Maroon-fronted Parrot Rhynchopsitta terrisi

  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Janet M. Ruth, Thomas S. Schulenberg, and Chelsea Kendrick



Maroon-fronted Parrots are very social and live in large colonies; highly gregarious and noisy. Breeding birds roost in the nests; at other times of year the parrots roost communally in trees or on cliffs . One roost in the late 1970s held 1600 birds (Lawson and Lanning 1981).

A study of Maroon-fronted Parrots in Nuevo León and Coahuila, Mexico, documented parrot behavior at clay licks (Valés-Peña et al. 2008). They arrived at licks in small groups of 1-5 individuals and perched initially in nearby trees before landing, usually just below the top of low cliffs. Individuals at the lick took turns as sentry in alert pose while others fed. Maroon-fronted Parrots used the licks throughout the day except the last two hours in the afternoon, but greatest use was in the morning, with declines in the afternoon. Maximum simultaneous count was 28 individuals. Maximum daily total at a lick was 63 individuals in five groups, with a daily average of 9 parrots per lick. Individuals stayed at a lick for 1-52 minutes with an average of 18.3 minutes per group visit. The greatest distance from known colonies to nearest lick was 17.5 km.

An incident of mass drowning was recorded in which a large flock of Maroon-fronted Parrots entered an artificial concrete water tank to drink and/or bathe; they were then unable to exit the tank, resulting in the death of at least 52 birds (Macías-Caballero et al. 2001).


Using 50% kernel methods to measure Maroon-fronted Parrot home range in the northern Sierra Madre Oriental, Ortiz-Maciel et al. (2010) found that home range varied by year: 12,379 ha (n = 3) in 1999; 8633 ha (n = 7) in 2000, and 4736 ha (n = 4) in 2001. They suggested that the large home range in 1999 reflected food scarcity that year. The mean distance moved by an individual also varied by year: 23.6 ± 5.7 km/day (2 parrots; 15 days) in 1999; 13.7 ± 7.6 km (3 parrots, 6 days) in 2000; and 26.8 ± 18.2 (2 parrots; 5 days) in 2001. Maroon-fronted Parrots also showed a preference for specific habitat types within the pine forest mosaic, but these preferences vary from year to year. In 1999 they used pine-fir-Douglas fir forest most often; in 2000 they used chaparral most often; and in 2001 they used both pine forest and chaparral forest most often.

Sexual Behavior

Little information. Maroon-fronted Parrots are monogamous.

Social and interspecific behavior

Like other parrot species, Maroon-fronted Parrot is highly gregarious. Other than when breeding, they often travel in flocks, which may number in the hundreds.


Observations of direct predation on Maroon-fronted Parrot have not been reported. Common Raven (Corvus corax) has been observed entering known parrot nesting cavities, some of which fledged young and others of which did not; but predation by ravens on eggs or nestlings was not directly observed (Lawson and Lanning 1981). Parrots react to flying raptors and ravens "by taking to the air in noisy, swirling flocks"; the strongest responses are to Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), and Common Raven (Lawson and Lanning 1981).

Recommended Citation

Ruth, J. M., T. S. Schulenberg, and C. Kendrick (2015). Maroon-fronted Parrot (Rhynchopsitta terrisi), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.