Yellow-faced Parrotlet Forpus xanthops


Justification of Red List Category
Rapid population reductions have been observed in this species owing to exploitation for the cage-bird trade. The rate of decline was probably very rapid during the early 1980s, but the situation has now improved. In the absence of recent field surveys, its conservation status is difficult to assess, but is considered Vulnerable because of the reduced level of trade. The species is currently known from only a few locations and has a very small range, so if trading were to increase and the population declined again, its status would revert to Endangered.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals, based on surveys by Begazo (1996) and a subsequent small scale population recovery. This equates to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
Numbers of this species seem to have stabilised following a ban on trapping and trade.

Distribution and population

Forpus xanthops occurs in the upper Marañón Valley, in south Amazonas, south-east Cajamarca and east La Libertad, north-central Peru. Most recent records originate from the Balsas area, in Amazonas/Cajamarca, and the Chagual/Hacienda Soquián area, in La Libertad (Begazo 1996, Begazo et al. 2001, R. Webster and R. A. Rowlett in litt. 1998, J. Hornbuckle in litt. 1999), but intervening areas are considerably less accessible. Records formerly assigned to this taxon in the Bagua area of the Marañón and Utcubamba valleys, north Peru (Dorst 1957), refer to F. coelestis (R. Webster and R. A. Rowlett in litt. 1998, T. S. Schulenberg in litt. 1999, N. Krabbe in litt. 2000). It was formerly abundant (Begazo 1996), but suffered a serious decline, probably during the 1980s, when it became rare in the more accessible areas (Begazo 1996, J. Hornbuckle in litt. 1999). In 1988, numbers were extremely low, with only 168 individuals counted during extensive surveys. It appears to be recovering somewhat following a ban on trade, and the number of birds traded has fallen markedly (Begazo 1996). However, there is little evidence of a substantial recovery (J. Hornbuckle in litt. 1999), and the species remains scarce and difficult to detect (R. Williams in litt. 2012).


It inhabits arid woodland, riparian thickets and desert scrub (Juniper and Parr 1998) at 600-2,000 m (Schulenberg et al. 2007). It is known to feed on canaquil Cercidium praecox, pate flowers Bombax discolor, and plum fruits Prunus domestica (Begazo 1996, F. Angulo Pratolongo in litt. 2012). In captivity, 3-6 eggs are laid, and up to three broods are raised per year. In the wild, the breeding season begins in March and April, and nesting takes place in natural dirt and rock walls, in colonies of up to 70 birds (Begazo 1996).


Trapping for the local cage-bird trade is probably the sole reason for its recent and drastic decline. Trappers estimate that over 17,000 birds were caught in 1981-1994 (a claim verified by dealers), and 1,481 were legally exported in 1981-1984 (Begazo 1996), but no wild-caught specimens were recorded in international trade in 1991-1995 (Snyder et al. 2000). The mortality rate between capture and sale is estimated at 40-100% (Dorst 1957), inevitably raising demand. By 1988, trade was reduced, with just 56 birds recorded in Lima's bird market that year (Begazo 1996). In a study during 2007-2008, 16 individuals were recorded at a market in Chiclayo, the true number traded being much higher since the rate of detection was estimated to be 3% (Gastañaga et al. 2011). An emerging threat is the building of dams on the Marañón, with four planned to be finished by the mid-2010s (Dourojeanni et al. 2009).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It is legally protected in Peru but this is poorly enforced. Capture rates have decreased markedly since the ban, and trappers apparently only capture the species to order (Begazo 1996). There are no protected areas within its range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey the population, especially in the less accessible centre of its range, and between the known ranges of the two Forpus species. Monitor the population, working with local people to generate the will to conserve the species in situ (Begazo 1996). Study its biology and ecology throughout an annual cycle. Control trade and enforce laws on trapping. Create at least one protected area within the species range (Angulo et al. 2008).


15 cm. Green-and-yellow parrotlet. Overall green with bright yellow crown, lores, ear-coverts and chin, fringed with pale blue postocular stripe continuing around rear of ear-coverts. Cobalt-blue lower back, rump and uppertail-coverts, wing-patch and underwing-coverts. Female has paler back and rump, and less blue in wing. Similar spp. Pacific Parrotlet F. coelestis lacks yellow. Voice When perched, a rapid squeaky cheet-cheet-cheet.


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

Williams, R., Hornbuckle, J., Webster, R., Rowlett, R., Krabbe, N., Schulenberg, T., Angulo Pratolongo, F.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Forpus xanthops. Downloaded from on 15/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 15/10/2021.