In my Costa Rican garden: White-crowned Parrot

White-crowned Parrot (Pionus senilis): Loro coroniblanco; Glatzenkopfpapagei; Pione à couronne blanche

Locals don’t even use the accepted Spanish name for this handsome blue-green bird. It’s neither a loro (standard Spanish for ‘parrot’) nor a lora (in our area of Costa Rica a large green snake), but simply a chucuyo.

The same name is employed for the only other medium-sized parrot likely to be found locally, the Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis). Locals would do likewise, I assume, if they were to encounter the White-fronted Parrot (Amazona albifrons), which is occasionally reported in the Turrialba area. The white on the forecrown of this Amazona species is quite restricted, while the white crown of our chucuyo extends to the middle of the crown, as seen below:

White-crowned Parrot in bright sunlight above the big La Muralla waterfall 2 km from San Antonio; photo by John Beer

Juveniles and immatures are more drably attired but are usually accompanied by adults. I have had juveniles being fed by adults (by regurgitation) in the garden and, if seen unaccompanied, there may be some initial confusion. The white on the crown does not always show, though it can be seen well enough on the immature but not brightly coloured young bird in the next photo, taken at Santa Rosa:

Immature White-crowned Parrot; photo by John Beer

Like most other parrots, White-crowneds nest in tree cavities, sometimes quite low down. I found one nest in a post at nearby San Diego that was only two feet off the ground. In the next photo a chucuyo investigates a cavity in John’s garden a few miles from me:

White-crowned Parrot in Santa Rosa; photo by John Beer

White-crowned Parrots often visit my garden in fairly large flocks of up to 20 birds. In flight they are very noisy but can be surprisingly hard to find once they land in the trees, where they feed quietly and are well camouflaged. They live an average of 25 years but, like other parrot species, will live to the ripe old age of 40 under favourable conditions. It’s hard to miss them in our area but visitors from abroad should be aware that the commonest bird of the parrot family here is actually a parakeet, the Crimson-fronted Parakeet, which will be the subject of my next post on the birds that regularly visit my garden.

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