The head of a vulture, the body of a parrot, and from beak to tail is the size of a small child. This isn’t a fantasy creature, this is the Dracula Parrot.
Also called Pesquet’s parrot or the vulturine parrot, the Dracula parrot is found only in the cloud forests in the foothills and lower mountains of New Guinea.
Some striking characteristics of this majestic bird include its brightly coloured scarlet plumage which contrasts perfectly with its dusty grey chest, back, and tail.
A full grown Dracula parrot will reach a body size of 18 inches, with measurements of nearly a meter from beak to tip of the tail.
Why is it called a Dracula parrot? A few reasons. One of them being its terrifying call. According to parrots.org, it sounds “harsh and rasping; also described as growling. Also drawn out scream given frequently in flight.” Yeah, that is not something I would want to have wake me up at 3am.
The Pesquet’s parrot is a highly specialised frugivore, feeding almost exclusively on a few species of figs. It is one of three parrots with bare (featherless) faces. It is thought it has evolved this way to avoid feathers becoming matted with the fruit pulp the parrot feeds on.
If you’ve never heard of this bird, it’s not too surprising. Their numbers are considerably low, and it looks like they are nearly endangered, according to Red List.
There are currently only between 20k to 49k mature parrots left, and their population is rapidly decreasing.
The species is under significant hunting pressure for its feathers, and its environment is being invaded by humans.
According to Red List, “Hunting for feathers has increased with population growth. Current rates of decline due to hunting are uncertain but could be relatively minor, and the species appears secure in large areas of suitable habitat in central and western mainland Papua New Guinea, much of which occurs in rugged terrain in areas with a low human population density.”
In other words, the parrots live longer, and better lives, with less people around.
There are a number of species we are only now learning about, and plenty more we haven’t even discovered yet. Let’s do our best to keep this planet and all its inhabitants safe for generations to follow.