Psephotellus pulcherrimus Gould, 1845:115

Paradise parrot, Beautiful parakeet, Scarlet-shouldered parrot



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Now treated under the genus Psephotellus (Forshaw & Knight, 2017).


Synonym/s: Platycerus pulcherrimus Gould, 1845:115; Platycercus pulcherrimus Gould, 1845:115; Psephotus pulcherrimus dubius Mathews, 1915:128; Psephotus pulcherrimus Gould, 1845:115


Conservation Status


Last record: November 1928 (Olsen, 2007)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


Now considered lost, the species was rediscovered in 1918 after being feared extinct. Unconfirmed records of this species post-1928 have been reported, many mentioned by (Olsen, 2007). Five birds were reported in 1990 (Kiernan, 1993), regarded by (Olsen, 2007) as dubious. John Young, who located one the first post-1990 living Night parrots (Pezoporus occidentalis), claims to have collected many eggs of the Paradise parrot during the 1970's (Olsen, 2007; chapter 12). However, he has a history of making dubious claims and wasting other people's time and government resources (Ibid.).



"A few years ago I was speaking to an aviculturalist who told me that altough there are no pure PPs in captivity there are some very motley Golden-shouldereds and Hooded Parrots around in captivity, and that this has recently been recognised as a relic of captive PPs having interbred with GSs and Hoodeds earlier this century.

It is just conceiveable that if a breeder gathered a number of these bird together and bred them, selecting for the PP plumage traits, that a population of 'reassembled' PPs might be bred, and then might conceivably be reintroduced into the wild."




Queensland (& New South Wales?), Australia


Biology & Ecology

It has been suggested that Psephotus pulcherrimus may have had a symbiotic relationship with a moth of the genus Trisyntopa (Edwards et al. 2007; Olsen, 2007; Cooney, 2010). Visiting known former termite nests of P. pulcherrimus may uncover remains of this moth whose former existence is implied by analogy with the other members of the genus Psephotus who each have a symbiotic relationship with a unique moth species of the genus Trisyntopa.




Specimens in museum collections known to the author:


MCZ 74281 (adult male)

GLAHM 108080 (see [url=]here[/url])

[url=]RMNH 110.071[/url] (male)

[url=]RMNH 110.072[/url] (male)

[url=]RMNH 110.073[/url] (female)

[url=]RMNH 110.074[/url] (female)

[url=]RMNH 110.113[/url] (female, skeleton only)


Rejected specimens

An egg collected in 1967 (Grealy et al., 2021)



Above: illustration by Alexander Francis Lydon, engraved by Benjamin Fawcett. Published in (Greene & Dutton, 1884).



Above: illustration by Roland Green, published in (Mathews, 1916-1917:pl.313).



Original Scientific Description:

Gould, John. (1845). On a New Species of Platycerus. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 15: 114-115. [p. 114 according to (Gould, 1848)]


Other references:

Anmarkrud, Jarl Andreas and Lifjeld, Jan T. (2017). Complete mitochondrial genomes of eleven extinct or possibly extinct bird species. Molecular Ecology Resources 17(2): 334-341. [Abstract]

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

Anonymous. (1964). List of rare birds, including those thought to be so but of which detailed information is still lacking. IUCN Bulletin 10(Special Supplement): 4 pp.

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. A. (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.

Barnes, C. and Zillman, E. (2007). The Lost World of the Paradise Parrot: an eye-witness account of a Paradise Parrot. Wingspan 17(1): 45.

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Campbell, Archibald J. (1900). Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Sheffield, Private. [relevant reference?]

Campbell, Archibald J. (1901). Nests and eggs of Australian birds, including the geographical distribution of the species and popular observations thereon. Part 2. Sheffield: privately published. [pp. 645-646, pl. ?]

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Chisholm, Alexander (Alec) H. (1922b). The "lost" Paradise Parrot. Emu 22(1): 4-17.

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Cooney, S. J. N. (2010). ANU-Digital Collections: Ecological Associations of the Hooded Parrot (Psephotus dissimilis). Ph.D thesis submitted April, 2009.

Crew, G. and Wilson, M. (2003). I Said Nothing: The Extinction of the Paradise Parrot. South Melbourne: Lothian. [a children's book]

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del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

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Fisher, Clem T. (1985). From John Gilbert to John Gould. Australian Zoologist 22(1): 5-14.

Fisher, C. T. (1986). A type specimen of the Paradise Parrot Psephotus pulcherrimus (Gould, 1845) in the Merseyside County Museums, Liverpool, England. Australian Zoologist 22(3): 10-12.

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NB: A much more extensive bibliography than that given here can be found in (Olsen, 2007:235-254).