Golden parakeet (Guaruba guarouba)

Also known as: Golden conure, Queen of Bavaria conure
Synonyms: Aratinga guarouba
  
Spanish: Aratinga Guaruba
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusGuaruba (1)
SizeLength: 34 cm (2)

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

With its glorious yellow plumage, the golden parakeet is highly prized in the caged-bird trade (2). Only the dark green flight feathers contrast with the largely golden colouration of the rest of the body. It has a white or pinkish ring around each eye and a large horn-coloured bill (2) (4). Juvenile golden parakeets are duller than the adults and are conspicuously streaked with green, particularly on the head and tail (2) (4) (5). The call is a high pitched note uttered alone or in rapid succession (4).

The golden parakeet is endemic to Brazil, where it is restricted to the states of Maranhão, Pará, Rondônia, Mato Grosso and Amazonas (2) (4) (6).

Restricted to the Amazon basin, this species typically occurs in lowland rainforest habitat (2) (4). During the dry season, it is most common in the canopy of tall forests on dry, well drained soils but during the wet season the golden parakeet occurs more frequently in open areas with scattered trees (2) (4) (7).

Biologists have only recently begun to study the golden parakeet in the wild, and consequently there is still much that is not known about this species (8). It appears to be semi-nomadic, moving into different habitats with the changing seasons, and field observations suggest it is highly gregarious, occurring in small flocks of three to thirty closely related birds (2) (4) (9). The breeding season, which generally occurs from December to April, corresponds with the wet season (2). The nests (as well as roosts) are commonly made in tree cavities in open areas and are sometimes communal with several females contributing two to three eggs to each nest (2) (4) (7). After the eggs hatch, all adults are involved in caring for the young, which are able to take advantage of the maize crops which ripen just before fledging (2) (7). At the end of the breeding season and the beginning of the dry season, the family flocks return to the denser parts of the rainforest, where they forage on fruits, berries, seeds and nuts in the canopy (2).

Although the golden parakeet has probably always been relatively scarce, its numbers have been declining for some time. At the turn of the millennium, just 1,000 to 2,500 golden parakeets were estimated to be remaining in the wild (2). Undoubtedly, deforestation and rampant exploitation for the caged-bird trade are chiefly responsible for its precarious status (2) (5). Road construction, development and logging have depleted and fragmented large areas of biologically rich rainforests, which the golden parakeet utilises for nesting, roosting and foraging (2) (4). At the same time, with high demand for this species in the caged-bird trade, illegal trapping continues apace (10). Sadly, it is also hunted for food, feathers and sport and to reduce damage to crops (2).

The golden parakeet is protected by Brazilian law and since 1973 has been listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International in Endangered Species (CITES), which permits trade in this species only under exceptional circumstances (2) (3). Unfortunately, the human and financial resources available to prevent wildlife exploitation are limited and consequently illegal trapping remains prolific and many birds continue to be smuggled out of Brazil (6) (10). There is a population of golden parakeet in the fairly well protected Tapajós National Park, but reserves can be limited in their effectiveness because of this species’ nomadic behaviour (2). There is cause for optimism, however, as in 2001, the Golden Conure Survival Fund was established (4) (8). This has been instrumental in raising significant funds to support much needed research into the species’ population and threats. Furthermore, it is anticipated that future funds will be used to help implement direct conservation initiatives, such as land purchase, education of local people and law enforcement (8) (9) (10).

For further information on the conservation of the golden parakeet see:

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

Authenticated (17/03/09) by Professor Luís Fábio Silveira, Department of Zoology, University of São Paulo.
http://www.ib.usp.br/~lfsilveira

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. BirdLife International (November, 2008)
    http://www.birdlife.org
  3. CITES (April, 2008)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. World Parrot Trust (November, 2008)
    http://www.parrots.org
  5. Watkins, A. (2004) The Conure Handbook. Barron's Educational Series, New York.
  6. Luís Fábio Silveira. (2009) Pers. comm.
  7. Honolulu Zoo (November, 2008)
    http://www.honoluluzoo.org
  8. Reynolds, G. (1999) The golden conure survival fund. PsittaScene, 11: 4 - 6.
  9. Hartley, R. (2000) The golden conure in danger. PsittaScene, 12(3): 8 - 9.
  10. Reynolds, G. (1999) Golden conure research will aid its survival. PsittaScene, 15(2): 10 - 13.