BirdLife species factsheet for Yellow-eared Parrot
Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis) was once abundant across the Andes from northern Colombia to north-western Ecuador. However, habitat loss and subsequent lack of nest site availability as well as hunting led to its almost becoming extinct by the end of the 20th century (Salaman et al. 2019). The species has not been recorded in Ecuador since the 1990s, and only in 1997 a small flock was rediscovered in Colombia (Krabbe and Sornoza 1996, Salaman et al. 1999). Since then, intense conservation efforts aiming at protecting and restoring habitat and at raising awareness among the local population caused an exceptional recovery and increase in population size. From the initial 81 individuals that were rediscovered in 1999, the species increased to 2,600 individuals in 2019 (Salaman et al. 2019).
Yellow-eared Parrot inhabits montane and elfin forest at 1,200-3,400 m. For nesting, roosting and feeding, it is highly dependent on the wax pam Ceroxylon quindiunense (Juniper and Parr 1998, Salaman et al. 1999, 2019).
Yellow-eared Parrot is currently listed as Endangered under Criterion D (BirdLife International 2020). However, the rapid population increase in recent years suggests that the species may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, it will be re-assessed against all Red List criteria:
Criterion A – After drastic population declines to very low numbers by the end of the 20th century, the species has since been undergoing an extraordinary recovery and population increase, re-colonising much of its former range. Yellow-eared Parrot therefore qualifies as Least Concern under Criterion A.
Criterion B – The newly calculated Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is 44,300 km2. This is too large to meet the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion B1, and thus the species is considered Least Concern under this criterion. The Area of Occupancy (AOO) has not been calculated according to IUCN Guidelines (see IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee 2019); hence the species cannot be assessed against Criterion B2.
Criterion C – The global population is currently estimated at 2,600 individuals, which include at least 1,000 mature individuals (Salaman et al. 2019). Even though these numbers are small, the species is increasing rapidly, and as such it is considered Least Concern under Criterion C.
Criterion D – The population is estimated to number 2,600 individuals, of which at least 1,000 are mature (Salaman et al. 2019). With a population size of 1,000 mature individuals, the species would just cross the threshold for downlisting to a non-threatened category. However, for genuine changes in the population size, including a population recovery as experienced by Yellow-eared Parrot, the species can only be moved into a lower threat category when the threshold for the higher category has not been met for five years or more, i.e. when it has qualified for the lower category for at least five years (IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee 2019). Therefore, in order to assess Yellow-eared Parrot against Criterion D1, the population size five years ago, in 2015, is of relevance.
We have no exact information on the population size in 2015. In 2014 however, the population numbered c. 1,400 individuals (P. Salaman in litt. 2019). We know furthermore that in 2019, between 1/3 and 1/2 of all individuals were mature. Assuming that this proportion remained unchanged over the last five years, the population may have numbered around 500 mature individuals in 2014. Assuming further that the population has been increasing exponentially between 2014 and 2019, the population may have numbered c. 575 mature individuals in 2015.
Consequently, as the population numbered less than 1,000 mature individuals five years ago, the species does not yet qualify for downlisting to Near Threatened under Criterion D1. Nevertheless, as the population has been numbering between 251 and 1,000 mature individuals for at least five years, it now qualifies for listing as Vulnerable under Criterion D1.
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 Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icteroris) be listed as Vulnerable under Criterion D1. We welcome any comments on the proposed listing and specifically ask for information on the population size in 2015.
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.
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.
BirdLife International. 2020. Species factsheet: Ognorhynchus icterotis. http://www.birdlife.org (Accessed 15 April 2020).
IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee. 2019. Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 14. http://www.iucnredlist.org/documents/RedListGuidelines.pdf.
Juniper, T.; Parr, M. 1998. Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.
Krabbe, N.; Sornoza, F. 1996. The last Yellow-eared Parrots Ognorhynchus icterotis in Ecuador? Cotinga: 25-26.
Salaman, P.; Cortés, A.; Waugh, D. 2019. Back from the brink: How the recovery of the Yellow-eared Parrot united a nation. Conservación Colombiana 26: 21-35.
Salaman, P. G. W.; López-Lanús, B.; Krabbe, N. 1999. Critically endangered: Yellow-eared Parrot Ognorhynchus icterotis in Colombia. Cotinga 11: 39-41