Thick-billed Parrot - Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha
November 25, 2008
I have a bit of an obsession with parrots that have adapted to temperate habitats. For example, I am fascinated by New Zealand's flightless, nocturnal parrot, the Kakapo; an extremely rare, large, stocky, green Psittaciforme that waddles through the moss covered undergrowth of New Zealand's forests. Thick-billed parrots aren't quite that unconventional when it comes to parrot behavior. They fly and are very social, gathering in large flocks. Their habitat preferences are the old growth conifer forests of northern Mexico, as their diet consists mainly of pine nuts. Thick-billed, along with the extinct Carolina Parakeet, are the only species of parrot whose natural distributions once included parts of the continental United States. Their numbers have always been strongest in the the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico, but until the mid-twentieth century the species still occurred in the mountains of southwest New Mexico and Arizona. Most likely these northern populations were extirpated due to heavy hunting. More recently their numbers in Mexico have been dropping dramatically due to massive logging in the Sierre Madre Occidental.