The World of the Tanygnathus Parrots


The Tanygnatbus group of parrots originate from the Philippines, Sulawesi (Celebes), Borneo and other smaller islands of Indonesia. All are known for their large, heavy bills and relatively short, rounded tails. This gives them a tophea vy look. They are very beautiful with their shades of brilliant blues and greens contrasted by a large reddishorange bill. Some have greenish-yellow scalloping on the primary and median wing coverts. The feathers on the chest region are often hair-like in appearance. This feature is well known in the Eclectus Parrots. In earlier times both the Tanygnathus and Eclectus Parrots in Germany were known as "Edelpapagei" or noble parrots. This term is still being used today. Indeed, both groups are very noble in their appearance.

Species and distribution Great-billed Parrot, Tanygnathus megalorhynchos, is found on the islands of western Papua, Tanibar and Lesser Sunda, the Moluccas and offshore islands of Sulawesi (Celebes), Indonesia. Joseph M. Forshaw's Parrots of the World gives it eight subspecies.

Blue-naped Parrot, Tanygnathus lucionensis, is found in the Philippine Islands and offshore islands of Borneo and Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is given three subspecies.

Muller's Parrot, Tanygnathus sumatranus, is found in the Philippine Islands, Sulawesi and the smaller islands of the Sulu Archipelago, Talaud and Sangir, Indonesia. It is given six subspecies.

Black-Iored Parrot, Tanygnathus gramineus, is found on the Island of Buru, Indonesia. It is monospecific.

Rufous-tailed Parrot. This parrot is taken from one specimen (type), presumably from Sulawesi; regarded as an aberrant specimen of T sumatranus (Forshaw 197: 193).

Only the first three species are found in American aviculture.


The Tanygnathus parrots belong to the Subfamily Psittaculinae which also include Eclectus, the ring-necked group, king parrots, hanging parrots, blue-rumped parrots and lovebirds. They have several intriguing features and behaviors that are different from most other parrot groups. Although not identical in each group, their similarities are unique enough to be grouped together. These include:

• The females are usually dominant in behavior.

• This group strongly prefers to not touch each other (exception-lovebirds). Even though one-way or mutual preening is done, the sexes usually


maintain a rrnrumum distance from each other. Often head-plucking is a problem.

• A reddish-colored bill is very prominent in this group, often found only in the males. This red or coral coloration does not seem to fade as is seen in many museum specimens even after many of the feathers have begun to fade.

• Eye blazing is often a characteristic with this group. This is a threatening action.

• Feather coloration. If the parrot species has feathers of a different color on its back, rump or nape other than on the body, it is usually blue. This can be seen in the blue rumps of the Great-hilled and Muller's Parrots and the nape of the Blue-naped Parrot. This color difference changes to red on the rump coloration of the hanging parrots. Often the tails are tipped with yellow, red or orange, which gives them a more threatening (or in a courtship, desirable) display when spread.

• Behavior. Due to the dominance of the female, many of these parrots have quite a courtship display. The male will go through number of head and body movements to entice the female. This is often manifested by the male bowing and stretching its body, drooping or lifting its wings and swaying from side to side. Often the male will jump up and down or spin on its perch. The bright plumage and the coral...



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