Thick-billed parrot (Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha)

Thick-billed parrot portrait
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Thick-billed parrot fact file

Thick-billed parrot description

GenusRhynchopsitta (1)

The thick-billed parrot is bright green in colour and globally endangered. The forehead, bend of the wings and the thighs are scarlet, whilst the underside of the wings are yellow (4). As the common name suggests, these parrots posses large, powerful black bills (4).

Cotorra-serrana Occidental, Loro Piquigordo, Periquito de Pico Grueso.
Length: 38 cm (2)

Thick-billed parrot biology

Nests are constructed in the hollows of conifer trees; the breeding season runs from July to September, possibly in response to increased food availability (5). Around 3 eggs are usually laid and these are incubated over a month (5). After hatching the chicks take a further 59 – 65 days to fledge and remain dependent on their parents for a period of time after fledging (5).

Pine nuts constitute the majority of the thick-billed parrot diet. Mexican white pine appears to be a preferred species but the seeds of Douglas fir, Apache pine and Chihuahua pine are also taken (5). Flocks gather on a single tree and clip the cones from their branches before shredding their outer coats to get to the seeds within (5).


Thick-billed parrot range

The species’ remaining stronghold occurs in the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico. Today, thick-billed parrots are restricted to this area, having been lost from Arizona and New Mexico in the United States (5).


Thick-billed parrot habitat

Thick-billed parrots inhabit old-growth coniferous forests at altitudes above 1,200 metres (2).


Thick-billed parrot status

Classified as Endangered (EN – C1) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Thick-billed parrot threats

The population of the thick-billed parrot has been reduced to worryingly low numbers and the species has been lost from much of its former range. The major habitat of this species, old growth conifer forests, has been extensively logged throughout the region, with devastating consequences (2). The illegal pet trade has also targeted these attractive parrots (5).


Thick-billed parrot conservation

International trade is prohibited by the listing of the thick-billed parrot on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3). In 2000, a ban on logging operations in Bisalocahic, Mexico came into effect (6). It is estimated that this forest area contains around 10% of the world population of thick-billed parrots, so it was a vital move to protect their habitat (6).

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

Find out more

For more information on the thick-billed parrot see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2003)
  2. BirdLife International (2003) BirdLife’s online World Bird Database: the site for bird conservation. Version 2.0. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International. Available at:
  3. CITES (August, 2003)
  4. Erritzoe, J. (1993) The Birds of CITES and How to Identify Them. The Lutterworth Press, Cambridge.
  5. Canadian Parrot Trust (August, 2003)
  6. BirdLife (2000) Important Thick-billed Parrot site saved. World Birdwatch,22(2).

Image credit

Thick-billed parrot portrait  
Thick-billed parrot portrait

© Rod Williams /

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