June 19, 2010

Grey-cheeked Parakeets in Guayaquil, Ecuador

In September 30, 2008, an article appeared in the Urban Parrot Conservation section in Cityparrots.org stating that the IUCN lists the Grey-cheeked Parakeet (Brotogeris pyrrhoptera) as endangered. Birdlife International states that this "species qualifies as endangered because it has been affected by very rapid rates of population decline caused by trapping for the cagebird trade, plus habitat loss. Future population declines are projected to be slower, but still a serious cause for concern."

Cityparrots.org went on to mention that "with 59,320 birds reportedly imported by CITES countries between 1983-1988. In 1995, the wild population was estimated at 15,000 birds, principally in Ecuador. This represents a very crude decline of c.70% in 10 years, although it is still locally common in suitable habitat remnants."

The article continued stating that "several feral Brotogeris species do well in cities. The Brotogeris versicolurus subspecies have colonised several cities in North (mostly in Florida and California) and South America. Brotogeris tirica is also numerous in Sao Paulo, locally often referred to as maritacas."

"Cityparrots.org aims to incorporate native urban areas in parrot conservation. One major conglomerate in the range of the Grey-cheeked Parakeet is Guayaquil, the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador. Made curious by Forshaws' note that the Grey-cheeked Parakeet frequents the urban parks of Guayaquil [they] asked [their] friends from Jambeli's Foundation what they knew about the species in Guayaquil. Rafaela Orrantia replied by sending [them] several images and videos of this endangered parakeet visiting her backyard. She notes that the parakeet is very common in Guayaquil. The parakeets probably naturally colonized the city trough the "Chongón-Colonche" mountain range which has its beginning in the city."

"But not all is bliss. Guayaquil was not colonized by the Grey-cheeked Parakeet alone. Brotogeris versicolurus is now also commonly seen in the city and flocks with the native species. This raises all kinds of concerns. Being closely related the two species might interbreed, genetically weakening the species. More research is needed to see if hybrids of the two species are fertile and to what extend hybridisation occurs."

Additionally, "more pressing however is the competition between the two species. B. versicolurus is known to be a very potent urban colonizer. Which in time might out compete the Grey-cheeked Parakeet for which no data on urban colonization exists. Monitoring the population growth of both species would be important to assess the conservation status of B. pyrrhoptera in Guayaquil and if selective removal of B. versicolurus is necessary."

Link: Guayaquil, Ecuador on Google Maps

Sources: Cityparrots.org, Jambeli's Foundation, Birdlife International

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