Greater vasa parrot

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Greater vasa parrot
Coracopsis vasa -Madagascar-8.jpg
In Madagascar
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Superfamily: Psittacoidea
Family: Psittrichasiidae
Subfamily: Coracopsinae
Genus: Coracopsis
Species: C. vasa
Binomial name
Coracopsis vasa
(Shaw, 1812)
Close up of head

The greater vasa parrot (Coracopsis vasa) is one of two species of vasa parrot, the other being the lesser vasa parrot C. nigra. The greater vasa parrot can be found throughout Madagascar and the Comoros. In Madagascar it is more common in portions of the Madagascar dry deciduous forests, compared with the lesser vasa parrot which is more common in the humid forests of the east coast.[1] The greater vasa parrot has a very unusual breeding biology and mating system. Females are 25% larger than males and are physically dominant. The species lives in loose polygynandrous groups wherein each female has at least 3-8 sexual partners. The males have re-evolved a phallus and copulations can last up to 90 minutes.[2] Copulations come in two varieties, short duration (1–3 seconds) and long duration (averaging 36 minutes), with the latter involving a copulatory tie[clarification needed].[3] During brooding and chick-rearing, females shed their head feathers and develop bright orange skin coloration, and also sing complex songs from perches close to the nest.[3] These serve to attract males to approach and regurgitate food, which the female accepts while off the nest.[3] The females also defend a territory around their nest from other females during this period.[3]


There are three subspecies:[4]

  • Coracopsis vasa, (Shaw) 1812
    • Coracopsis vasa comorensis, (Peters,W) 1854
    • Coracopsis vasa drouhardi, Lavauden 1929
    • Coracopsis vasa vasa, (Shaw) 1812

The bird is placed in the genus Mascarinus by some authorities.


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Coracopsis vasa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Birkhead, Tim (2012). Bird Sense. 
  3. ^ a b c d Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Burke, T.; Randrianaina, L.; Birkhead, T. R. (2007-01-22). "Unusual sex roles in a highly promiscuous parrot: the Greater Vasa Parrot Caracopsis vasa". Ibis (Wiley) 149 (2): 313–320. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2006.00632.x. 
  4. ^ "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Psittaciformes (Version 9.020)". 2009-03-01.