Pygmy parrots are the smallest members of the parrot order. There are six species of pygmy parrot; all in the genus Micropsitta, which is the only genus in the Micropsittini tribe.

Pygmy parrots are native to the forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. Pygmy parrots are tiny birds: fast-moving, mostly green with bright highlights. A pygmy parrot spends a good deal of time climbing through foliage, using its large feet and beak, and stiffened tail feathers. At a little over 8 cm (3.5 in) long, the Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot is the smallest parrot species.

Pygmy parrots are also among the few species in the order (other examples include Pyrilia and Nannopsittaca species) that have never been successfully kept, let alone bred, in captivity. All attempts to do so have resulted in the quick deaths of the little birds. Stress and dietary deficiencies are probably to blame.[1] Pygmy parrots are among the few birds that feed on fungus and lichen, which play a major role in their diet.[2]


Pygmy parrots are the smallest parrots and range is size from about 8 cm (3.5 in) to 10 cm (4 in). They have long toes and long curved claws. The shafts of their tail feathers are stiff and form projections at the end of the tail. The cere is prominent. The external appearance of the adult males and adult females differ to varying extents in different species. Juveniles are duller.[3]


The genus was defined by French naturalist René-Primevère Lesson in 1831. The name Micropsitta is derived from the Greek mikros meaning small and psitta for parrot.[4]

The pygmy parrots consist of six species and several subspecies:[5]

Genus: Micropsitta Lesson 1831 (pygmy parrots)

  • Micropsitta keiensis (Salvadori 1876), Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot
    • Micropsitta keiensis chloroxantha Oberholser 1917
    • Micropsitta keiensis keiensis (Salvadori 1876)
    • Micropsitta keiensis viridipectus (Rothschild 1911)
  • Micropsitta geelvinkiana (Schlegel 1871), Geelvink Pygmy Parrot
    • Micropsitta geelvinkiana geelvinkiana (Schlegel 1871)
    • Micropsitta geelvinkiana misoriensis (Salvadori 1876)
  • Micropsitta pusio (Sclater, PL 1866), Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot
    • Micropsitta pusio beccarii (Salvadori 1876)
    • Micropsitta pusio harterti Mayr 1940
    • Micropsitta pusio pusio (Sclater, PL 1866)
    • Micropsitta pusio stresemanni Hartert 1926
  • Micropsitta meeki Rothschild & Hartert 1914, Meek's Pygmy Parrot
    • Micropsitta meeki meeki Rothschild & Hartert 1914
    • Micropsitta meeki proxima Rothschild & Hartert 1924
  • Micropsitta finschii (Ramsay, EP 1881), Finsch's Pygmy Parrot
    • Micropsitta finschii aolae (Ogilvie-Grant 1888)
    • Micropsitta finschii finschii (Ramsay, EP 1881)
    • Micropsitta finschii nanina (Tristram 1891)
    • Micropsitta finschii tristrami (Rothschild & Hartert 1902)
    • Micropsitta finschii viridifrons (Rothschild & Hartert 1899)
  • Micropsitta bruijnii (Salvadori 1875), Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot
    • Micropsitta bruijnii bruijnii (Salvadori 1875)
    • Micropsitta bruijnii buruensis Arndt 1999
    • Micropsitta bruijnii necopinata Hartert 1925
    • Micropsitta bruijnii pileata Mayr 1940
    • Micropsitta bruijnii rosea Mayr 1940


  1. ^ Arndt, T. (1997). Lexicon of Parrots. Arndt Verlag. ISBN 3-9805291-1-8
  2. ^ Juniper, T., & M. Parr (1998). A Guide to the Parrots of the World. Pica Press, East Sussex. ISBN 1-873403-40-2
  3. ^ Forshaw, Joseph M. (2006). Parrots of the World; an Identification Guide. Illustrated by Frank Knight. Princeton University Press. plates 24–25. ISBN 0-691-09251-6. 
  4. ^ Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott (1980). A Greek-English Lexicon (Abridged Edition). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-910207-4. 
  5. ^ "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Psittaciformes (Version 9.024)". 2009-05-30. 

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