2002 saw the dramatic rediscovery of this enigmatic parrot, which had been lost to the world for over 90 years, and remains one of the rarest birds on Earth (4). The plumage is mainly yellowish-green, ornately decorated with rich splashes of colour. These include an orange-red patch above the bill, a yellow forehead and face, a pale blue crown and nape, red shoulders, dark bluish primary wing feathers, a variable red central belly-patch, and a red tail with violet tip (5).
The breeding and feeding ecology of Fuertes’s parrot are virtually unknown, but birds have been observed feeding on berries, and it is likely to show a preference for mistletoe berries shown by congeners(2)(5).
Nests are thought to be made in cavities in tall, mature trees (6).
Found in wet, temperate cloud forest between 2,610 and 3,490 m above sea level, with most records coming from between 2,900 to 3,150 m (2)(5). Recorded from fairly open, and possibly disturbed, forest with small palms and tree ferns (5).
Fuertes’s parrot has an extremely small estimated population of just 50 to 250 individuals, and occupies a precariously small range. Forests in the region have been extensively cleared so that little suitable habitat now remains. Furthermore, it is thought that the species could be declining as a result of possible displacement by, or even hybridisation with, the rusty-faced parrot (H. amazonina). Although no major threats have been identified, such a small range and population renders the species extremely vulnerable (5).
Fuertes’s parrot is protected in the Alto Quindío Acaime and Cañon del Quindío Natural Reserves (5). Following the incredible rediscovery of this colourful parrot, there has been a surge of conservation work in the region and nest boxes have been provided where few mature trees suitable for nesting remained. This initiative has been highly successful, with 21 nest boxes active in 2005, and each box producing three chicks twice a year, helping population numbers to slowly climb (4).
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