The IUCN Red List status for Yellow-headed Parrot is Endangered due to its small population (4700 mature individuals) and steep population decline (BirdLife International 2015). It has a resident distribution of about 45,400 km2 (BirdLife International 2015). It is considered Endangered under Mexican law (NOM-059 SEMARNAT 2010). This is also a species of high tri-national concern (Mexico-U.S.-Canada) to Partners in Flight (Berlanga et al. 2010), as a species at greatest risk of extinction. Based on determinations of habitat loss, Berlanga et al. (2010) estimated that at least 50% of its population has been lost in Mexico during the last century.
In the Pacific lowland regions of Mexico, of the nine studied parrot species, Marín-Togo et al. (2012) found that Yellow-headed Parrot had the smallest coverage of its current distribution in protected areas — only 392 km2 (2.1%). This included three protected areas – the Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve in Jalisco, and the Lagunas de Chacahua and Huatulco national parks in Oaxaca (Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2010).
Effects of human activity on populations
The primary cause of declines in Yellow-headed Parrot has been trapping and poaching of eggs and juveniles from nest cavities for the pet trade, as well as hunting, or shooting as pests on fruit crops (Lousada and Howell 1996; Eisermann 2003). It is one of the most sought-after Neotropical parrots for the pet trade because it is considered one of the best "talkers" (Juniper and Parr 1998). Although capture for the pet trade is now illegal in Mexico, this activity still poses a serious threat. Poachers frequently cut down trunks with nest cavities, or enlarge nest hole openings, or cut a hole at the level of the nest if well below the entrance hole (Eisermann 2003). Thus, in addition to loss of productivity, this results in a declining number of available nest cavity sites. This species also faces heightened risk because of its specialization on threatened tropical deciduous forest habitats. This threat to Yellow-headed Parrot is loss of this habitat type due to unsustainable logging, wood harvesting, and clearing for agriculture and livestock grazing; habitat degradation due to intensive cattle grazing can also be a problem (Eisermann 2003).