Broad Billed Parrot Raven Parakeet

Lophopsittacus mauritianus

Credits: Julian Hume

Broad Billed Parrot Or Raven Parakeet

Species type: Bird
Species (Common name): Broad Billed Parrot or Raven Parakeet
Scientific name: Lophopsittacus mauritianus
Endemism: Endemic to Mauritius
Conservation status: Extinct

Description: The Broad Billed Parrot was a very large bird with very large heads and beaks. The males reached about 65 cm in height with females reaching 55 cm. The broad billed parrot may well have been nearly as heavy as the New Zealand kakapo, the heaviest living parrot species. It is not known for sure what colour they were but it is certain that they were predominantly dark. They are likely to have fed on the hard seeds of the various species of palm that were plentiful on pristine Mauritius.

Fun facts:

  1. Like the dodo the broad billed parrot was assigned to various groups by early observers. The first Dutch colonists described them as "Indische ravens" ("Indian ravens" or "Indian crows") and they were later described as hornbills and cockatoo. Hornbills tend not to colonise oceanic islands and cockatoos are only found in Australia and islands to the north as far north as the Philippines.
  2. The differences in head size between males and females in the broad billed parrot is the greatest known among any or the world’s parrot species.
  3. Many authors who described the bird after its extinction stated that it could not fly but an early account by Johann Christian Hoffman in 1673–75 states that it could fly, albeit with difficulty. The famous Dutch woodcut from 1601 shows the broad billed parrot high on a tree branch which would be an unusual position for a flightless bird.
  4. Hoffman’s account was the last known account of the species which is believed to have become extinct by the 1680s, not long after the dodo. The usual suspects of introduced predators are the likely cause. The effects of predation were probably exacerbated by reduced food availability caused by the large-scale harvesting of palms.