The Red-masked Parakeet (Psittacara erythrogenys) is a medium-sized parrot from Ecuador and Peru. It is popular as a pet—known in aviculture as the Cherry-headed Conure or the Red-headed Conure—and considered the best talked of the conures.
Taxonomy and naming
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Red-masked Parakeets average about 33 cm (13 in) long, of which half is the tail. They are bright green with a mostly red head on which the elongated pale eye-ring is conspicuous; the nape is green. Also, the lesser and median underwing coverts are red, and there is some red on the neck, the thighs, and the leading edge of the wings. Juveniles have green plumage, until their first red feathers appear at around the age of four months.
Its call is two-syllabled, harsh and loud.
Clutches average 3 to 4 eggs and incubation is 23 or 24 days. Nests are usually made in tree cavities. Juvenile birds fledge after 50 days with green plumage.
It has been the tenth most common Neotropical parrot imported into the USA with over 26,000 parakeets checked in from 1981 to 1985. This bird was formerly more common in its limited range, and only fairly recently has been reclassified from a species of least concern to a species near threatened (1994).
Escaped cage birds are considered to be introduced in Spain. They are also found in Florida, Hawaii, and California, and make up most of the feral population in San Francisco that is documented in the film The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Judy Irving, based on the book of the same name by Mark Bittner. Although these birds reproduce in the wild, the Red-masked Parakeet is not considered established in North America. Breeding populations of feral parakeets have been observed in San Diego County, Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley, Orange County, California, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, Long Beach, Houston, Texas, and San Francisco. The birds have been observed feeding on the fruits of the cultivated tropical vegetation and nesting in the ubiquitous palm trees.
These feral parrots are also an invasive species in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. They have also recently been seen in Lima; those birds too are probably released pets.
- David Sibley (2000). The Sibley Guide to Birds. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-45122-6.
- Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol 4, Josep del Hoyo editor, ISBN 84-87334-22-9
- BirdLife International (2012). "Aratinga erythrogenys". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- DNA-sequence data require revision of the parrot genus Aratinga (Aves: Psittacidae) J.V. Remsen, Jr., Erin E. Schirtzinger, Anna Ferraroni, Luís Fábio Silveira & Timothy F. Wright
- Athan first = Mattie Sue (2010). Guide to Companion Parrot Behavior. Barron's Educational Series. p. 179. ISBN 0-7641-4213-5. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- Page on the Red-masked Parakeet from the Parrot Project
- Page on the "Cherry-headed Conure" at the International Conure Association website
- Site about the feral flock in San Francisco, with many photographs and much information
- Florida Breeding Bird Atlas: Red-masked Parakeet
- "Red-masked Parakeet - BirdLife Species Factsheet". BirdLife International (2008). Retrieved 3 January 2009.