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Friday, January 2, 2015

Species Fact Profile: Thick-Billed Parrot (Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha)

Thick-Billed Parrot

Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha (Swainson, 1827)

Range: Sierra Madre Occidental (Mexico), Historically Southwest United States
Habitat: Montane Conifer Forest
Diet: Pine Nuts, Seeds
Social Grouping: Small Flocks
Reproduction: Breeding season is July-September, nest in hollow coniferous trees, 3 eggs are incubated for one month, chicks fledge at 59-65 days, but are dependent on parents for some time after hatching
Lifespan: 30 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Endangered, CITES Appendix I

  • Bright green plumage with scarlet on the forehead, thighs, and the bend on the wings; the underside of the wing is yellow
  • Body length is 38 centimeters, average weight 300 grams; the bill is very robust and thick
  • Feed by clipping pine cones from branches and shredding the outer coats to reach the seeds within; their ability to breed is tied closely to the availability of food
  • While foraging, they may travel as far as 40 kilometers per day, returning at night to communally roost on inaccessible cliff faces or in tall trees
  • Following the extinction of the Carolina parakeet, they were the only parrot species in the United States; they have since been extirpated from much of their range (including Arizona and New Mexico) due to habitat loss and capture for the illegal pet trade
  • A captive breeding and reintroduction program for the species in Arizona was unsuccessful, as the parrots had difficulty avoiding natural predators, especially goshawks

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