Travel Ecuador : Bird watching : Birds :

Red-masked Parakeet

The dry forests of Cerro Blanco are a welcome oasis of vegetation after spending time in Guayaquil; Ecuador’s largest city. Tall, fat Ceibo trees adorn the rocky hills of this important reserve that protects a high number of endemic plant and bird species of the Tumbesian dry forests. One of these species is the Red-masked Parakeet, a beautiful bird that occasionally adorns the dry branches of the Ceibo trees like holiday ornaments.

Identification
A medium-sized dark green parakeet, the Red-masked Parakeet is most easily identified by the extensive amount of red on its head and face. No other bird within its range shares this feature. Although the Red-lored Parrot also occurs in some of the same forests, it doesn’t have near as much red on the head and is a chunky, short-tailed bird. The parakeet on the other hand, is an elegant, long tailed bird. These features also help separate it from another species of parakeet that shares its range, the Gray-cheeked Parakeet.

Behavior in Ecuador
Sharing the social behavior of other members of its family, the Red-masked Parakeet usually occurs in pairs that forage in flocks. Sticking together helps these parakeets avoid and confuse predators and find more food. Basically, with more eyes looking for predators, and the fruits and seeds that the parakeets feed upon, the more probable it is that both foe and food will be seen. Like many other species of frugivorous birds, the Red-masked Parakeet often wanders in search of erratic food sources. They also make seasonal movements to take advantage of trees that provide seeds during the wet and dry seasons.

Habitat and distribution in Ecuador
In Ecuador, the Red-masked Parakeet is a bird of dry and moist forests in the western part of the country. Although it can be seen in many areas near Guayaquil and is a conspicuous bird species, it has declined with the large amount of deforestation that has occurred in its range.