email a friend
printable version
El Oro Parakeet Pyrrhura orcesi
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This species is known from few areas in a very small range. Remaining habitat is fragmented, and both range and population are probably declining rapidly. As a result, it 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: #

22 cm. Overall green parakeet with variable amount of red on lores, forehead and carpal area, bluish primaries, breast lightly scalloped greyish, dull red patch on belly and reddish undertail. Similar spp. No sympatric Pyrrhura parakeets. Red-masked Parakeet Aratinga erythrogenys is much larger and has more extensive red on forehead. Voice Metallic trilling tchreeet tchreeet calls in flight. Quiet chirping when perched.

Distribution and population
Pyrrhura orcesi occurs on the west slope of the Andes in south-west Ecuador (in Cañar, Azuay, El Oro and Loja), where it was discovered in 1980. It is apparently confined to an area only 100 km from north to south, and a maximum of 5-10 km wide (Juniper and Parr 1998), containing highly fragmented habitat, and with a population estimated at fewer than 1,000 individuals (Garzón 2007). Numbers at the type-locality (Buenaventura) were stable from 2002-2007 (Juniper and Parr 1998), estimated at 171 birds in 2005-2006 (Garzón 2007, H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012).

Population justification
The largest single population out of 5-6 known localities is at Buenaventura, where 171 individuals were estimated in 2005-2006, but its cooperative breeding system means that the number of breeding birds may be significantly fewer (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012).  It is best placed in the band 250-999 mature individuals, which equates to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
An on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of continued habitat destruction and fragmentation.

It inhabits very humid, tropical forest from 800-1,200 m (occasionally as low as 300 m). It has been reported to tolerate some habitat fragmentation (Schaefer and Schmidt 2003). It generally occurs in groups of 4-15, although a flock of 60 has been observed. It feeds on various fruit (including figs Ficus spp.), fruits and Cecropia flowers (Snyder et al. 2000). It appears to favour Dacryodes peruviana (Burseraceae) for nesting (Garzón 2007) and breeds communally (T. Schaefer in litt. 2007) but a pair exhibited pre-nesting behaviour in the cavity of a small Meliaceae tree in 1997 (Snyder et al. 2000), and nests have been reported in natural cavities 1.8-24 m above the ground in a variety of tree species (Schaefer and Schmidt 2003). The main breeding season appears to be  between November and March (Garzón 2007). Seasonal movements to lower altitudinal forests have been reported at Buenaventura (T. Schaefer in litt. 2007).

Below 900 m, the rate of deforestation in west Ecuador was 57% per decade in 1958-1988, although in the higher parts of its range, with steeper terrain and a harsher climate, deforestation is slower and a greater proportion of forest remains (Dodson and Gentry 1991). In particular, rapid rates of logging around Piñas and Manta Real occurred during the late 1980s and 1990s (N. Simpson in litt. 2000). Typically, these areas were then burnt for cattle-farming. Mining is an additional threat (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012). The species is particularly threatened because it does not occur above c.1,300 m. Lack of suitable nesting trees may be a limiting factor and nesting at suboptimal sites may increase predation by species such as Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Anon. 2006, Garzón 2007, Waugh 2007). Its favoured nesting tree Dacryodes peruviana is highly sought after and frequently targeted for human use (Garzón 2007). Subpopulations may be isolated due to forest fragmentation, and the communal breeding system of the species might further increase its vulnerability to habitat loss (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2007). Inbreeding is known to occur, although its effects are unclear (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Portions of forest at Buenaventura have been recently purchased with the aim of ensuring their long-term conservation (López Lanús and Lowen 1999); the reserve currently covers 2,000 ha (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012). The reserve protects 60 individuals year-round and c.120 birds seasonally (Schaefer and Schmidt 2003). A nest box scheme has recently been implemented in Buenaventura Reserve (Waugh 2007). Since 2007, 12-15 of 54 nest boxes have been occupied, producing 19 fledglings, with 50 hatchlings produced in 2011 (Anon. 2010, H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012). An education programme was recently started involving excursions to the reserve and talks in local schools (Schaefer and Schmidt 2003, Waugh 2007). The species may occur in the extensive Cordillera de Molleturo Protection Forest, but logging and mining occurs within and around this reserve (N. Simpson in litt. 2000, H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012). Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to determine its distribution and population status (Wege and Long 1995). Investigate the Cordillera de Molleturo Protection Forest's suitability for wildlife conservation. Assess threats to the species (Snyder et al. 2000). Extend the nest box scheme (H. M. Schaefer in litt. 2012).

Anon. 2006. Project update: conservation of the El Oro Parakeet. Cyanopsitta: 17-18.

Anon. 2010. Latest discoveries about the El Oro Parakeet. Cyanopsitta: 18-19.

Baptista, L. F.; Trail, P. W.; Horblit, H. M. 1997. Family Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world v.4, pp. 60-243. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Best, B. J.; Clarke, C. T.; Checker, M.; Broom, A. L.; Thewlis, R. M.; Duckworth, W.; McNab, A. 1993. Distributional records, natural history notes, and conservation of some poorly known birds from southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 113: 108-109, 234-255.

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Dodson, C. H.; Gentry, A. H. 1991. Biological extinction in western Ecuador. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 78: 273-295.

Haase, B. 1997. The impact of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on birds: update from Ecuador 1997. Cotinga: 64-65.

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

López-Lanús, B.; Lowen, J. C. 1999. Observations of breeding activity in the El Oro Parakeet Pyrrhura orcesi. Cotinga 11: 46-47.

Schaefer, V., Schmidt, H. M. 2003. Erste Erfolge im Schutz des Orces-Sittichs in Ecuador [First successes in the protection of the El Oro parakeet in Ecuador]. ZGAP Mitteilungen 19(2): 24.

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.

Waugh, D. 2007. As Tiribas-do-el-Oro (Pyrrhura orcesi) ocupam caizas-ninho com muito gosto na natureza. Atualidades Ornitológicas: 25.

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

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

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

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

Berg, K., Díaz, D., Garzón, C., Schaefer, H.M., Simpson, N.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Pyrrhura orcesi. Downloaded from on 30/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/07/2014.

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 - El Oro parakeet (Pyrrhura orcesi) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author Ridgely & Robbins, 1988
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 750 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species