Orange-fronted Parakeet Eupsittula canicularis


Justification of Red List Category
The species is threatened by illegal trapping for the parrot trade. Population declines have been rapid in the past, but the rates of illegal capture appears to be slowing down in recent years, at least in parts of its range. The species is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number 500,000-4,999,999 mature individuals (Partners in Flight 2019).

Trend justification
Once one of the most abundant parrot species in Central America, it is now heavily trapped and has disappeared locally (J. C. Cantú per R. Low in litt. 2017). While the species is almost certainly trapped across its entire range (e. g., One Earth Conservation 2016), most information is available for Mexico:
before the trapping of the species was banned in Mexico in 2008, almost 9,000 individuals were legally captured in 1998-2008 (Cantú et al. 2007). Since the ban in 2008, illegal trapping is still ongoing. According to trappers, 30-500 individuals are poached each year in the states of Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco, while the population there is reported to decline (20-30% decrease in Sinaloa between 2002 and 2007, 25% decrease in Nayarit over an unspecified time, and stable trends in Jalisco) (Cantú et al. 2007). Between 1995 and 2019, 11,402 individuals were seized from illegal trade, which represents about 2% of the total number of individuals in trade (Cantú et al. 2007 and PROFEPA seizure data for 1995-2019). This means that in total c. 570,100 individuals were illegally captured in 1995-2019. Assuming that an equal number of individuals is captured every year, the annual illegal take would be c. 23,500 individuals (Cantú et al. 2007). Based on the overall population estimate and range size, the national population in Mexico is tentatively assumed to number 330,000-3,300,000 mature individuals (per A. Panjabi in litt. 2008, Partners in Flight 2019). Of these, c. 23,500 individuals were taken each year over the past three generations (11.1 years, i.e. between 2009 and 2020), which roughly equates to 15,500 mature individuals per year. This corresponds to a decline of c. 0.47-4.7% per year, i. e. 5-41% over three generations in Mexico. Available evidence suggests that the rate of illegal capturing has slowed down in recent years (J. C. Cantú in litt. 2020); therefore the true rate of decline of Orange-fronted Parakeet in Mexico may be closer to the lower end of the estimate.Trapping occurs in other range states as well (N. Herrera in litt. 2020), and and it is here tentatively assumed that population declines are similar across the entire range. The rate of past decline is therefore here placed in the band 30-49% over three generations. Data from Mexico suggests that trapping is decreasing in recent years, so rates of population decline will likely be considerably lower in the future.

Distribution and population

The species occurs along the Pacific slope of western Central America, from Sinaloa (Mexico) to north-western Costa Rica.


The species occupies lowland and hill forest and woodland up to 1,500 m, and is also found in savanna and dry thorn scrub (Collar et al. 2020). Is seems to be able to adapt to deforested areas like pastures, plantations and even urban areas (Collar et al. 2020). The species is closely associated with termites (e.g. Euthermes nigriceps) and uses arboreal termite nests for breeding (J. C. Cantú in litt. 2020).


The most severe threat to the species is trapping for the pet trade, which has led to local extirpations (Cantú et al. 2007, J. C. Cantú Guzmán per R. Low in litt. 2017, Collar et al. 2020). In general, trapping for the pet trade is a severe risk for parrot species; it constitutes one of the principal threats to Neotropical parrots and can lead to drastic population declines (Berkunsky et al. 2017). In Mexico, parrot trade was banned in 2008, but before then the species was trapped legally (Cantú et al. 2007, J. C. Cantú in litt. 2020). Between 1998 and 2008, over 8,000 individuals were legally captured, making it the second-most captured parrot species in Mexico (J. C. Cantú in litt. 2020). Since the ban in 2008, illegal capturing is still ongoing in Mexico, albeit decreasing in recent years (Cantú et al. 2007, J. C. Cantú in litt. 2020). Trapping has also been recorded in Costa Rica and El Salvador (Collar et al. 2020). A further threat is habitat loss and degradation; however due to its tolerance of converted habitats the species is not severely affected by habitat destruction (Collar et al. 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the population size and trend. Monitor the intensity of trapping. Enforce the ban of illegal trade. Raise awareness among the local population.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Butchart, S., Cantú, J., Ekstrom, J., Herrera, N., Low, R. & Panjabi, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Eupsittula canicularis. Downloaded from on 25/02/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/02/2021.