For the parrot lover, this is the biggest draw to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Some people call it the big parrot clay lick, on eBird it’s called Parrot Lick #1. It’s the larger one you see from the river while seated in a boat. You do get pretty close but to land would be too close and scare the birds away. This is a must for anyone staying at Napo Wildlife Center and will be a highlight of your trip!
This isn’t where you get huge life lists. There are 5 parrot species that visit the clay lick here (though you may get flyovers of other species) – Dusky-billed Parakeet, Blue-headed Parrot, Yellow-crowned Parrot, Mealy Parrot & White-eyed Parakeet. In the pictorial below, it should be pretty easy to pick them out so I am just going to post the photos in consecutive order to show the waves of parrots that flew in and out over around 40 minutes. It was a great day as they would land, eat clay, fly off and then perch in trees waiting to come back. Or the second waves could have been different birds. Still it was awesome!
The Black-headed Parrot (Pionites melanocephalus ; sometimes incorrectly Pionites melanocephala), also known as the Black-headed Caique, Black-capped Parrot or Pallid Parrot (for P. m. pallidus), is one of the two species in the genus Pionites of the Psittacidae family; the other species being the allopatric White-bellied Parrot.
I was extremely lucky to see one in the wild in Ecuador at a distance.
It is found in forest (especially, but not exclusively, humid) and nearby wooded habitats in the Amazon north of the Amazon River and west of the Ucayali River in Brazil, northern Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. It is generally fairly common and occurs in many protected areas throughout its range. I saw this one at the Canopy Tower of Napo Wildlife Center and the guide said we were very lucky as they are hard to spot! You could also try eco-lodges near Manaus and Iquitos.
The Red-bellied Macaw (Orthopsittaca manilatus), also known as Guacamaya Manilata, is a medium-sized, mostly green South American parrot, a member of a group of large Neotropical parrots known as macaws. It is the largest of what are commonly called “mini-macaws”. The belly has a large maroon patch which gives the species its name.
Red-bellied Macaw (Orthopsittaca manilata)
And since I couldn’t get a perched shot here’s one from Wikipedia.
They have quite a large range in in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela. I saw a pair flying overhead at Nariva Swamp while driving but by the time I pulled over, they were gone. I’ve seen them in several places such as Cristalino and near Napo Wildlife Center.
Depending on which birding field guide you have you may see these birds lumped together with Pyrrhura melanura as the nominate with these subspecies or as two separate species as per the title of this post.
P. m. berlepschi
P. m. chapmani
P. m. melanura
P. m. pacifica
P. m. souancei
I did see them in 3 separate locations in Ecuador so I know I have at least two varieties! The photos above were taken at Wildsumaco Lodge and were the only Maroon-tailed Parakeets I saw perched. I also saw them flying through trees at the Waterfall Trail in Mindo & from the canopy tower at Napo Wildlife center. The ones at Mindo and Rio Silanche are definitely the Choco Parakeet being the only species seen in the western side of the Andes (red). The ones above could possibly be P.m. souancei (dark green) or the nominate (lighter green). The ones at Napo were most likely Pyrrhura melanura. Splits are so confusing!
The Bronze-winged Parrot (Pionus chalcopterus) is a short-tailed stocky parrot found in forest and woodland in north-western South America. They are one of the easier parrots to find in their range.
They are found mostly in Ecuador & Colombia with a sparse population in Venezuela. I saw them just about everywhere – Umbrellabird Lodge flybys, Mindo‘s Waterfall Trail, Milpe Bird Sanctuary, Rio Silanche, Rio Blanco in Colombia near Manizales.
The Red-billed Parrot (Pionus sordidus) or Red-billed Pionus is a species of parrot in the Psittacidae family.
They can be found in humid subtropical forests in the Venezuelan Coastal Range, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and in the Andes from Colombia in north to Bolivia in south (though with significant gaps). I took these photos on the Mindo Waterfall Trail just outside of Mindo and I also saw some in El Dorado Reserve in Colombia.
The El Oro Parakeet, Conure D’Orcès, cotorra de El Oro, or perico de El Oro (Pyrrhura orcesi) is a species of parrot in the Psittacidae family, endemic to Ecuador. It is a relatively newly identified species, having been discovered in 1980.
The White-breasted Parakeet (Pyrrhura albipectus) or White-necked Parakeet, is an exquisite species of parrot in the Psittacidae family. They live in montane tropical forests in southern Ecuador and extreme northern Peru and normally stay within a flock between four and 20 parakeets.