BirdLife species factsheet for Orange-fronted Parakeet
This discussion was first published as part of the 2019 Red List update. At the time a decision regarding the status of this species was pended, but to enable potential reassessment of this species as part of the 2020 Red List update this post remains open and the date of posting has been updated.
Orange-fronted Parakeet (Euspittula canicularis) occurs throughout western Central America, from Sinaloa (Mexico) to north-western Costa Rica. It occupies lowland and hill forest and woodland up to 1,500 m, and is also found in savanna and dry thorn scrub (Collar et al. 2018). The species seems to be able to adapt to deforested areas like pastures, plantations and even urban areas (Collar et al. 2018). The global population has been estimated at 500,000-4,999,999 mature individuals (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008).
Orange-fronted Parakeet is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, with the population assumed to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. However, the species seems to be vulnerable to illegal trapping for the parrot trade. Taking into account this information, Orange-fronted Parakeet may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, it will be re-assessed against all criteria.
Criterion A – A remote-sensing study found that forest loss within the Orange-fronted Parakeet’s range over the last three generations (21 years) was potentially 4% (Tracewski et al. 2016). Considering that the species occupies a wide variety of habitat, including forest edge, open woodland and savanna, and seems to tolerate a certain level of human disturbance (Collar et al. 2018), the species might not qualify as threatened based on forest loss alone. However, Orange-fronted Parakeet is additionally targeted for the illegal parrot trade, which likely exacerbates the rate of decline. Once one of the most abundant parrot species in Central America, it is now heavily trapped and has disappeared locally (J. C. Cantú Guzmán per R. Low in litt. 2017). In general, trapping for the pet trade is a severe risk for parrot species; it constitutes one of the principal threats to Neotropical parrots and can lead to drastic population declines (Berkunsky et al. 2017). While Orange-fronted Parakeet is almost certainly trapped across its entire range (e. g., One Earth Conservation 2016), most information is available for Mexico:
Before the trapping of the species was banned in Mexico in 2002, almost 7,000 individuals were legally captured in 1998-2001 (Cantú Guzmán et al. 2007). However, illegal trapping has continued since; of 65,000-78,500 parrots captured in 2005/2006, about 23,500 were Orange-fronted Parakeets (Cantú Guzmán et al. 2007). According to trappers, 30-500 individuals are poached each year in the states of Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco, while the population there is reported to decline (20-30% decrease in Sinaloa between 2002 and 2007, 25% decrease in Nayarit over an unspecified time, and stable trends in Jalisco) (Cantú Guzmán et al. 2007). In Mexico, Orange-fronted Parakeet is trapped both for the internal market and for export, mainly to the U.S.A. (Cantú Guzmán et al. 2007, Bergman 2009, Palomera-García 2010).
While it was once a common species in the pet trade, it is now becoming increasingly rare (CEC 2017), suggesting an overall rarity of the species in the wild. However, data on trapping intensity and the rate of population decline of Orange-fronted Parakeet are sparse, as there is no data available for populations in central and southern Mexico (from Colima and Michoacán to Chiapas), nor for populations in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Moreover, the available information covers only short periods in the near past (1998-2007). The relevant time period for the Red List, however, is three generation lengths (in this case 21 years) in the past and future, i.e. a period spanning from 1998 to 2019 or from 2019 to 2040, as well as any 21-year-period spanning both past and future.
We therefore request any information regarding the population trend of Orange-fronted Amazon in the given time frames, particularly for the southern part of the range. If there is evidence that the rate of population decline across the entire range approaches or exceeds 30% over three generations (21 years), then Orange-fronted Amazon may qualify for listing as Near Threatened or even Vulnerable under Criterion A2cd+3cd+4cd.
Criterion B – This species has a very large range (Extent of Occurrence = 1,490,000 km2) and is therefore unlikely to approach the thresholds for listing as Vulnerable under Criterion B.
Criterion C – The population size of Orange-fronted Parakeet is estimated to fall in the band 500,000-4,999,999 mature individuals. Even though the population appears to be in decline, it does not fall below the threshold (10,000 mature individuals) for listing under Criterion C.
Criterion D – The population size of Orange-fronted Parakeet is estimated at 500,000-4,999,999 mature individuals and is therefore too large to fall below the threshold (1,000 mature individuals) for listing as Vulnerable under Criterion D.
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.
Hence, it appears that the only criterion where the species may now approach the threshold for Vulnerable is A2cd+3cd+4cd. Therefore, up-to-date information is urgently sought regarding the intensity of trapping, potential additional threats the species might be facing and the rate of population decline across the entire range of Orange-fronted Parakeet.
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.
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.
Bergman, C. 2009. Mexico’s Parrot Trade Exposed. https://defenders.org/magazine/spring-2009/mexicos-parrot-trade-exposed (Accessed 11 December 2018).
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Cantú Guzmán, J. C.; Sánchez Saldaña, M. E.; Grosselet, M.; Gamez, J. S. 2007. The Illegal Parrot Trade in Mexico. A Comprehensive Assessment. Defenders of Wildlife and Teyeliz. México, D. F.; Mexico.
CEC. 2017. Sustainable Trade in Parrots: Action Plan for North America. Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Montreal, Canada.
Collar, N.; Boesman, P.; Kirwan, G.M. 2018. Orange-fronted Parakeet (Eupsittula canicularis). 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. https://www.hbw.com/node/54649 (Accessed 11 December 2018).
One Earth Conservation. 2016. Parrots and People of Latin America. https://www.oneearthconservation.org/single-post/2016/08/12/Parrots-and-People-of-Latin-America?fb_comment_id=1865308233530013_1865725313488305 (Accessed 11 December 2018).
Palomera-García, C. 2010. Habitat use and local harvesting practices of the Orange-fronted Parakeet (Aratinga canicularis) in western Mexico. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment 45: 139-147.
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.