El Oro Parakeet Pyrrhura orcesi


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very small population. Remaining habitat is fragmented, and both range and population are probably declining rapidly. As a result, it qualifies as Endangered.

Population justification
The largest single population out of 5-6 known localities is at Buenaventura, where a population size of 171 individuals was estimated in 2005-2006 (Garzón & Juiña 2007, H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012), and 300-400 in 2014 (Waugh 2014); but its cooperative breeding system means that the number of breeding birds may be significantly fewer (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012). It is best placed in the band 250-999 mature individuals, which equates to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
Numbers at the type-locality (Buenaventura) were stable from 2002-2007 (Juniper and Parr 1998), estimated at 171 birds in 2005-2006 (Garzón & Juiña 2007, H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012), and 300-400 in 2014 (Waugh 2014). Nevertheless, overall an on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of continued habitat destruction and fragmentation.

Distribution and population

Pyrrhura orcesi occurs on the west slope of the Andes in south-west Ecuador (in Cañar, Azuay, El Oro and Loja), where it was discovered in 1980. It is apparently confined to an area only 100 km from north to south, and a maximum of 5-10 km wide (Juniper and Parr 1998), containing highly fragmented habitat, and with a population estimated at fewer than 1,000 individuals (Garzón & Juiña 2007).


It inhabits very humid, tropical forest from 800-1,200 m (occasionally as low as 300 m). It has been reported to tolerate some habitat fragmentation (Schaefer & Schmidt 2003). It generally occurs in groups of 4-15, although a flock of 60 has been observed. It feeds on various fruit (including figs Ficus spp.), fruits and Cecropia flowers (Snyder et al. 2000). It appears to favour Dacryodes peruviana (Burseraceae) for nesting (Garzón & Juiña 2007) and breeds communally (H.M. Schaefer in litt. 2007) but a pair exhibited pre-nesting behaviour in the cavity of a small Meliaceae tree in 1997 (Snyder et al. 2000), and nests have been reported in natural cavities 1.8-24 m above the ground in a variety of tree species (Schaefer and Schmidt 2003). The main breeding season appears to be  between November and March (Garzón & Juiña 2007). Seasonal movements to lower altitudinal forests have been reported at Buenaventura (H.M. Schaefer in litt. 2007).


Below 900 m, the rate of deforestation in west Ecuador was 57% per decade in 1958-1988, although in the higher parts of its range, with steeper terrain and a harsher climate, deforestation is slower and a greater proportion of forest remains (Dodson & Gentry 1991). In particular, rapid rates of logging around Piñas and Manta Real occurred during the late 1980s and 1990s (N. Simpson in litt. 2000). Typically, these areas were then burnt for cattle-farming. Mining is an additional threat (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012). The species is particularly threatened because it does not occur at higher elevations. Lack of suitable nesting trees may be a limiting factor and nesting at suboptimal sites may increase predation by species such as Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Anon. 2006, Garzón & Juiña 2007, Waugh 2007). Its favoured nesting tree Dacryodes peruviana is highly sought after and frequently targeted for human use (Garzón & Juiña 2007). Subpopulations may be isolated due to forest fragmentation, and the communal breeding system of the species might further increase its vulnerability to habitat loss (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2007). Owing to the cooperative breeding system, only ~50% of mature individuals reproduce. The species suffers from limited genetic diversity as reproductive output is directly related to the genetic diversity of flocks (Klauke et al. 2013). Inbreeding is known to occur, although its effects are unclear (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012). Climate change is apparently causing a very pronounced upslope shift in distribution (now 900-1,600m within Buenaventura valley where it was originally 600-1,100 in the 1980s; Klauke et al. 2016), with a corresponding drastic shrinking of distribution size and available habitat similar to Ecuadorian Tapaculo (Hermes et al. 2017).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Forest at Buenaventura is gradually being purchased and incorporated into a reserve, with the aim of ensuring its long-term conservation; managed by the Jocotoco Foundation, the reserve currently covers 2,200 ha. It protects 60 individuals year-round and c.120 birds seasonally (Schaefer & Schmidt 2003). A nest box scheme has recently been implemented in Buenaventura Reserve (Waugh 2007). Since 2007, 12-15 of 54 nest boxes have been occupied, producing 19 fledglings, with 50 hatchlings produced in 2011 (Anon. 2010, H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012). An education programme was recently started involving excursions to the reserve and talks in local schools (Schaefer & Schmidt 2003, Waugh 2007). The species may occur in the extensive Cordillera de Molleturo Protection Forest, but logging and mining occurs within and around this reserve (N. Simpson in litt. 2000, H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012). Plans to establish an ecological corridor in the cloud forest of El Oro and to declare several protected areas are underway, albeit not yet realized.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to determine its distribution and population status (Wege & Long 1995). Investigate the Cordillera de Molleturo Protection Forest's suitability for wildlife conservation. Assess threats to the species (Snyder et al. 2000). Extend the nest box scheme (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012).


22 cm. Overall green parakeet with variable amount of red on lores, forehead and carpal area, bluish primaries, breast lightly scalloped greyish, dull red patch on belly and reddish undertail. Similar spp. No sympatric Pyrrhura parakeets. Red-masked Parakeet Aratinga erythrogenys is much larger and has more extensive red on forehead. Voice Metallic trilling tchreeet tchreeet calls in flight. Quiet chirping when perched.


Text account compilers
Harding, M., Hermes, C., Benstead, P., Isherwood, I., Khwaja, N., Sharpe, C.J., Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Schaefer, H.M., Garzón, C., Simpson, N., Berg, K., Díaz, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Pyrrhura orcesi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2020.