El Oro parakeet (Pyrrhura orcesi)

Adult El Oro parakeets
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El Oro parakeet fact file

El Oro parakeet description

GenusPyrrhura (1)

The El Oro parakeet was first discovered in 1980 during a field expedition to a remote area of cloud forest in southwest Ecuador (2) (4). Despite eluding scientists for so long, it is a relatively eye-catching parakeet with mostly green plumage interspersed with patches of red on the face, breast, under-tail and wings, and blue on the flight-feathers (2) (5) (6). Female El Oro parakeets are thought to have less red around the face, whilst juveniles are duller overall and lack much of the red markings seen on the adult birds (5) (6).

Cotorra de El Oro, Perico de El Oro.
Length: 22 cm (2)

El Oro parakeet biology

As a relatively recently discovered species, very little is known about the ecology of the El Oro parakeet. It is most commonly seen in groups of 4 to 15 birds, but occasionally several flocks will come together temporarily (2) (5) (7). Roost sites appear to change frequently and are generally located 2 to 24 metres above the ground, in natural cavities in trees or open branches. Breeding takes place between November and March and is communal with incubation duties shared amongst several birds (2) (7). It feeds unobtrusively in the canopy on a range of fruits and flowers, but is extremely noisy and conspicuous when in flight (2) (5) (6).


El Oro parakeet range

The El Oro parakeet is endemic to the western slopes of the Andes in southwest Ecuador. It is known from only a small number of localities within a strip of fragmented habitat running north to south for just 100 kilometres (2) (4).


El Oro parakeet habitat

The El Oro parakeet is found only in tropical cloud forest between 800 and 1,200 metres above sea level, hence the narrowness of its range (2).


El Oro parakeet status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


El Oro parakeet threats

Deforestation associated with logging and clearance of trees for agriculture is a huge threat to the survival of the El Oro Parakeet. Although high altitude cloud forest is being deforested at a much slower rate, this species is largely restricted to the more accessible lower altitude forest (2) (7). As habitat becomes more and more fragmented, so the sub-populations are becoming more and more isolated and vulnerable. In 2006, the total population of El Oro parakeets was estimated to be less than 1,000 birds (2).


El Oro parakeet conservation

In the past decade, around 1,500 hectares of forest has been acquired by the Jocotoco Foundation at Buenaventura, the locality in which the El Oro parakeet was first discovered (2) (7) (8). Now known as the Buenaventura Reserve, it is one of the richest ornithological regions of Ecuador, and the only well protected site in which the El Oro parakeet occurs (7) (8). Approximately 80 El Oro parakeets are year-round occupants of the reserve, but at certain times of the year the total number rises to around 120 (7) (9). The long-term aim is to expand the reserve to 5,000 hectares and implement an environmental awareness campaign that will encourage and engage local people in conservation (2) (7) (8).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

To find out more about the conservation of El Oro parakeets and to support the protection of tropical forest visit:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:



Authenticated (13/03/09) by Priv.-Doz. Dr. H. Martin Schaefer, Department of Animal Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Freiburg.



Cloud forest
A tropical mountain forest with a high incidence of cloud cover throughout the year.
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
The feathers at the end of the wing, involved in flight.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2008)
  2. BirdLife International (November, 2008)
  3. CITES (March, 2008)
  4. Ridgely, R.S. and Robbins, M.B. (1988) Pyrrhura orcesi, a new parakeet from southwestern Ecuador, with systematic notes on the P. melanura complex. The Wilson Bulletin, 100(2): 173 - 182.
  5. World Parrot Trust (November, 2008)
  6. The Complete Lexicon of Parrots (November, 2008)
  7. Schaefer, H.M. and Schmidt, V. (2004) Final report of the El Oro Parakeet project, Southwester Ecuador 2002-2003. Fundación Jocotoco, Ecuador. Available at:
  8. American Bird Conservancy (November, 2008)
  9. Schaefer, H.M. (2009) Pers. comm.

Image credit

Adult El Oro parakeets  
Adult El Oro parakeets

© Greg & Yvonne Dean / WorldWildlifeImages.com

Greg & Yvonne Dean
Tel: +44 (0) 1932 223827


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