Maroon-tailed Parakeet (Pyrrhura melanura) is being split: assessment of newly recognised taxa.

BirdLife species factsheet for Maroon-tailed Parakeet

Following a taxonomic reassessment, Maroon-tailed Parakeet (Pyrrhura melanura) has been split into Maroon-tailed Parakeet (P. melanura) and Upper Magdalena Parakeet (P. chapmani). The newly defined Upper Magdalena Parakeet occurs in the Upper Magdalena Valley on the eastern slope of the Central Andes in the departments Tolima and Huila (Donegan et al. 2016, Collar et al. 2019). It is found in cloud forest at an elevation of 1,600-2,800 m (Collar et al. 2019). Upper Magdalena Parakeet is known from a small number of localities (Donegan et al. 2016), including the La Riviera and Los Yalcones reserves (Calderón 2005, Bradley 2015).

The pre-split species was listed as Least Concern, undergoing a slow decline due to forest loss and trapping (BirdLife International 2019). It is highly unlikely that the removal of the Upper Magdalena Parakeet from the pre-split taxon will have large effects on the overall population size, distribution range and trend of the newly defined Maroon-tailed Parakeet; thus, unless new information becomes available, Maroon-tailed Parakeet will be retained as Least Concern.

Recent information on the newly split Upper Magdalena Parakeet, however, suggests that declines could be occurring at a greater rate (Donegan et al. 2016) due to the combination of habitat loss and trapping. Therefore, Upper Magdalena Parakeet warrants a thorough assessment as it is likely that it qualifies for listing under a threatened category. The assessment for the species is provided below.

Criterion A – The population trend of Upper Magdalena Parakeet has not been directly estimated. However, the species’s high dependence on cloud forests makes it vulnerable to deforestation, which is undergoing in its restricted range (Donegan et al. 2016, Collar et al. 2019). Tree cover loss between 2001 and 2018 within the range of Upper Magdalena Parakeet amounted to 530 km2 (Global Forest Watch 2014). Even though we do not have data on the intensity of trapping, it is unlikely that the population decline caused by habitat loss and trapping combined meets or approaches the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion A (decline ≥30% over three generations or ten years). Based on this assumption, we can infer a rate of population decline of < 20% over ten years. Unless new information becomes available, the species warrants listing as Least Concern under Criterion A.

Criterion B – The Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for Upper Magdalena Parakeet has been calculated as 14,800 km2. This meets the threshold for Vulnerable under Criterion B1 (EOO < 20,000 km2). The maximum Area of Occupancy (AOO), as calculated from a 2 km by 2 km grid overlaid over the mapped range, is 7,766 km2. This is does not approach the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion B2 (AOO < 2,000 km2). Nevertheless, in order to warrant listing as threatened under Criterion B1, at least two further conditions must be met.

Upper Magdalena Parakeet is to date only known from a small number of localities. The number of locations* has not been quantified, though. The most severe threat to the species is thought to be forest loss (Donegan et al. 2016, BirdLife International 2019): considering that forests are logged and degraded rapidly throughout the Upper Magdalena Valley a precautionary assumption is that the species occurs at ≤10 locations*, thus fulfilling condition (a). Moreover, as a consequence of forest loss, the species’s AOO, habitat quality and population size are in decline, fulfilling condition (b). There is no evidence that the species is undergoing extreme fluctuations, so it does not meet condition (c). Overall, Upper Magdalena Parakeet warrants listing as Vulnerable under Criterion B1ab(ii,iii,v).

Criterion C – The population size of Upper Magdalena Parakeet has not been directly estimated. Preliminarily, we can derive a population estimate based on density estimates of a congener, the Santa Marta Parakeet Pyrrhura viridicata. This species was found at densities of c.4-7 individuals per km2. Assuming that Upper Magdalena Parakeet occurs at a similar density and that 20% of the EOO are occupied, the population numbers c.11,840-20,720 individuals. This roughly equates to 8,000-14,000 mature individuals. Assuming that the true population size is closer to the lower end of the estimate, this falls below the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion C. However, in order to be listed under this criterion, further conditions have to be met.

The species is thought to undergo a continuing decline at < 20% over ten years. This rate meets the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion C1; however, as the decline is inferred, it does not fully meet the conditions. However, unless new information on the population decline becomes available, the species may be listed as Near Threatened under Criterion C1. There is no evidence of any subdivision or major barrier to dispersal within the species’s restricted range; on a precautionary basis we can assume that the species forms one single subpopulation. Therefore, the species meets condition 2a(ii), but not 2a(i). As Upper Magdalena Parakeet is not known to undergo extreme fluctuations, it does not fulfil condition 2b. Overall, Upper Magdalena Parakeet may be listed as Vulnerable under Criterion C2a(ii).

Criterion D – The population size and range of this species are too large to meet the threshold for listing as threatened under this criterion. Thus, Upper Magdalena Parakeet may be listed as Least Concern under Criterion D.

Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge there have been no quantitative analyses of extinction risk carried out for either of these species. Therefore, they cannot be assessed against this criterion.

Thus, it is proposed that Upper Magdalena Parakeet (Pyrrhura chapmani) be listed as Vulnerable under Criteria B1ab(ii,iii,v); C2a(ii). We welcome any comments on this proposed listing and specifically request up-to-date information on the population size and trend of the species.

Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of its Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are relevant to the discussion outlined in the topic.

*The term ‘location’ refers to a distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of the taxon present, with the size of the location depending on the area covered by the threatening event. Where a taxon is affected by more than one threatening event, location should be defined by considering the most serious plausible threat (IUCN 2001, 2012).


BirdLife International. 2019. Species factsheet: Pyrrhura melanura (Accessed 01/05/2019).

Bradley, D. 2015. XC298283. (Accessed 01/05/2019).

Calderón, D. 2005. XC147993. (Accessed 01/05/2019).

Collar, N.; Kirwan, G. M.; Boesman, P.; Bonan, A. 2019. Maroon-tailed Parakeet (Pyrrhura melanura). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D. A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain. (Accessed 01/05/2019).

Donegan, T.; Verhelst, J. C.; Ellery, T.; Cortés-Herrera, O.; Salaman, P. 2016. Revision of the status of bird species occurring or reported in Colombia 2016 and assessment of BirdLife International’s new parrot taxonomy. Conservación Colombiana 24: 12-36.

Global Forest Watch. 2014. World Resources Institute. (Accessed 22/05/2019).

IUCN. 2001. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K. IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

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