In my Costa Rican garden: Crimson-fronted Parakeet

Crimson-fronted Parakeet (Psittacara finschi): Perico frentirrojo; Veraguasittich; Conure de Finsch;

Visiting Central America for the first time? Simply by arriving at the airport in Alajuela, Costa Rica, and travelling on via the nearby capital, San José, you will almost immediately be able to add a ‘lifer’ to your list of bird sightings. The Crimson-fronted Parakeet (Psittacara finschi) is an even more abundant species than the White-crowned Parrot, the subject of my last post. It’s a noisy inhabitant of town centres (Turrialba too) throughout Costa Rica. These and other parakeets can be distinguished from parrots by their long, pointed tails.

Crimson-fronted Parakeet snacks on güitite berries at nearby Santa Rosa; photo by John Beer
Crimson-fronted Parakeet in the south of the country at San Vito; photo by Sean Beer

Like the White-crowned Parrot, this parakeet nests in cavities. However, it is a very social species and can be found roosting communally in many Costa Rican towns and cities. Nesting birds are easily found behind the CATIE buildings near Turrialba but flocks in flight can be seen and heard almost everywhere in our region, from higher elevations on the Turrialba Volcano right down to sea level on both coasts:

A pair of Crimson-fronted Parakeets at a nesting cavity at Cahuita on the Caribbean Coast; photo by John Beer

As the next photo shows, immature birds do not have the typical red forecrown. John noted that this individual was feeding on ants, several species of which typically inhabit the nodes of Costa Rica’s laurel tree (Cordia alliodora):

Immature Crimson-fronted Parakeet feeds on ants at Santa Rosa de Turrialba; photo by John Beer

Fortunately, this species seems not to be a common subject of the cage-bird trade, which unfortunately still flourishes here. The next photograph shows a pair of these noisy but alluring birds at Tausito near Pejibaye, not far from Turrialba

Cute but not to be imprisoned in a cage: Crimson-fronted Parakeet; photo by John Beer

Escaped birds of this species are now firmly established in Florida but are not yet accepted for bird count purposes by the American Birding Association. Americans should instead fly here to Costa Rica to see this attractive species in its native environment. Bienvenidos!

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