Psittacus monachus Boddaert, 1783, Uruguay. Four subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Quaker parrot, gray-breasted parakeet; French: Conure veuve; German: Mцnchsittich; Spanish: Cotorra Argentina.
11.4 in (29 cm); 4.5–4.9 oz (127–140 g). Small to mediumsized bird with mostly green plumage and gray or dull white face, cheeks, and throat. Long, green tail feathers; pale orange or yellow bill.
M. m. monachus: southeast Brazil to Uruguay and northeast Argentina. M. m. calita: western Argentina. M. m. cotorra: northwest Argentina and south Bolivia to Paraguay and south Brazil. M. m. luchsi: central Bolivia; probably separate species. Feral population in many locations, including North America and Europe.
In central Bolivia, in riverine vegetation in arid scrublands near cliff-faces in intermontane valleys (M. m. luchsi); elsewhere, dry semi-open lowlands in savanna woodland, gallery forest, dry Acacia scrublands, palm groves, pasturelands or cultivation, and urban parks or gardens; often prevalent near human habitation.
Sedentary, but some localized, seasonal movements at fringes of range. Noisy and highly gregarious; flocks of 10–100 or more always in the vicinity of conspicuous communal nests serving as foci for daily activities. Wary when away from shelter; “sentinel” birds sit atop nearby trees to warn feeding flock of approaching danger, and when disturbed all rise into the air, screeching loudly; intruder at nest is watched intently and in silence for some time before birds rise into the air and circle overhead to the accompaniment of loud screeching; swift flight usually low to the ground; daytime resting and nighttime roosting in nests throughout the year.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Diet mainly seeds of grasses and herbs, also nuts, fruits, berries, leaf buds, blossoms, and insect larvae; seeds of thistles important during breeding season; seeds of Celtis tala and palm nuts also favored; fond of cultivated grain and fruits.
Monogamous. Breeding season October–March. Nest unique among parrots: large, bulky structure of dry twigs placed in topmost branches of tree, especially introduced eucalypti, or sometimes in transmission tower, pylon, windmill, or under roof of building. Single compartment nests occupied by solitary pairs, but mostly large, communal nests with multiple compartments for many pairs, and probably added to over many years. In central Bolivia, nests of M. mluchsi are not communal, but often immediately adjacent to each other, and placed in crevices in cliff-faces. Average clutch seven eggs, but sometimes up to 11 eggs; in captivity incubation lasts 24 days and nestling period about six weeks.
Generally common, locally abundant; benefiting from planting of introduced eucalypts on treeless grasslands; expanding range and increasing numbers. Listed on CITES Appendix II.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Widely persecuted as serious pest in orchards and croplands. Exported in large numbers for live-bird market, but potential as pest in importing countries.
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