multiple pairs (one count of 16) using neighbouring holes in particular tree or group of trees; 6–20 m up, but on Sumatra once 45 m up in dead limb of Koompassia. Eggs 2–3; in captivity, incubation 24 days.

VULNERABLE. Previously considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Until recently, very common and widespread in S Kalimantan; locally common on Sumatra, where however formerly abundant, decline being linked to loss of breeding sites in primary forest; locally common in Peninsular Malaysia, where its capacity to survive is linked to its ability to forage outside rainforest and to nest communally. Occurs in very large numbers in some areas, Brunei. Common, Andamans and Nicobars. International trade was relatively slight, 1981–1985, but in the period 1986–1990 an average 2143 birds were exported annually, mostly from Malaysia. Anticipated pest status in oil-palm plantations has not been fulfilled, probably because of inability of birds to breed in such habitat. Based on measurements of global forest cover change from 2000 to 2012 (3), it is estimated to have lost almost one-third (32·4%) of its habitat within its distribution over three generations (24·6 years) (4).

Distribution of the Long-tailed Parakeet
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Long-tailed Parakeet

Recommended Citation

Collar, N., C. J. Sharpe, and P. F. D. Boesman (2020). Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.lotpar2.01