Thick-Billed Parrot

   Expedition Photography In Search of the  Thick-Billed Parrot

Mexico Thick-Billed Parrot
Thick-Billed Parrot

A hundred years ago, huge flocks of Thick-billed parrots filled the skies in the American Southwest on their yearly migrations from Mexico to the north, where they nested in the piņon forests of Arizona and New Mexico.
Hunters found great sport in shooting them out of the sky, sometimes for food and sometimes for their feathers, but more often for the hunters' amusement. Today, these parrots are rarely if ever seen north of the Rio Grande.


Species is immediately threatened with extinction.

In the Mexican state of Chihuahua, in the Sierra Madre Occidental, there still exist areas of pristine old growth forest habitat where the parrots come every spring to nest. Only a few hours from the city of Chihuahua the visitor can experience the delight of their calls in the early mornings, as they leave their nests to search for food.

North America map

Mexico map

Thick-billed parrots, Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha, live in the pine-oak forests of Mexico at elevations of 1500-3000 meters (5000-10,000 ft). These parrots once lived in Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, but there have been no confirmed sightings in the U.S. since the 1930's.
The thick-billed parrots have a red patch on the forehead and yellow feathers under the wings. Their diet consists of pine seeds (pinyon nuts), agave flowers and fruits, and acorns.
During the 1700's the Thick-billed parrot ranged from Western U.S. to Venezuela. During the 1800's their range decreased due to habitat loss, dramatic increase in hunting for sport and food, and loss of nesting sites. Presently Thick-billed parrots are confined to Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range of Mexico and limited breeding in special facilities.

  Thick-Billed Parrot

In late April of 2000 personnel from InkaNatura Travel explored the area, and were able to sight a total of 14 parrots, even though it was very early in the season. There are over 800 recently active nests that have been counted in this forest, near the tiny community of Vallecito.


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