Restoration of the Réunion Parrot by Henrik Grönvold
|Common Name||Dubois's Parrot|
|Range||Mascarene island of Réunion.|
The Réunion parrot or Dubois's parrot (Necropsittacus? borbonicus), is a hypothetical extinct species of parrot based on descriptions of birds from the Mascarene island of Réunion. Its existence has been inferred from the travel report of Dubois in 1674 who described it as having a "Body the size of a large pigeon, green; head, tail and upper part of wings the colour of fire." No remains have been found of this supposed species, and its existence seems doubtful.
The bird was scientifically described by Rothschild as Necropsittacus borbonicus, thinking it was a congener of the Rodrigues parrot. Additionally, Rothschild named a third "species" of the genus Necropsittacus, colored like Dubois' birds but with entirely green wings and supposedly from Mauritius, as Necropsittacus francicus. This seems to have been merely based on the confused or even unconsciously fraudulent (Rothschild was prone to describing extinct "species" from the slightest hint of their possible existence) reading of Dubois' report; there is no indication that such birds ever occurred on Mauritius. As Dubois unequivocally stated that the red-and-green birds were smaller than pigeons, and thus it is unlikely that these birds were closely allied with the much larger Rodrigues parrot.
It has been hypothesized that the reports refer to an escaped pet or feral birds, but no explanation brought forth this far seems very convincing, with Greenway's (1967) theory that Dubois' description was based on a pet Lorius (lory), for example, being ignorant of the fact that the distribution of green and red in this genus is exactly the other way around. Alternatively, Dubois might have seen a specimen of the Réunion parakeet - likewise not known from bones, but a much more plausible hypothetical form - with an aberrant coloration. All that can be said is that Dubois' testimony is the only "evidence" on which this supposed species was founded, and that judging from its size it was almost certainly not a Necropsittacus, if it indeed existed as a distinct species. The colored plate in Rothschild, while of the same high artistic standard as all in this work, is entirely conjectural and obviously not accurate insofar as it shows a bird with the large-headed, massive-billed shape of the Rodrigues parrot combined with the color pattern described by Dubois.
Since the birds were only mentioned by Dubois, they can be assumed to have disappeared before 1700 - that is, if they really were a distinct species.