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Discover the Fascinating World of the Buff-Faced Pygmy-Parrot: Its Habits Behaviors and Threats

The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot, scientifically known as Micropsitta pusio, is a fascinating bird species found in the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea. These tiny birds are a delight to watch, and their bright plumage and amusing behavior are sure to make anyone’s day.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot, its identification, plumages, molts, and similar species.


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is a small bird, measuring approximately 9 cm in length and weighing around 11 grams. Despite its small size, it has a striking appearance, with bright green plumage on its upperparts and buff-colored feathers on its face and belly.

The male Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot has an orange-red forehead, while the female has a more muted color. Both genders have a black bill, dark eyes, and short, rounded wings.



In the field, identifying the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot can be challenging due to its small size and elusive behavior. However, its bright plumage and distinct facial markings make it stand out from other bird species in its range.

Similar Species

The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is closely related to the Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot (Micropsitta bruijnii), which is found in the same region as the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot. The two species share a similar size and shape, but the Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot has a more vivid red breast and a bluish-green lower back.


Like most parrot species, the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot undergoes several plumages changes throughout its life. Juvenile Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrots have a duller green plumage and lack the buff coloration on their face and belly.

As they mature, their feathers become more vibrant and brighter in color.


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot molts its feathers once or twice a year, depending on its age and health. Molting is a critical process for birds as it allows them to replace their old, damaged feathers with new ones, ensuring they have a healthy and functional plumage.


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is a remarkable bird species with a colorful appearance and unique behavior. Its small size and elusive nature make it a challenging species to spot in the wild, but the rewards of witnessing one in its natural habitat are priceless.

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot and its characteristics, making it easier for you to identify and appreciate this fascinating species during your next birding adventure.

Systematics History

The scientific classification of the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot has evolved over time, reflecting new information and advancements in taxonomy. Initially, the species was classified as a member of the Parrot family (Psittacidae), but with the discovery of molecular evidence, it was reclassified as part of the Micropsitta genus of Pygmy-Parrots.

Geographic Variation

The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is distributed across a relatively small portion of New Guinea, which spans across the island’s eastern half. Due to this limited range, the species does not exhibit much geographic variation within its populations.

However, small differences in plumage and size have been observed between individuals found in the northern and southern parts of their range.


Currently, the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is recognized as a single species with no subspecies. However, previous studies have suggested that there may be up to two subspecies.

The northern populations are slightly larger and have a greener plumage, while individuals found in the south are smaller and have a more yellowish-green coloration. Despite these differences, there are currently no formally recognized subspecies for the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot.

Related Species

The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot belongs to the Micropsitta genus, which includes ten other species of Pygmy-Parrots found in New Guinea and nearby islands. This genus is characterized by its small size, bright plumage, and specialized bill adapted for feeding on nectar and soft fruits.

The Micropsitta genus is part of the Psittacidae family, which includes other parrot species found around the world.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The range of the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot has remained relatively stable over the past few decades, thanks to its habitat’s remote and difficult-to-reach location. However, historical changes in the species’ distribution have been observed due to various factors.

During the Pleistocene ice age, widespread glaciation caused sea levels to drop, connecting New Guinea with neighboring landmasses. As a result, avian communities in the region underwent significant changes, including the mixing of previously isolated populations.

This mixing resulted in the establishment of new subspecies and species and the extinction of others. More recently, climate change and habitat destruction have threatened the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot’s distribution.

Its forest habitat has been subject to extensive logging, conversion to agriculture, and mining activities. These activities have fragmented and destroyed the species’ habitat, reducing its range and leaving it vulnerable to further population declines.

Conservation Efforts

Despite the threats facing the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot, there are currently no dedicated conservation programs addressing its conservation status. Given its limited range and the continued deforestation and fragmentation of its habitat, it is essential to implement measures to protect and conserve the species.

Some of the proposed conservation efforts for the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot include the extension of protected areas, the implementation of sustainable logging practices, and the establishment of community-based conservation initiatives.


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is a remarkable species of Pygmy-Parrot found in the remote rainforests of New Guinea. Its restricted range and habitat requirements make it vulnerable to various threats, including deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and climate change.

The history of its distribution highlights the significant changes avian communities have undergone over time due to factors such as glaciation and habitat destruction. To ensure the survival of the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot and other bird species in the region, efforts must be made to protect and conserve their habitats.


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is a species primarily found inhabiting the dense forests of the lowlands and foothills of New Guinea. The species is frequently observed in primary forests, as well as secondary forests and other forested habitats, including gardens, parks, and plantations.

The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is not usually found in open savannahs, grasslands, or heavily degraded forest habitats.

They depend heavily on nectar and pollen supplies, which are abundant in the forests where they live.

Movements and Migration

Limited information is available on the movement and migratory patterns of the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot due to the species’ elusive and difficult-to-access habitats. Like many Pygmy-Parrot species, the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is thought to be primarily sedentary.

However, some studies have suggested that the species may undertake limited movements to take advantage of seasonal fluctuations in food resources.


Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrots typically breed in tree cavities, laying 1-2 eggs per clutch. They have a relatively long breeding season compared to other bird species.

In Papua New Guinea, breeding season spanned from October to February, and in parts of Indonesia, it lasted from September to April.


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot primarily feeds on nectar, pollen, and soft fruits, using its specialized bill to extract nectar from flowers. They are particularly important pollinators and help perpetuate the rainforest ecosystem.

They are known to be one of the few nectar-feeding species in New Guinea that are heavy pollinators of the plant species, Castanopsis acuminatissima.

Threats to the Buff-Faced Pygmy Parrot and its


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is facing numerous threats to its habitat and its population in the wild.

Habitat loss and fragmentation, primarily driven by commercial logging, agriculture, and mining activities, are the primary threats to the species’ survival. Selective logging of primary forests, which is prevalent throughout the species’ range, poses a severe threat to its survival as it affects the availability of nesting sites of the species.

In addition, the species also faces threats from hunting and collection for the pet trade. The species’ small size, bright colors, and unique behavior make them a popular choice for bird traders and collectors.

The species’ secretive behavior and cryptic coloration make it a challenge for hunters to locate and hunt in the wild, but it remains a threat

Conservation Efforts

Despite facing these threats, the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot has received little conservation attention. The species is not classified as endangered or threatened, and there are currently no conservation measures in place for its protection.

Greater attention and resources need to be directed towards conserving the species and its habitat. Protecting its habitat, specifically primary forests and other forested areas within its range, is paramount to its long-term survival.

Apart from the protection of habitat, research efforts need to be increased to gain more insights into the species’ ecology and behavior, particularly migratory movements, breeding, and habitat use.

In a few remaining areas where the population of this bird is stable, the governments of both Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have introduced laws and policies for the conservation of their remaining habitats.

The development and implementation of community-based conservation initiatives can empower local communities and create long-term support for conservation efforts. These efforts include activities to raise the awareness of the species’ importance in the ecosystem and its benefit to communities living within its range; encouraging the development of alternative livelihoods that can thrive without destroying their habitats, including eco-tourism and sustainable agriculture.

Diet and Foraging


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot’s bill is specialized for feeding on nectar, pollen, and soft fruits. They are capable of holding themselves upside down to reach flowers, along with hovering while they feed.

They use their beak to extract nectar from flowers, and sometimes they may use their tongues to assist in the feeding process.


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot has a very specialized diet. Their primary source of food is nectar, which they extract from a range of flowers in their habitat.

The flowers they feed on include those of the genus Eucalyptus, Acacia, and Melaleuca, among others. In addition to nectar, they also feed on pollen, which is particularly important for protein and other essential nutrients.

Soft fruits and insects also form part of their diet, though they are not as essential to their survival as nectar and pollen.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Their diet of nectar and soft fruit presents the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrots with a unique challenge. They are primarily nectarivorous birds, having a diet low in protein and high in sugar.

Their metabolism and temperature regulation have developed to deal with this extreme nectar diet. To ensure the energy and nutrients they need to survive, they have highly efficient digestive systems, with a shorter gut compared to other food chains.

They also have a slow metabolic rate to conserve energy, which helps with their thermoregulation.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrots exhibit distinctive vocalizations that reflect their social and reproductive behaviors. They are vocal birds, often heard calling and singing from their perches in the treetops.

Their songs are described as high-pitched and melodious, with short and sharp notes repeated in quick successions. These vocalizations are quite distinctive and can be used to identify the species in the wild.

While their vocal repertoire is not as varied as some of their parrot cousins, it is still essential for their communication and plays a critical role in their social behavior.


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is one of the most remarkable Pygmy-Parrot species inhabiting the dense forests of New Guinea. Their specialized diets and unique metabolic and temperature regulating systems have evolved to overcome their dietary challenges.

Their distinctive vocalizations are also an important part of the species’ social behavior. Efforts must be taken to ensure the conservation of the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot and its habitat to promote the long-term survival of the species.



The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is a small agile bird capable of swift movements in the dense vegetation of its habitat. They’re very skilled at maneuvering through the forest canopy and can cling upside down from branches and twigs to forage.

They have short rounded wings that are adapted for rapid and controlled movement in the forest, perfect for avoiding predators.

Self Maintenance

Like other bird species, the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrots are vigilant of their cleanliness and hygiene. Feather preening is a common activity for the species, and it helps birds to remove dirt and parasites from their feathers.

They are also known to ‘dust bathe’ in dry soil to condition and clean their feathers.

Agonistic Behavior

During the breeding season, male Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrots engage in territorial displays to ward off other males from their territory. These displays can involve the male spreading its feathers and vocalizing vigorously while striking its perch to attract females and signal its dominance over other males.

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season, Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrots form monogamous pairs, and the mating system is pure-pair with social monogamy. In this system, males and females only form one breeding pair at a time, but they may change pairs between breeding seasons.

The pair constructs a nest in a tree cavity, and both partners take part in incubating the eggs and raising the young.


Breeding Behavior

The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot breeds once a year and nest in tree cavities, lining them with debris such as leaves and bark, This specialized nesting strategy ensures the safety of their young. After the female lays her 1-2 eggs, both parents take turns incubating the eggs for around 18 days.

The young chicks are fed regurgitated nectar and pollen by both parents.

Demography and Populations

The population size of Buff-faced Pygmy Parrots is relatively unknown due to their small size, elusive nature, and dense forest habitat. They are not considered a globally threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

However, widespread deforestation and habitat degradation pose significant threats to their populations, leading to population declines over time. The species is vulnerable to habitat fragmentation and loss caused by the clearing of forests for agriculture, mining, logging, and other purposes.

In addition, they are hunted for food in some areas of their range and traded as pets.

Conservation Efforts

Given the threats facing the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot, there is an urgent need for conservation measures to prevent the species’ decline. Protection of forest habitats within the range of the species is imperative, along with measures to reduce habitat degradation and deforestation.

Various campaigns and initiatives have highlighted the importance of the species in the ecosystem and raised public awareness of their conservation needs. There are also other measures that can be implemented to reduce the impact of hunting and trading, such as awareness campaigns and stricter law enforcement.

Sustainable development models that encourage eco-tourism and other economic activities that don’t damage the habitats are essential to the species’ conservation.


The Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is a remarkable species of Pygmy Parrot, with a unique set of behaviors and a fascinating ecology. The species’ specialized diet, vocalizations, and behaviors provide insights into some of the challenges it faces in the wild.

The conservation of the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is a collective effort that requires the participation of various stakeholders, including local communities, non-governmental organizations, and governments. Comprehensive and concerted conservation actions must be implemented to protect the species and its habitat for generations to come.

In conclusion, the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is a remarkable bird species found in the tropical rainforests of New Guinea. Their distinctive characteristics, such as their small size, bright plumage, unique diet, and vocalizations, have captivated the attention of people globally.

However, the species is facing significant threats to its population due to habitat loss, hunting, trading, and other factors. Therefore, efforts must be made to conserve the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot and its habitat, to protect the bird for future generations.

By doing so, we can ensure the survival of this species and its incredible ecological role as pollinators and contributors to the rainforest ecosystem. The survival of the Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot is a shared responsibility, and it’s essential that we act urgently to protect it.

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