Beautiful to behold, these parrots bear a resemblance to vultures; yet their most striking feature is their black and red feathers—colors reminiscent of the vampire count, as portrayed in Hollywood.
Due to poachers and demand for their beautiful plumage, however, these incredible birds are now vulnerable to extinction.
The Dracula parrot is also called the vulturine parrot or the Pesquet’s parrot, and they are unique even amongst their own kind, as they are the only member of Psittrichasinae subfamily of Indian Ocean island parrots, according to Australian Geographic.
Its dramatic display of black and red feathers makes Dracula parrots even more unique. They grow to up to 20 inches in length and have bristle-like feathers on their necks, somewhat akin to vultures. The main difference between males and females is that males have a red patch behind their eyes, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
These rare birds live in the rainforest-covered mountainous hills of New Guinea and tend to live in pairs but have been seen in groups of up to 14. They build their nests in hollow trees and lay up to two eggs at a time. Far from consuming blood, the Dracula parrot’s favorite food is a particular type of fig. The birds have a lifespan of about 20 years.
Sadly, the gorgeous vulturine parrot has been declared a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Redlist. It is suspected that this species, for the last 27 years, has undergone a rapid population decline over three generations due to hunting for their feathers.
Their feathers are used by the local population “for ornamentation, particularly in ceremonial headdresses, in much of the Papua New Guinea Highlands and, in some areas, for skins, which are used as bride prices,” according to the IUCN.
On the bright side, the species is not threatened by deforestation, as loggers usually avoid fig trees, thus preserving the vulturine parrot’s food of choice.
A video of this rare and gorgeous bird, posted on YouTube by parrot-loving vlogger Fritids Tur in 2018, has garnered attention from tens of thousands of viewers, with many taking to the comments section to express their amazement.
“They are absolutely GORGEOUS and deserve to live and to flourish. I read that people hunt and kill them. That is SO wrong,” one comment read.