Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Golden-plumed Parakeet

Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii) is an endemic species occurring only across the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru (Williamson 2020). Within this range, it is widely but locally distributed. In Colombia, the species occurs on both slopes of the central Andes, the southern base of the east Andes and with one record from Cerro Munchique, Cauca, West Andes. Alternatively, it only occurs in isolated massifs in the farthest northern and southern range or across the south on the main Andean ridges in Ecuador and across the Cordillera de Colán and the east Andean slope in Peru, with one record on the western slope of the Cordillera Central in La Libertad (BirdLife International 2016). Within these ranges, it occurs across temperate cloud and elfin forests (Juniper and Parr 1998).

The species was previously thought to be heavily threatened by high forest clearance levels and habitat fragmentation, with habitat loss exceeding 90% in the montane forests of Columbia alone (Salaman et al. 1999b, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999). However, based on recent forest loss estimates (Tracewski et al., 2016; Global Forest Watch 2020), habitat degradation is thought to have reduced substantially, with tree cover loss estimated at less than or equal to 2% over a 3 generation period (10 years; see Bird et al. 2020). Other threats however remain prevalent within the range of the Golden-plumed Parakeet. These include trapping, clearance for agriculture, pasture burning for grazing, predation, nest box occupation or competition and some levels of hunting (Wege and Long 1995, Salaman et al. 1999b, Williamson 2011, Williamson 2016, Quevedo et al. 2006).

The population was previously estimated at 1,500-7,000 mature individuals, based on known records, population abundance and range size. Based on existing population density estimates of 2.3-6.6 individuals/km2 however, and assuming 10% of the area of mapped range (total range of c.  46,000 km2) is occupied by the species, the global population of Golden-plumed Parakeet may number 11,000-30,000 individuals. This roughly equates to 7,300-20,000 mature individuals.

Golden-plumed Parakeet is currently listed as Vulnerable under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd, based on past, current, and future projections of at least or above 30% decline in population size, as well as a decline in AOO, EOO or habitat quality and actual or potential levels of exploitation. However, new information regarding forest loss suggests that the species may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, it will be re-assessed against all criteria:

Criterion A –
Forest loss within the range has substantially reduced, estimating to <2% over 3 generations (Tracewski et al. 2016, Global Forest Watch 2020; one generation length being 3.3 years; Bird et al. 2020)*. Based on this smaller suspected population decline therefore, the species no longer meets the required thresholds for a threatened status. Where other threats remain prevalent, these remain marginal with limited evidence suggesting the species could potentially face heavy declines as a result. Therefore, the species may meet Least Concern under Criterion A.

Criterion B ­– The Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is approximately 1,100,000 km2. As this is too large to warrant listing as threatened under Criterion B1, the Golden-plumed Parakeet qualifies for Least Concern. A maximum Area of Occupancy (AOO) was estimated to be 74,000 km2. This is however an uncertain estimate and remains above the threshold needed to be qualified as threatened under Criterion B2. The species therefore also qualifies for Least Concern under this criterion.

Criterion C – The population of Golden-plumed Parakeet is thought to number at 7,300-20,000 mature individuals. The minimum number of mature individuals therefore initially meets a Vulnerable status under this criterion. However, the species does not meet the required threshold for a threatened status under Criterion C1 due to a small, suspected decline in population. Further, the number of subpopulations may number 2-50, based on a tentative assessment of species range, although actual subpopulation numbers may be closer to the lower end of the estimate. Using a population density of 2.3-6.6 individuals/km2, the largest subpopulation (total range c. 39,000 km2) may additionally contain 6,000-17,000 mature individuals, placed here in the band of 5,001-20,000 mature individuals. Nevertheless, the species again does not meet the required threshold for a threatened status under Criterion C2. Therefore, given that the species fails to meet or nearly meet the required thresholds for a threatened or near-threatened status under any sub-criteria, overall, the species may be considered Least Concern under Criterion C.

Criterion D – The number of mature individuals and range estimated for this species falls beyond the thresholds needed for a threatened status under this criterion. Therefore, Golden-plumed Parakeet may be listed as Least Concern under Criterion D1 and D2.

Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge no quantitative analysis of extinction risk has been conducted for this species. Therefore, it cannot be assessed against this criterion.

Therefore, it is suggested that Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii) be listed as Least Concern. We welcome any comments on the proposed listing.

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. By submitting a comment, you confirm that you agree to the Comment Policy.

*Bird generation lengths are estimated using the methodology of Bird et al. (2020), as applied to parameter values updated for use in each IUCN Red List for birds reassessment cycle. Values used for the current assessment are available on request. We encourage people to contact us with additional or improved values for the following parameters; adult survival (true survival accounting for dispersal derived from an apparently stable population); mean age at first breeding; and maximum longevity (i.e. the biological maximum, hence values from captive individuals are acceptable).

An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.


Bird, J. P.; Martin, R.; Akçakaya, H. R.; Gilroy, J.; Burfield, I. J.; Garnett, S.; Symes, A.; Taylor, J.; Šekercioğlu, Ç.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2020. Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology online first view.

BirdLife International. (2016). Leptosittaca branickii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016.

Global Forest Watch. 2020. Interactive Forest Change Mapping Tool. (Accessed 14th May 2020).

Juniper, T.; Parr, M. 1998. Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Quevedo, A., P. Salaman, A. Mayorquin, N. Osorno, H. Valle, C. Solarte, R. Reinoso, J.
Sanabria, D. Carantón, G. Osorno, and J.C. Verhelst. 2006. Loros amenazados de la Cordillera Central de los Andes de Colombia: una iniciativa de conservación basada en la investigación y la educación ambiental. Conservación Colombiana 1: 21-57.

Salaman, P. G. W.; Donegan, T. M.; Cuervo, A. M. 1999. Ornithological surveys in Serranía de los Churumbelos, southern Colombia. Cotinga 12: 29-39.

Tracewski, Ł.; Butchart, S. H. M.; Di Marco, M.; Ficetola, G. F.; Rondinini, C.; Symes, A.; Wheatley, H.; Beresford, A. E.; Buchanan, G. M. 2016. Toward quantification of the impact of 21st-century deforestation on the extinction risk of terrestrial vertebrates. Conservation Biology 30: 1070-1079.

Wege, D.C. and Long, A.J. 1995. Key Areas for threatened birds in the Neotropics. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Williamson, J.L. 2011. Dos especies de pericos amenazados en el sureste del Ecuador:
biología reproductiva y aspectos ecológicos del Perico Cachetidorado (Leptosittaca branickii) y el Perico Pechiblanco (Pyrrhura albipectus) en la Reserva Tapichalaca, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador con notas sobre su campaña de protección. Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection, School for International Training (SIT), Ecuador.

Williamson, J. L. 2016. Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. Retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

Williamson, J. L. (2020). Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab or Ornithology. Ithaca, NY, USA. (Accessed 14th May 2020).

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6 Responses to Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii): revise global status?

  1. There are mor recent and more up-to-date references that should be considered regarding the ecology and habitat requirements of the species before deciding on whether downlist the species or not.

    Renjifo, L. M.; Amaya-Villarreal, A. M.; Burbano-Giron, J.; Velasquez-Tibata, J. 2016. Libro rojo de aves de Colombia, Volumen II: Ecosistemas abiertos, secos, insulares, acuaticos continentales, marinos, tierras altas del Darien y Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta y bosques humedos del centro, norte y oriente del pais. Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana e Instituto Alexander von Humboldt. Bogota, Colombia.

    Botero-Delgadillo, E. & Páez, C.A. 2011. Estado actual del conocimiento y conservación de los loros amenazados de Colombia. Conservación Colombiana 14:86-151.

    Botero-Delgadillo, E. & Páez, C.A. 2011. Plan de acción para la conservación de los loros amenazados de Colombia 2010–2020: avances, logros y perspectivas. Conservación Colombiana 14:7-16.

    • Corrigendum:
      The first reference on the list should be:
      Renjífo, L. M.; Gómez, M. F.; Velásquez-Tibatá, J.; Amaya-Villareal, A. M.; Kattan, G. H.; Amaya-Espinel, J. D.; Burbano-Girón, J. 2014. Libro rojo de aves de Colombia, Volumen I: bosques húmedos de los Andes y la costa Pacífica. Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Instituto Alexander von Humboldt. Bogotá, Colombia.

  2. Copiado de / copied from: Alex Cortés, Juan Carlos Luna, Andrea Borrero, y Juan Lazaro Toro (2020) Evaluación de especies de aves amenazadas en Colombia / Evaluation of Threatened Birds Species in Colombia. Conservación Colombiana 27: 3-31.

    “En Colombia, Leptosittaca branickii es comun en la vertiente occidental de la Cordillera Central, con muchas poblaciones alrededor de varios parques nacionales importantes, incluidos Los Nevados, Purace y Las Hermosas. También hay algunos registros en la vertiente oriental de la Cordillera Central, pero somos escépticos de que la especie haya sido confirmada en la Cordillera Occidental.

    Estamos de acuerdo en que las estimaciones recientes de pérdida de bosques se redujeron sustancialmente, con una pérdida de cobertura boscosa estimada en menos o igual al 2% durante un período de 3 generaciones. La campaña para proteger el Loro Orejiamarillo y la Palma de Cera sin duda tuvo un impacto increíblemente positivo en la especie (morfológicamente muy parecidos y ocurren en el mismo hábitat, pero escasamente simpátricos). Como tal, la captura y la cacería se han detenido. En Colombia, hay 2,194 listas de verificación (de 2,959 con Perú y Ecuador) que informan sobre la especie, principalmente en la última década. Sospechamos que la estimación de la población es de 5,000-7,500 individuos y está aumentando, pero el AOO es mucho más pequeño, ya que generalmente está bastante localizado donde puede considerarse común como se ve con frecuencia.

    ProAves recomienda que Leptosittaca branickii se enumere como Preocupación Menor en todos los Criterios.”

  3. Copiado de / copied from: Alex Cortés, Juan Carlos Luna, Andrea Borrero, y Juan Lazaro Toro (2020) Evaluación de especies de aves amenazadas en Colombia / Evaluation of Threatened Birds Species in Colombia. Conservación Colombiana 27: 3-31.

    “In Colombia, Leptosittaca branickii is not uncommon on the western slope of the Central Cordillera, with many populations around several major National Parks, including Los Nevados, Purace, and Las Hermosas. There are also some records on the eastern slope of the Central Cordillera, but we are skeptical the species has been confirmed on the Western Cordillera.

    We agree that recent forest loss estimates reduced substantially, with tree cover loss estimated at less than or equal to 2% over a 3 generation period. The campaign to protect the Yellow-eared Parrot and Wax palm has undoubted had an incredibly positive impact on the species (they look similar and occur in the same habitat, but rarely sympatric). As such trapping and hunting have stopped. In Colombia, there are 2,194 checklists (of 2,959 with Peru and Ecuador) reporting the species, mostly in the last decade. We suspect the population estimate of 5,000-7,500 individuals and increasing, but the AOO is much smaller as it is generally fairly localized where it can be considered common as seen frequently.

    ProAves recommends that Leptosittaca branickii be listed as Least Concern under all Criteria.”

  4. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. We greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting. The window for consultation is now closed. We will analyse and interpret the new information and post a preliminary decision on this species’s Red List status on this page in early July.

    Thank you once again,
    BirdLife Red List Team

  5. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2020 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from the initial proposal.

    The final 2020 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2020/January 2021 (information on the IUCN Red List update process can be found here), following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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