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Yellow-Eared Parrot: Why is it endangered?

Yellow-eared Parrots are the largest species of parrot in terms of body size and can be found in many different habitats, including dense forests, scrublands, dry woodlands, and even swamps.

  • Status: Endangered
  • Known as: Yellow-eared Parrot
  • Estimated numbers left in the wild: 1,500

These parrots are typically nocturnal animals who come out to hunt during the night, returning back to their roosts early in the morning. They use their powerful beaks for breaking into nuts and seeds as well as opening up fruits to eat!

They are considered an important part of nature because they help pollinate plants by spreading pollen from one plant to another with their feathers.

Yellow Birds live on average for about 25 years, but some have lived upwards of 50 years in captivity. These parrots are a species of parrot native to Australia that is currently endangered, with only about 500 of its species left in the wild.


Yellow-Eared Parrot in Tree
Source: Shutterstock

The Yellow-eared Parrot is a large green bird with a black beak and patches of yellow feathers on the face that are vaguely reminiscent of ears. It is a strikingly handsome animal.

The bird is about 40 centimeters long on average and weighs 285 grams. It does poorly in captivity and thus is seldom taken from the wild for the illegal pet trade, though it is hunted for food. Unusually, its calls sound similar to those of geese.

See Related: These Are 13 of the Longest Living Animals on Earth

Anatomy and Appearance

Yellow Eared Parrot Premium Photo on Our Endangered World

This threatened species is the largest species of parrot in terms of body size. These birds are also characterized by having some of the longest wing lengths, which makes them great at soaring and gliding.

They are the only parrot species in which both sexes have yellow on their chests. They are sexually dimorphic, meaning that males are larger than females.

These parrots have stout bills and short legs, making them different from other species of parrots. Yellow-eared Parrots’ feet and wings give the bird more climbing ability than other parrot species.


African savanna landscape with wildlife grazing in the distance.

This parrot species is found only in Columbia and Ecuador, in the high Andes, where the also endangered wax palm grows in the cloud forest. The bird may also possibly be extinct in Ecuador.

Yellow-eared Parrot Habitat

Pair of Parrots

These birds depend on the highly endangered wax palm for much of their life cycle. Wax palm fruit is one of the principal foodstuffs consumed by these parrots, though they will also eat other fruits and seeds, plus bark, buds, and ferns.

They also nest in the trees, seeking those with hollow trunks at a height up to 30 meters above the forest floor. They live in the cloud and elfin forests high in the cordilleras of the nations they inhabit.

Yellow-eared Parrot Mating Habits

Beautiful parrot perched on a branch
Pascale Gueret / Adobe Stock

These birds seem somewhat social, gathering in small flocks of one or two dozen individuals at some time. Several pairs of parrots may also cooperate in rearing their chicks, increasing the chances of chick survival. The birds are monogamous despite their colonial habits. Parents may raise to two broods annually, perhaps assisted by the species’ “brood-helper” adaptation.

Each generation is about three years, and as more birds mature, the recovery rate may also increase, though recovery is fragile due to their dependence on the slow-growing wax palm.

Yellow-eared Parrot Facts

Here are the interesting facts about this bird species.

  • These parrots are the biggest species of parrots when it comes to size and may be found in a variety of locations, including dense forests, scrublands, dry woodlands, and even swamps.
  • Nocturnal creatures come out to hunt at night, returning to yellow-eared parrot nests early in the morning.
  • They have a strong beak for prying open fruits and cracking nuts and seeds.
  • They are an essential component of the environment since they assist in controlling insect populations.
  • The parrot usually spends most of their lives in one environment until they reach sexual maturity.

See Related: Forest Owlet

Conservation Status

Yellow-Eared Parrot Eating
Source: Shutterstock

The Yellow-eared Parrot is currently considered to be an endangered species. This means that these endangered parrot species are at a high risk of becoming extinct in the wild in the near future. There are many different reasons why the parrot is endangered, including the Yellow-eared parrot’s habitat loss and deforestation.

Also hunting and trapping climate change and residential and commercial development.

See Related: Most Interesting Birds in the World


cruel animals

Habitat destruction is the source of this parrot’s troubles, since it requires the wax palm for nesting, and will not use any other tree.

This parrot is one of the only endangered animals in the world whose main problems stem from religion. The wax palm leaves and trees are singled out for felling in the region due to devout Catholics harvesting the fronds for use in Palm Sunday processions and celebrations.

The parrot has also been hunted for food, especially in Ecuador, adding further to the pressures that human activities thrust upon the species. Logging threatens wax palms as well, and cattle graze on young wax palms, making recovery even more difficult.

Conservation efforts

multiracial human come to build hands in shape of heart to protect the environment

The Yellow-eared Parrot is a partial success story in the conservation sphere, with the yellow-eared parrot population currently at around 1,500 individuals after dropping to a low of 212. Restoration of wax palms, providing artificial nest boxes, protection of existing stands, and habitat restoration.

Also reintroduction of the parrots to various areas, and the creation of ecological corridors by a league of conservation organizations – including the American Bird Conservancy, ProAves, and the Loro Parque Fundacion – has enabled this inspiring rebound.

Environmental education efforts directed towards limiting the use of wax palm fronds in Palm Sunday parades have also borne fruit, and efforts are ongoing.


bulbul bird held by human hands

Do you know of or are you a part of an organization that works to conserve the Yellow-eared Parrot, then please contact us to have it featured on Our Endangered World.

Final Thoughts

Yellow-eared Parrots are a species of parrot that is currently endangered. They have been hunted for food, especially in Ecuador and logging threatens wax palms, as well as cattle, graze on young wax palms making recovery even more difficult. The parrots will usually spend the majority of their lives in one sort of environment until they reach sexual maturity.

There are conservation organizations that work to protect endangered species by raising awareness about how pivotal it is not to use Palm Sunday parades with Wax Palms fronds among devout Catholics because this is where most threats stem from.

Educating people has helped decrease usage but there’s still much progress needed before this species can be considered safe.


What is Yellow-eared Parrot?

They are fascinating species of parrot that are considered endangered. Yellow-eared Parrots have the largest body size for a species of parrot and can be found in many different habitats, including dense forests, scrublands, dry woodlands, and even swamps.

They primarily come out to hunt at night before returning to their roosts early in the morning. This parrot use their powerful beaks for breaking into nuts and seeds as well as opening up fruits to eat!

Why is Yellow-eared Parrot endangered?

They are critically endangered because of habitat loss, deforestation, increased hunting and trapping, climate change.

How can I help protect Yellow-eared Parrots from extinction?

You can help Yellow-eared Parrots from extinction by doing the following:
– Signing petitions and sending letters to your representatives
– Writing blogs about Yellow-eared Parrots and websites about this creature
– Donating to charities working for this parrot’s conservation and wax palm conservation (and making them more of a priority) such as the World Land Trust, where they work with local communities on conservation projects of all sizes or World Wide Fund which is known for its “Save Animals” campaign which encourages people to reduce their carbon footprint in order to save our planet’s wildlife.

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