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Orange-fronted parakeets

Spreads for web 1

By Robert Alison

Orange-fronted parakeets (Eupsittula canicularis) are colourful social Neotropical psittacids that are distributed from northern Mexico to Costa Rica. They regularly occur in flocks of up to 50 individuals that forage conspicuously in scattered or patchy trees along roads or forest edges bordering savannas. I have encountered them routinely in the Tarcoles River – Carara (Putarenas) region of Costa Rica. They are the most abundant psittacids on the Pacific Slope of Central America.

Unlike other Neotropical psittacids, which are generally inactive during the hottest part of the day, these parakeets are perky and energetic dawn until dusk, foraging noisily on Ficus, Burseria and various seeds and flowers of Gliricula and Combretum. I have found them to be tame and approachable. But from time to time, entire flocks scatter in frantic flight from foraging or loafing sites, while emitting harsh piercing chirps. Often this abrupt behaviour is caused by the approach of an avian predator. Continuous low chattering vocalisations betray the presence of loafing or foraging flocks where pairs emit a variety of chirrups and twitters.

These parakeets generally nest in the dry season, according to local residents of the Pacific Slope Costa Rica. The wettest month in the Costa Rican range of this species is October and the dry Season usually begins in January, when daytime temperatures peak around 30 degrees C. Nest cavities are excavated in trees by both pair members, but sometimes old woodpecker cavities are used.

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