BIRD OF THE WEEK: March 17, 2017 SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pyrrhura griseipectus
POPULATION: Approx. 250 individuals
IUCN STATUS: Critically Endangered
TREND: Decreasing
HABITAT: Moist mountain forest in NE Brazil

Grey-breasted Parakeet map, NatureServeThe Grey-breasted Parakeet has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most endangered of its kind in the Americas, along with Santa Marta Parakeet and El Oro Parakeet. It is found only in northeastern Brazil, restricted to high-elevation mountaintop forests in a region otherwise dominated by arid caatinga habitat.

Habitat loss is the biggest threat to this species. Trapping for the cage bird trade, which threatens other Brazilian endemics such as the Banded Cotinga, is another factor in its decline.     

This parakeet is known historically from 15 locations, but can now only be found in a few areas in Brazil's Ceará state. Until recently, it was considered a subspecies of the White-eared Parakeet.


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Sky Island Parakeet

Grey-breasted Parakeets occur in humid mountain forests in the otherwise semi-arid northeast Brazil. These wet “sky islands,” known locally as “brejos,” are restricted to upland granite or sandstone areas, which receive up to four times the annual rainfall of lower altitudes.

Like many other parrots, including Red-masked Parakeet and Great Green Macaw, Grey-breasted Parakeets feed on fruit and seeds in the tree canopy.

Family Ties

This parakeet is a social species that lives in family groups of four to 15 individuals. It breeds once a year, from February until June. Females lay an average of six eggs in a tree cavity; since the parakeets can't excavate their own nest holes, they usually use old cavities created by woodpeckers but will also use man-made nest boxes. Both male and female feed the nestlings, sometimes assisted by other members of their family group.

Stopping Grey-breasted Parakeet's Slide
Grey-breasted Parakeet chick, Ileyne Lopes

Grey-breasted Parakeet chick by Ileyne Lopes

The Grey-breasted Parakeet is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It has also been identified as an Alliance for Zero Extinction species due to this status and the bird's limited range. Barely 13 percent of the parakeet's original habitat remains, and most of the population hangs on in just one isolated area.

ABC and partner Aquasis are working in the Baturité Mountains, the species' last wild stronghold, to prevent its extinction. Aquasis has been working directly with landowners to prevent poaching and install nest boxes to provide the parakeets with nesting sites.

In the last five years, the nest box program has been successful, adding hundreds of birds to the Grey-breasted Parakeet population. ABC and Aquasis are working to double the size of this successful program over the next two to three years. In addition, the partners plan to relocate 20 to 35 Grey-breasted Parakeets to an area 20 miles away to establish a second population within a protected habitat.

You can help ensure a future for the rare Grey-breasted Parakeet. Learn more and act now.


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