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Santa Marta Parakeet Pyrrhura viridicata
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This species's range and population are probably declining as a result of habitat loss. It therefore qualifies as Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

25 cm. Overall green parakeet with red frontal band, white orbital ring, maroon ear-coverts, red band on belly, red-orange carpal and primary coverts, blue primaries and red underside of tail. Similar spp. Red-fronted Parakeet Aratinga wagleri is larger, has more red on forecrown, all-green tail and different coloration on wings and belly. Voice Screeching descending flight calls. Soft chatterings from feeding birds.

Distribution and population
Pyrrhura viridicata occurs only in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. Flocks of 5-30 birds are observed daily or every few days (Salaman and Giles 1995, P. Boesman in litt. 1998, Snyder et al. 2000) on the relatively well-watched San Lorenzo Ridge. It is also known from Taquina, where specimens were collected in 1914 and the species was recorded commonly in 2010 (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012), and a population on the west flank of the río Frío which was located in 2001. The area of land on the north slope of the massif within its altitudinal range is less than 600 km2, within which as little as 200 km2 of primary forest may remain (T. Arndt in litt. 1993). Until recently it was judged to be fairly common (Ridgely 1981, Hilty and Brown 1986), but it has surely become less abundant. The total population is usually estimated to be 5,000-10,000 individuals (Renjifo et al. 2002). Others believe that there are no more than 4,000-4,500 individuals, based on estimates of 120 birds at San Lorenzo and using forest cover estimates from satellite images to calculate remaining suitable habitat (Strewe 2005).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 5,000-10,000 individuals, roughly equating to 3,300-6,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rates of habitat loss.


Only 15% of the original vegetation in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta remains, albeit largely on the north slope where this species occurs (L. M. Renjifo pers. comm. 1993, 2000). The main current threat is the expansion of non-native tree plantations, such as those of pine and eucalyptus, along with on-going clearance of land for livestock farming (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). Historically, conversion of forest to marijuana and coca plantations was also a major threat (L. G. Olarte in litt. 1993, L. M. Renjifo pers. comm. 1993, J. Fjeldså verbally 2000, L. M. Renjifo pers. comm. 2000, C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012), which was compounded by the government spraying herbicides on the sierra (L. G. Olarte in litt. 1993, L. M. Renjifo pers. comm. 1993, 2000). Other threats that followed human immigration to the area from the 1950s onwards include logging and burning (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Snyder et al. 2000, Salazar and Strewe undated, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999). It is known to be hunted in the río Frío valley, and in San Pedro district individuals in blackberry plantations have been shot. The species has not been found in the local bird trade (Strewe 2005).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is protected by two national designations and is an international biosphere reserve (IUCN 1992), but this has not conserved the massif's ecosystems effectively. All known sites for the species lie within Indian reservations where indigenous people have management rights and it is not possible to control management or hunting (Strewe 2005). In 2006, 1,600 acres of northwest Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta were protected through the American Bird Conservancy, Fundación ProAves and Conservation International and renamed as El Dorado Nature Reserve (Anon. 2006). The reserve currently emcompasses 2,250 acres. Within its boundaries, Fundación ProAves has overseen an on-going pine eradication project since 2006, removing thousands of trees and saplings and planting native trees appropriate to Santa Marta Parakeet's foraging and nesting requirements (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). Artificial nestboxes have been used since 2006 (Olaciregui and Borja 2011).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Estimate current population levels and the area of remaining suitable habitat (Snyder et al. 2000). Evaluate the state of all known populations, and localise new populations according to distribution models (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). Study its habitat tolerance and population densities in different forest-types (Snyder et al. 2000, Salazar and Strewe undated). Research its ecology, movements and conservation status (Snyder et al. 2000). Work with local communities and regional institutions to identify and prioritise conservation and management strategies (Salazar and Strewe undated). Establish education programmes working with local communities to combat hunting and persecution (Strewe 2005).

Anon. 2005. Project Pyrrhura. Cyanopsitta 79: 17.

Anon. 2005. Project Pyrrhura. Cyanopsitta 79: 17.

Anon. 2007. Santa Maria Parakeets use artificial nest-boxes for the second year. Cyanopsitta: 15-16.

Dinerstein, E.; Olson, D. M.; Graham, D. J.; Webster, A. L.; Primm, S. A.; Bookbinder, M. P.; Ledec, G. 1995. A conservation assesssment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Hilty, S. L.; Brown, W. L. 1986. A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

IUCN. 1992. Protected areas of the world: a review of national systems. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

Olaciregui, C.; Borja, R. 2011. Aspectos de la biología reproductiva del Periquito de Santa Marta (Pyrrhura viridicata) en la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Conservación Colombiana 14: 48-57.

Renjifo, L. M.; Franco-Maya, A. M.; Amaya-Espinel, J. D.; Kattan, G. H.; López-Lans, B. 2002. Libro rojo de aves de Colombia. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt y Ministerio del Medio Ambiente, Bogot, Colombia.

Ridgely, R. S. 1981. The current distribution and status of mainland Neotropical parrots. In: Pasquier, R.F. (ed.), Conservation of New World parrots, pp. 233-384. Smithsonian Institution Press for the International Council for Bird Preservation, Washington, D.C.

Salaman, P. G. W.; Giles, O. A. R. 1995. Notes on threatened bird from Colombia between July--December 1994.

Salazar, F.; Strewe, R. undated. Ornithological research and conservation initiatives on the northern slope of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.

Snyder, N.; McGowan, P.; Gilardi, J.; Grajal, A. 2000. Parrots: status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Strewe, R. 2005. Aktuelle Situation des Santa-Marta-Rotschwanzsittichs in Kolumbien. Papageien: 94-97.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Isherwood, I., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A., Khwaja, N.

Arndt, T., Boesman, P., Olarte, L., Salaman, P., Olaciregui , C.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pyrrhura viridicata. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Santa Marta parakeet (Pyrrhura viridicata) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author Todd, 1913
Population size 3300-6700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 460 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species