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Red-masked Parakeet
Aratinga erythrogenys (Lesson 1844)


Also known as: Cherry-headed Conure

Closely related to the Mitred Parakeet, this species is endemic to the arid Tumbesian zone of southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru. Adults are best distinguished from the Mitred Parakeet by the more solid and extensive red on the head, more extensive red in the underwing coverts, and smaller overall size. This species is considered near-threatened within its native range (Collar 1996). It was not mentioned by Hardy (1973) and was mentioned as "sporadically seen" in Southern California by Johnston and Garrett (1994).

The status of this species in Southern California is obscured by its similarity to A. mitrata; although the two species are readily distinguished given reasonable views, Southern California observers are understandably poorly aware of identification criteria. Single birds (at least one bearing a leg ring) were seen with Mitred Parakeet flocks in lower Zuma Canyon (Malibu), at Pt. Fermin (San Pedro), and at Rancho Los Alamitos (Long Beach). Subsequently, small flocks were found in Temple City and adjacent Monrovia, and in Redondo Beach. (Garrett 1997)

In California, this parakeet species has also experienced a population boom. Garrett (1997) reported the total to be 70 and Mabb (1997a) reported the San Gabriel Valley population to be 25. Now, the San Gabriel Valley population is estimated to be 130-180 birds and the total estimate for this species is 285-345 parakeets. Red-masked Parakeets appear to be the predominant Aratinga species in San Diego. (Mabb 2002)

Distribution in California: San Gabriel Valley and Redondo Beach areas of Los Angeles County; San Francisco and possibly San Diego areas (Garrett 1997); scattered observations elsewhere.

Habitat in California: Residential urban and suburban areas; usually in the same areas as Mitred Parakeets (Garrett 1997).

Other Naturalized Locations: Introduced to Florida and Grand Cayman Island, Greater Antilles, West Indies (Forshaw 2006)

Click an image below to view at a larger scale.

Red-masked Parakeet (Aratinga erythrogenys)
Photos this page courtesy of © Mark Bittner |

Native Range and Habitat: Occurs from Manabí, north-west Ecuador, south to Lambayeque and Cajamarca, north-west Peru, with the high Andes marking its easternmost limit, at least in Ecuador. There are very few records from the center of its range, in Guayas, El Oro and Azuay, Ecuador, which may effectively divide the population into two distinct subpopulations. The total population is unlikely to be smaller than 10,000, with the majority occurring in Ecuador. Though considered 'common' in parts of its range, there have been severe local declines.

Occurs in a range of habitats - from humid forest through deciduous forest, dry Acacia scrub to open, sparsely vegetated desert and intensely farmed areas to towns - but principally inhabits arid areas, from sea-level to 2,500 m, but most frequently below 1,500 m. (BirdLife International)

STATUS: Near Threatened -- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Nearly qualifies for listing as threatened under criteria C1+2a(i). (BirdLife International 2004).

Citation: BirdLife International 2004. Aratinga erythrogenys . In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. < >. Downloaded on 18 January 2007.

For more information, visit the Red-masked Parakeet - BirdLife Species Factsheet published by BirdLife International.


Description: Green overall; yellowish-green on lower breast and abdomen; forehead, lores, crown, eye area, cheeks, bend and edge of wings, outer under wing-coverts and thighs red; underside of flight and tail feathers olive-yellow; skin to eye ring whitish; beak horn-colored; iris orange-red; feet greyish flesh-color. Immatures may exhibit little to no red; iris dark.

Average Length: 13 inches

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