Archived 2010-2011 topics: Maroon-fronted Parrot (Rhynchopsitta terrisi): uplist to Endangered?

Link to BirdLife species factsheet for Maroon-fronted Parrot

Previous forum topic:

“Maroon-fronted Parrot Rhynchopsitta terrisi is currently listed as Vulnerable under criterion B1 of the IUCN Red List owing to its small range and declining area of habitat. 23 colonies are known from a restricted area of suitable habitat in the Sierra Madre Oriental in Nuevo León, Coahuila and Tamaulipas, Mexico (R. Valdés in litt. 2008). These birds constitute a single meta-population which joins together during the non-breeding season when c.3,000 individuals are estimated. This total no doubt supports many immature birds. If the number of mature individuals is thought to be below 2,500 the species may warrant uplisting to Endangered under criterion C2aii. Although the species may benefit from a recent law change in Mexico banning the capture and trade of wild parrots its habitat is seriously threatened from by a range of processes. Comments on this proposal to uplist the species are welcomed.”

Additional information and requests:

This species’s breeding range (estimated at 1,300 km2) is smaller than 5,000 km2 and thus the species almost meets the thresholds for Endangered under the B criterion, but at present we consider it to be found at more than five locations and habitat fragmentation has not been judged to be severe, i.e. over 50% of suitable habitat in patches too small to support viable populations. Note that for the purposes of the Red List criteria ‘location’ defines a “geographically or ecologically distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of the taxon present. The size of the location depends on the area covered by the threatening event and may include part of one or many sub-populations. Where a taxon is affected by more than one threatening event, location should be defined by considering the most serious plausible threat” (IUCN 2001).

Recently, the species’s population was estimated at c.3,500 individuals (Valdés-Peña et al. 2008); however, it has been suggested that the population size has been over-estimated for this species (J. Gilardi in litt. 2010), so up-to-date information is requested. Details of the likely sub-population structure would also be very useful, specifically the maximum number of individuals in any one sub-population or the maximum percentage of all mature individuals that form a single sub-population. Please note that for Red List assessments ‘sub-populations’ are defined as “geographically or otherwise distinct groups in the population between which there is little demographic or genetic exchange (typically one successful migrant individual or gamete per year or less)” (IUCN 2001). Furthermore, the rate of decline has not been estimated for this species, and ideally should be done so for a period of the past 33 years (three generations).

IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN.

Valdés-Peña, R. A., Ortiz-Maciel, S. G., Valdez-Juarez, S. O., Enkerlin-Hoeflich, E. C. and Snyder, N. F. R. (2008) Use of clay licks by Maroon-fronted Parrots (Rhynchopsitta terrisi) in northern Mexico. Wilson J. Orn. 120: 176-180.

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4 Responses to Archived 2010-2011 topics: Maroon-fronted Parrot (Rhynchopsitta terrisi): uplist to Endangered?

  1. Joe Taylor says:

    Posted by Rene Valdes on 25 February 2010, in reaction to the previous forum topic:

    Supporting the Criteria C2aii proposed for this species, I contribute with the next paragraphs with relevant information.

    Data from 1996-2009 recorded by the ITESM Campus Monterrey, in charge of the Maroon-fronted Parrot Project, have collected the following:

    Counts of large wintering aggregations between 2004-2009 showed flocks up to 3000 individuals, and this numbers have been considered the total or at least >95% of the species population size (because the known gregarious behavior during wintering). In addition, nesting productivity data from 1996 to 2009, and explorations to almost all the breeding range, suggests that the known nesting colonies could adds the majority of the breeding population.

    Considering the proposed population size, and according to the ITESM’s long-term research, less than the10% of the population is breeding successfully. And as suggested by the Forum’s moderator, our numbers no doubt supports many immature birds in the population; and this is also supported by the statistical prediction of an average annual recruitment rate of 171.4 successful fledglings (Ortiz-Maciel in litt). Even though mortality rates after they fledged is unknown, the current mentioned information, may support that >500 immature individuals (up to an estimate of 4 years old) are integrating the population, which means that mature individuals should be very below than 2,500, and may warrant uplisting to Endangered under the Criteria C2aii.

    In addition, even when Criteria B1b(i,ii,iii) may not apply because it refers to the total extent of occurrence (and this is known to be the whole Sierra Madre Oriental, of about 18,000Km2), is relevant to mention that this parrots are migratory within the mentioned distribution; and the highly important breeding range its only up to 4,000 km2. Also important to mention, is the area of occupancy which is less than 45% from the occurrence area due the species is restricted only to Pine Forest and its mixed communities (as Pine-Oak, Pine-Oak/ Shrub, Pine/Shrub, Oak-Pine, and Oak-Pine/Shrub Forests).

    Some of the threats of the breeding range habitat are: Intensive grazing and agricultural conversion that have destroyed and degraded forest. Annual fires burn large areas (in 1998, 20 km2 of foraging habitat were lost, and 20 km2 including the 90% of the El Taray Sanctuary, were lost by two wildfires in 2006), which regenerate as dense and unsuitable shrub vegetation.

    Even when parrots nests colonially in solution holes in limestone cliffs which are naturally protected, breeding is extremely related to the fruiting pattern of pines (they feeds almost exclusively on pinions, >90%). Because of this, I think that the habitat threats of the breeding range and its foraging sites should be considered as highly essential for the species’ survival when Criterions asks for the risk conditions of the occurrence/occupancy areas; which in this case, are in an observed continuing decline.

    Biol. Rene Valdes
    ITESM Campus Monterrey
    Maroon-fronted Parrot Project

  2. Dear All,

    Just a quick note of clarification – I didn’t mean to suggest that 1. these sightings of virtually all the individuals in one massive flock are incorrect, or 2. that they are at all incomplete. My sense is that Mr. Valdes’s comments above about these observations are accurate and I have no reason to doubt them.

    Of concern here is what this number means in relation to the question of the total number of mature individuals in a population. For many rare parrots, we’re finding that a general rule of thumb seems to hold that for a given total population of birds, there are generally about 10% of that number in active nesting pairs. Applying that here would suggest that a total population of 3000 parrots would correspond to about 300 active nesting pairs. If that were the case, and say 40% of mature individuals do not breed in any given year (which I hope is liberal), then there would be about 500 pairs or 1000 mature individuals in the population.

    I’m the first to admit that this isn’t terribly scientific, but I do think it’s important in discussions like this regarding long lived birds, to be careful to note that translating total birds counted into mature individuals is an essential part of evaluating these populations in an IUCN framework. Certainly, more details on the number of active nests in the wild would help shore up this very loose approach, and given that this species is colonial, some of this data may in fact be available now.

    All best wishes,


  3. Recent data suggests that from 1999 to 2008, >15,400 ha of pine forests were destroyed by wildfires in the breeding range (Ortiz-Maciel et al. in litt) which represents 11.9% of the reported breeding range of 1300km2 considered. Since Maroon-fronted Parrots prefers Pinus-Abies-Pseudotsuga forests (Ortiz-Maciel et al. 2010) which has scant regeneration once destroyed (Brown and Shoch 2000); special attention is needed to protect these forests, and Maroon-fronted Parrot may be moved to Endangered under B1b(iii) criteria.

  4. Rene Valdes says:

    Taking the first pharagraph from “Additional information and requests”:

    — Note that for the purposes of the Red List criteria ‘location’ defines a “geographically or ecologically distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of the taxon present. The size of the location depends on the area covered by the threatening event and may include part of one or many sub-populations—-

    If I understood well, then I should point then that the Marron-fronted Parrot occurs in one single location. This is a metapopulation with NOT geographically or ecologically distinct areas where they inhabit. In this location are located all their breeding cliffs, and the area where they breed is the already mentioned in the species factsheet (less than 5,000 km2), which met for the Endangered status under the criteria B1a+b(i,ii,iii)

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