Maroon-fronted Parrot Rhynchopsitta terrisi

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

Demography and Populations

Maroon-fronted Parrots reportedly reach sexual maturity "at around four years" (fide R. Valdés-Peña, BirdLife International 2014).

Seasonal movements of Maroon-fronted Parrots have made population estimation challenging. Data from the early 1970s suggested that the Maroon-fronted Parrot population stood at somewhere between 2000 and 4000 birds (Lawson and Lanning 1981). Numbers were estimated to be between 2,500-3,000 individuals in 1998 (Macias Caballero 1998). In 2005 the population was estimated at 3500 individuals based on roost counts (Valdés-Peña et al. 2008). This may be an underestimate, however, based on the assumption that the entire population was not represented in this single observation (Ortiz-Maciel et al. 2014). Similarly Ortiz-Maciel et al. (2006) states that based on counts of large aggregates of parrots in winter, and productivity data from 1996-2005, they estimate that known nesting colonies represent only about half of the breeding population with additional nesting colonies yet to be discovered. On the other hand, BirdLife International (2014) points out that due to delayed reproductive maturity (4 years), there are probably less than 2500 mature individuals. Ortiz-Maciel et al. (2014) suggests that this history means that the population of Maroon-fronted Parrot has remained relatively stable for the previous 25 years. However, BirdLife International (2014) reports unpublished data (J. Valdés-Peña) from 2007 and 2010 suggesting that the number of breeding pairs at known colonies have been declining, there has been poor breeding success, and that habitat is being destroyed.

Ortiz-Maciel et al. (2014) reported that 28 nesting colonies of various sizes have been located within Maroon-fronted Parrot breeding range. All known colonies are located within a region of 100 x 20 km in the Sierra Madre Oriental (Macías 1998).

Ortiz-Maciel et al. (2014) have analyzed nest data for 16 years (1995-2010) at 26 different colonies, and more intensive data from 14 years at the two main colonies – El Taray Sanctuary and Los Condominios. This provides the first long-term evaluation of reproductive dynamics for this species. These two main colonies are crucial in contributing to the productivity and long-term persistence of Maroon-fronted Parrot populations. Seventy-two percent of all nesting activity was recorded in these two colonies; the total number of occupied cavities was a mean of 334 ± 27 cavities per year (range 91-478). Over 14 years at the two main colonies (1997-2010) there were 511 successful nests; 261 (51%) fledged a single chick; 205 (40%) fledged two; 41 (8%) fledged three, and 4 (0.7%) fledged four. Twenty percent of occupied cavities successfully fledged chicks. Annual fluctuations in colony attendance and productivity was related to annual variation in precipitation, although affects varied depending on which colonies were included. Across all colonies precipitation amounts negatively affected nesting activity, but at the two main colonies alone, there was increased nesting activity after periods of high rainfall and declines after dry years. In addition, the presence of wildfires also influenced nesting activity; colonies and years with wildfire showed a five-fold decrease in nest cavities. In 1999 there was zero productivity of Maroon-fronted Parrots, which may have been associated with the severe drought and wildfire season in 1998. They proposed that the network of nesting colonies, large and small, provide resources that allow Maroon-fronted Parrot populations to cope with catastrophic and unpredictable events.

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.