Parakeets mostly live in habitats where the green color of their plumage predominates. Native forests that look like a habitat for parakeets do not exist on the central coast of Peru, which is one of the driest regions in the world.
What most resembles the habitat of parakeets are the corridors of desert scrub that grows along rivers that hurry down from the Andes. In Lima or in the arid central coast of Peru there were never parakeets, until …
Parakeets in Lima
There are 51 species of parrots, macaws, and parakeets known to occur in Peru. Although these are very good flyers, they generally do not venture through regions without vegetation such as those surrounding the city of Lima. Thus, the 4 new parakeets now residents in Lima arrived helped by the hand of man.
Our desire to have them as pets creates a business opportunity for hunters and sellers. This is how, in an “involuntary” way, parakeets and other wildlife arrive in cities where they escape or are released and now live in the middle of the city among many people, cars, noise, pollution, exotic trees on which they feed, and utility cables.
It is difficult for these new residents in Lima to go unnoticed if they are nearby, as they are boisterous. Seeing them in flight is easy, but perched on a tree can be a challenge due to the green of their plumage. Here are the four parakeets resident in Lima.
1. Pacific Parrotlet (Forpus coelestis)
Measurements: ~ 12.5 cm (5 “). The Pacific Parrotlet is the size of a sparrow and is green with blue on the back and on the wings (male). The female is almost all green. Originally they come from the arid scrub of the Pacific coast of Peru and Ecuador where it is common. In the city of Lima, they are usually seen in pairs looking for food from the ground to any height of a tree. They nest in any type of cavities. Photo: Miguel Moran.
2. The Canary-winged Parakeet (Brotogeris versicolorus)
Measurements: ~ 22 cm (8.6 “). The Canary-winged Parakeet is green, with a pointed tail. When it is perched it only shows a yellow stripe on the wing. In flight shows a multicolored combination of blue, white, and yellow feathers on the wing. The Canary-winged Parakeet comes from the Amazon rainforest where it is found in forests along the Amazon River and fluvial islands. In Lima, he is found in bustling flocks. The Canary-winged Parakeet has also been established as a wild population in cities in Puerto Rico, and parts of California and Florida in the United States. Photo: Miguel Moran.
3. Dusky-headed Parakeet (Aratinga weddellii)
Measurements: ~ 25.5 cm (10 “). The Dusky-headed Parakeet is green with a gray head, pale eye, and pale bare skin around the eye. The tail is long and pointed with a black beak. The Dusky-headed Parakeet comes from the Amazon rainforest where it is common. In the city of Lima, they are seen in pairs or in small flocks but they are rare. It has the most distinctive high-pitched vocalization than that of the other three parakeets. Photo: Miguel Moran.
4. Red-masked Parakeet (Psittacara erythrogenys)
Measurements: ~ 30 cm (12 “). The natural habitat of the Red-masked Parakeet is the low dry forest of southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru. Their populations have declined markedly in their original range due in part to hunting for the pet trade. The Red-masked Parakeet is the most common species in Lima and it sometimes gathers in large flocks. These flocks also include some individuals of similar species of parakeet such as the Scarlet-fronted Parakeet (Psittacara waglerii), Mitred Parakeet (Psittacara mitratus) and White-eyed Parakeet (Psittacara leucophthalmus). Photo: Miguel Moran.
Since when are these Parakeets in Lima?
Even before the pet trade existed, visitors from the various regions of Peru brought parrots and parakeets to the capital city as pets, on their own initiative. The flow of animals to Lima increased when the legal and illegal pet trade began. Bird enthusiasts have reported flocks of Canary-winged Parakeets as far back as for about 40 years.
Current Trade of Parakeets
If the demand for wild animals continues in the City of Lima, it is very likely that bird smuggling will continue. Apart from the traditional modes of commercialization, new means of commercialization have also appeared, such as social networks and through the Internet. Government agencies monitor and control wildlife trade and make frequent inspections and arrests of smugglers.
Where can we find them?
We can find them in parks and gardens in Lima. I’ve seen them from Cieneguilla, southeast of Lima, to coastal areas near the ocean. Something of note is that there seem to be seasonal movements based on food availability. For example, in Miraflores, where I live, these parakeets appear in flocks from November to March to feed on the fruits and seeds of exotic and native trees such as the Hawaiian Molle (Schinus terebinthifolius) and fig trees of the genus Ficus. Perhaps they also visit feeders in gardens where they are fed.
The truth is that these four parakeets arrived in Lima and have added the green color to the traditional colors of vermillion flycatchers, doves, bananaquits, and dozens of other resident birds of the city.
Have you seen some of these parakeets where do you live?
Text and Photos by Miguel Moran.
For more information about each of these parakeets visit PeruAves.org in the following links: