Plight of the Sierra Madre Mexican Thick Billed Parrot. Well if there's one thing that's a plight of this bird it's the name. If this were a url it could definitely use one of those url shorteners. Wow try saying this one's name five times real fast.

High-elevation cone forests of Mexico, South AZ may not be the usual home for the majority of parrots but this brilliant species adapted rather well to these northern-type forests. Truth is, with the extinct Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis), Thick-billed Parrot is one of the only two parrot species whose past range includes the US. This species been considered endangered since the late 1970's due to habitat loss and severe population reductions.

The high mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental in West MX are presently home to this parrot. It formerly ranged as far north as southern Arizona where it most likely bred til early 1900's. The species was extirpated from the U.S. circa 1920 through hunting Thick- billed Parrots now breed in the mountains approximately 80km south of the Mexico/Arizona border and south to Durango, Mexico.

These high-elevation parrots being pine specialists, are quite dependent on large areas of pine, spruce, fir for food and nesting. They eat pine cones, acorns and other seeds. A watchout is usually posted to scan the skies for raptors while the flock is feeding. Breeding occurs in mid-summer to mid-fall, when food is readily found. One brood of three eggs is laid in a cavity nest in a large conifer. Nearly all recent nests found above 2400m. While this species can persist in partly-logged areas so long as there's enough large nest trees, it's more abundant in large old-growth forests. Flocks roost on cliffs.

While shooting was likely the cause of their decline in the U.S. close to 100 years past, this species now faces the much more distributed and serious threat of habitat loss to forestry operations. Huge tracts of valuable, large timber been cut, effectively eliminating nesting in many areas. Until recently, conservation wasn't a a priority in the Sierra Madre. Result being very little land was protected. Trapping and collecting for the pet trade too affected populations and nest sites. 1987, it was estimated that 1000 were in captivity, all from illegally taken birds.

Conservation In 1983, a reintroduction program began in the Arizona mountains. This resulted in a slight population increase that bred several times. Overall project was semi successful since the captive-reared birds didn't recognize or learn to escape from their enemies and no viable population established. Conservationists continues to find methods to successfully reintroduce this bird. Hopefully someday, stable populations of Thick-billed Parrots will again make Arizona their home.


Sierra Madre Alliance

Canadian Parrot Trust


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