I’ve been involved in a number of field research efforts, and so am somewhat familiar with the difficulties inherent in funding and implementing conservation work. However, I must admit that this situation is baffling – a recovery plan has not yet been formulated for the Thick Billed Parrot (Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha), despite the fact that the bird has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since the law’s inception in 1973!
Help for the US’s Last Native Parrot?
The Thick Billed Parrot is the only remaining Psittacine native to the US Mainland. The other, the Carolina Parakeet, was hunted to extinction in the early 1900’s. With less than 3,000 individuals surviving in the wild, this green and red parrot may be headed for a similar fate if remedial action is not undertaken soon.
To that end, the conservation organization WildEarth Guardians has filed suit against Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, seeking to compel the implementation of a recovery plan. Let’s hope for a “parrot-friendly” outcome!
Wild and Captive Status
Thick Billed Parrots regularly ranged into central Arizona and New Mexico until the early 1900’s, and sporadically until the mid 1960’s. Today they are virtually unknown within US borders. A reintroduction plan instituted by the state of Arizona was not successful.
Although far from common in captivity, the birds do breed well when properly provided for… a group I’ve watched for years is a star attraction at the Queens Zoo in New York City. Private keepers have had some success with this species as well, and even provided several of the individuals released in Arizona.
Please see The USA’s “Other” Parrot for more information on this fascinating bird (it forages in the snow!).
Please visit the WildEarth Guardians Website for more on the group’s work with Parrots, Jaguarundis, Tortoises and other animals.
Thick-billed Parrots image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Paul Reynolds and Snowmanradio