Parrots in Peril: Paul Toyne, Jeremy Flanagan and Cristina Galvez
High levels of forest loss threatens Golden-plumed Conure
The Golden-plumed Conure (Leptopsittaca branickii) is affected by the loss and degradation of up to 90% of its habitat in Colombia.
Project progress: The World Parrot Trust supported the work of the Parrots in Peril team in the early 1990s, to study the distribution, status and ecology of these threatened conures. The World Parrot Trust supported research that aimed to:
- Ascertain that Podocarpus National Park is a key site for the conservation of three endangered species
- Assess the effectiveness of the park as a protected area by studying threats to its integrity (ie: gold mining)
- Gather basic biological information pertinent to the conservation of the parrots
Outcomes: The Parrots in Peril team learned that the range for these species is wider than previously thought. This critical work also underlined the importance of Podocarpus National Park for all of the threatened species, the Golden-plumed Conure (Leptopsittaca branickii), the White-breasted Conure (Pyrrhura albipectus), and the Red-faced Parrot (Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops).
Wild population: 2500 – 10,000
Where found: Scattered throughout patchy ranges in Andes highlands of all three ranges in Colombia; also Ecuador to S Peru.
History: The Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii) has a wide but scattered distribution in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Its decline has been considerable in Colombia and Ecuador, and in Peru in the past it has been stable but now habitat destruction threatens the population further (H. Lloyd in litt. 2007). Within its range, it is found in local pockets and considered nomadic (Fjelds and Krabbe 1990, Collar et al 1992), making it difficult to study, which is why it is a poorly known species.
- Large-scale habitat loss and fragmentation, with 90-93% of forest lost in Colombia
- Increased susceptibility to parasites and disease in palms
- Persecution as crop pest
- Trapping (local) for wild bird trade
- Loss of wax palms
- Burning for agriculture, logging, narcotics and mining
Ecology: The Golden-plumed Conure is found from 2400-3400m (7872-11,152 ft) in temperate forest, elfin woodland, cloud forest and treeline shrubbery. Birds feed on Podocarpus cone seeds, other seeds, Ficus and maize. They are generally seen in noisy and conspicuous flocks outside the breeding season. Birds make daily altitudinal movements, upland, returning to lower forests to roost.