The Dracula parrot, also called the Pesquet’s parrot or vulturine parrot, is a unique species with a goth-like appearance. Since their red and black wings appear similar to Dracula’s cape, they were named ‘Dracula parrots’. Also, these birds look somewhat identical to vultures, which leads them to acquire the name ‘vulturine parrots’.
This bird is the sole member in its subfamily Psittrichasinae and the only species in its genus. The name of its genus “Psittrichas” is derived from the Greek words psittake, meaning “parrot”, and trikkos or thrix, meaning “hair”. The specific epithet, “Fulgidus“, is a Latin word meaning “glittering”.
Length: 1.5 ft (46 cm)
Weight: 24–28 oz (680–800 g)
Body and Coloration: Dracula parrots are large birds with bald heads that appear small due to the lack of plumage. Their beak is long and curved.
They are almost entirely black, with gray scaling on their chests. Their bellies, upper tail coverts, and wing panels are a brilliant shade of red. Male parrots have a red spot behind their eyes that females do not have.
They prefer to inhabit foothills, hills, mountains, and montane rainforests. These parrots typically live at altitudes from 1968-3937 ft. However, they also reside at an elevation of 6562 ft and as low as 98 ft.
Dracula parrots are highly frugivorous, i.e., they primarily consume fruits. Their diet almost exclusively consists of certain fig species, but sometimes they consume other fruits like mangoes as well as flowers, nectar, and seeds.
They are usually seen in pairs but may gather in a flock of up to 10-20 birds.
Unlike other parrots, they do not talk. Their call is a form of harsh and rasping growl. While in flight, they may let out a drawn-out scream. Dracula parrots make a slurring sound when calling their mates.
Nests are built on tree cavities. They roost on high-up branches.
These birds move from one tree to another by hopping and jumping.
They fly by alternating their flying pattern between short glides and rapid flapping.
Though not usually migratory, they can move around seasonally according to fruit availability.
The lifespan of these parrots is up to 20-40 years in the wild.
Apparently, their baldness helps them to stay clean while consuming sticky fruits without getting the juices and pulp stuck on their heads and matting their feathers.
Mating and Reproduction
Information about the breeding habits of this species is scarce. The breeding season occurs in February lasting through April and May. Females lay about two eggs in nests built in a hollow tree. The incubation lasts for 27-31 days; the males feed the females during this period. Hatched chicks are born helpless, and both parents nurse them. After about 12 weeks, they start fledging.
Even though not much is known about their natural predators, it can be assumed that these birds might share the same predators as other parrots in their habitat, for example, birds of prey, snakes, and bats. These enemies mainly target juveniles. Their roosting place being high up, and the way they jump from tree to tree makes them easier to catch.
Pesquet’s parrots are listed as “Vulnerable” or “VU” by the IUCN.
These birds face a considerable threat from humans, as they are overhunted and captured because of their highly-priced, strikingly colored feathers. Their population is also decreasing due to habitat loss and the rarity of their preferred fig species. The total number of surviving individuals is 20,000-49,999.
The Dracula parrot is one of the three parrot species with bald faces.