Red-faced parrot (Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops)
|Size||Length: 22 - 23 cm (2) (3)|
- As its name suggests, the red-faced parrot it most easily recognised by its red face.
- The most common call of the red-faced parrot is a harsh, screeching ‘ch-ek che-ek’.
- The red-faced parrot is found only in a small part of southern Ecuador and north-western Peru.
- The main threat to the red-faced parrot is the loss and fragmentation of its forest habitat.
The red-faced parrot is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and is listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).
The red-faced parrot (Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops) is a bulky, mainly green parrot, with a distinguishing red forehead, shoulders, cheeks and lores. Its ear-coverts are streaked yellow, the wing-coverts and primary feathers are blue, and the tail is dark blue (2) (3). The bill of the red-faced parrot is horn-coloured and its eyes are green to yellow, while its legs are dark grey (3) (5).
The male and female red-faced parrot are similar in appearance. The juvenile resembles the adult, but is duller in colour and has less red on the face (3) (5).
The harsh and screechy call of the red-faced parrot is described as a two-syllable screech, ‘ch-ek che-ek’, with the first part being rasping and the second part being higher pitched (2) (3) (5). This species also gives an ’eek eek eek’ call (2) (3). The red-faced parrot usually calls while perched or feeding (5).
The red-faced parrot is found in the east Andes in southern Ecuador and in neighbouring parts of north-western Peru (2) (3).
The red-faced parrot is found in mountainous cloud forest, and low open forests near the páramo. Evidence suggests that this species may also be found in secondary forests near pasture land, and it has been recorded at elevations of 2,500 to 3,500 metres (2) (3).
The red-faced parrot feeds on a variety of berries, shoots, seeds and flowers. Usually solitary or found in pairs, this species may also occur in groups of up to 20 (2) (3). The sizes of the flocks vary depending on the time of year, with larger flocks occurring in April and May (6).
Like other parrots in the Hapalopsittaca genus, the red-faced parrot nests in tree cavities, with nests being observed in several different species of tree (7). The breeding season is between October and January. Several potential nest cavities are inspected before a suitable site is selected. The red-faced parrot usually lays between 2 to 3 eggs, which are estimated to take between 20 and 30 days to hatch. The nestlings are covered in a grey down, which slowly moults to reveal the green and red plumage of the adults. Adult red-faced parrots feed the nestlings for some time before they leave the nest, usually in late January (6).
Due the specificity of its habitat, and its relativity small range, the main threat facing the red-faced parrot is deforestation (3) (8). Large-scale habitat loss is expected as a result of logging and forest degradation in parts of this species’ range (2) (3). Clearing forest to agricultural land through slash-and-burn practices is further contributing to habitat fragmentation in the region (8).
The red-faced parrot is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning any trade in this species should be carefully monitored (4). The red-faced parrot has also been recorded in protected areas in Ecuador (2) (3).
To conserve this threatened species, actions are needed to protect the remaining cloud forest within its range, while also preventing mining in Ecuadorian National Parks. Further studies to monitor the population of red-faced parrots would also provide more information about the species, to allow more informed conservation decisions to be made (2) (9).
Find out more about the red-faced parrot and its conservation:
BirdLife International - Red-faced parrot:
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- Cloud forest: a tropical mountain forest with a high incidence of cloud cover throughout the year.
- Ear-coverts: the circle of small feathers covering the ear opening of a bird. Also called auriculars.
- Genus: a category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
- Lores: the space between a bird’s bill and eyes.
- Páramo: a unique alpine ecosystem located above the tree line and below the permanent snow line in the Andes Mountain Range. It consists of glacier-formed valleys and plains, with lakes, peat bogs, and wet grasslands.
- Primary feathers: in birds, the main flight feathers projecting along the outer edge of the wing.
- Secondary forest: forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
- Slash-and-burn: the cutting and burning of forests or woodland to create space for agriculture or livestock.
- Wing-coverts: small feathers which cover the bases of other larger feathers, helping to smooth airflow over the wings.
IUCN Red List (November, 2012)
BirdLife International - Red-faced parrot (November, 2012)
- Juniper, T. and Parr, M. (1998) Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. Pica Press, Sussex.
CITES (November, 2012)
World Parrot Trust - Red-faced parrot (November, 2012)
- Toyne, E.P. and Flanagan, J.N.M. (1997) Observations on the breeding, diet and behaviourof the red-faced parrot Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops in southern Ecuador. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club, 117: 257-263.
- Toyne, E.P. and Flanagan, J.N.M. (1996) First nest record of red-faced parrot Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops. Cotinga, 5: 43-45.
- Jacobs, M.D. and Walker, J.S. (1999) Density estimates of birds inhabiting fragments of cloud forest in southern Ecuador. Bird Conservation International, 9: 73-79.
Snyder, N., McGowan, P., Gilardi, J. and Grajal, A. (2000) Parrots: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Available at: