This brightly colored green and red parrot is the only parrot native to North America, and once made Arizona its home. They live in family groups that make up large noisy flocks. This makes them easy targets for predators, human as well as animal. Their main diet is pine nuts found in pinecones, which they deftly open with sharp shovel-like beaks. This animal is highly endangered but still found in the mountains south of the US/Mexican border where its habitat is threatened by logging and human encroachment.
Since the 1980s, the Arizona Game & Fish Department has coordinated captive breeding programs on behalf of the thick-billed parrot at several locations. In 1996, the Phoenix Zoo joined this conservation effort by providing a breeding facility located on the Arizona Trail.
This exhibit is unique in that it has specially designed artificial nest logs that have evaporative cooling. This has been crucial to the breeding program since the parrots breeding season is during the summer monsoon rains which happens to be the hottest time of the year in Phoenix. Since the construction of the nest logs in the new exhibit, we have had 4 parrots hatch and survive to adulthood.
Currently researchers are focusing on learning more about the natural history of these birds in Mexico before attempting reintroduction in Arizona.
You can support Thick-billed parrot conservation in several ways:
- Donate to the Zoo's Conservation Fund.
- Donate to Arizona's Heritage Fund. This provides Arizona Game and Fish with funding for projects involving nongame animals like the parrots. You can do this by checking the appropriate box on your tax return.
- We welcome donations of unopened green or brown pinecones as well as green branches from pine trees.
- The parrots are losing habitat due to logging. Recycling paper products could help reduce habitat loss. Every little bit does help!
- Your trip to the Zoo helps provide food for the animals. Come to the Zoo and buy a parrot lunch!