Aratinga holochlora

The Green Parakeet is a long, slim parrot, part of a complex whose taxonomy is puzzling (Forshaw 1973, Oberholser 1974, Howell and Webb 1995, Am. Ornithol. Union 1998). This parakeet squeals as it flies, but otherwise is more secretive than other parrots as it merges into green foliage. These gregarious birds are probably the parrots which consumed a strawberry harvest at Combs, Texas in 1911 (Oberholzer, 1974). R. J. Fleetwood was the first to document the presence at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge of a Green Parakeet in October 1960. Oberholser (1974, p. 432) said this species was the most likely native parrot to invade Texas in numbers.

DISTRIBUTION: The Green Parakeet ranges from central Veracruz to northern Tamaulipas and eastern Nuevo Leon (Mexico; Howell and Webb 1995). It nests in Texas from the Gulf of Mexico on the Rio Grande delta (latilong 25097) to Mission (26098-B3) and ranges as far north as Kendall County (29098; Eubanks 1989, HHB).

SEASONAL OCCURRENCE: Green Parakeets are resident in south Texas (Lockwood and Freeman 2004). They make long foraging flights for foods such as berries. They usually congregate in large flocks during winter. TBBA breeding dates were from March 6 to mid-July.

BREEDING HABITAT.  Green Parakeets prefer nesting in cavities in dead Canary Island Palms rather than dead Washingtonian Palms. These parakeets often colonize Canary Island Palms, although in Washingtonian Palms and other trees, they usually nest as single pairs in woodpecker cavities and in other nooks and crannies. The abundance of available Canary Island Palm nest sites after the 1983 freeze and the deforestation of Tamaulipas may have been responsible for the sudden increase in south Texas Green Parakeets.

Atlasers found pairs of Green Parakeets nesting in Washingtonian Palm cavities in Southmost and East Brownsville (25097) and in cavities in Canary Island Palms in Mercedes and Pharr (26097 and 26098).

Brad McKinney (pers. comm.) made an intensive survey of Green Parakeets in Cameron County (25097 and 26097) in July, 1995. He located 18 active nest sites and 28 pairs of breeding Green Parakeets in Brownsville. He also received reports of seven active Green Parakeet nests in McAllen (Hidalgo County (26098-B2).

STATUS: The Green Parakeet population has expanded in south Texas since the deforestation of Tamaulipas forced parrots to seek large trees and palms elsewhere. The freeze of 1983 killed Canary Island Palms making them readily available as nest sites. McKinney conservatively estimated Green Parakeet winter numbers as: Brownsville 200, Harlingen 60, and San Benito 40. My estimates for Hidalgo County are McAllen 200, and Mission 200 for a total of at least 700 Green Parakeets in south Texas. Most parrot students in south Texas believe the Green Parakeet occurs naturally in the Rio Grande valley (Waker and Chapman 1992).

Text by Harold H. Burgess (Posted with updates 2007)

Texas Breeding Bird Atlas map

Literature cited.

American Ornithologists’ Union. 1998. Checklist of North American birds, 7th ed. Am, Ornithol. Union, Washington, DC.

Eubanks, T. L., Jr. 1989. TOS Seasonal sightings – Fall. Bull. Texas Ornithol. Soc. 37(6).

Forshaw,  J. M. 1973. Parrots of the world. Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, Australia.

Howell, S. N. G. and S. Webb. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, New York.

Lockwood, M. W. and B. Freeman. 2004. The TOS handbook of Texas birds. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

Oberholser, H. C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Walker, S. and  J. Chapman. 1992. Valley of  the parrots. Texas Parks Wildl. Dept,,  Austin.

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