Campo Troupial - Icterus jamacaii
List of Birds

Site contents:
in Itapajé, Ceará,
100 km from Fortaleza.

The avifauna is listed in
Birds of NE Brazil.
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Threatened species
Many species of NE Brazil are threatened by extinction. Our reserve helps to protect some of them:
Birds of NE Brazil
in Caatinga, Cerrado,
and other habitats
Cactus Parakeet
Aratinga cactorum
Family: Psittacidae

Local subspecies: Aratinga cactorum caixana. RPPN Mãe-da-lua.

References: Hellmayr 1929; Pinto 1978.

Synonyms: Psittacus cactorumKUHL 1820;  Aratinga caixanaSPIX 1824.
Cactus Parakeet (Aratinga cactorum)
31/01/2006; Fazenda Canaã, Pentecoste, Ceará, Brazil. 200 mm f2.8 lens.
Figure 1. The Cactus Parakeet is quite common in rural Ceará, and can often be seen around fruit trees. The bird on the photo is eating cirigüelas, the fruits of Spondias purpurea, which are availabe from November/December to February, in most years.

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Cactus Parakeet (Aratinga cactorum)
08/12/2009; Mãe-da-lua reserve, Itapajé, Ceará, Brazil. 300 mm f2.8 lens.
Figure 2. Lateral view of the Cactus Parakeet.

For a photo of a Cactus Parakeet in flight, see this link of Arthur Grosset's site.

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Cactus Parakeet (Aratinga cactorum)
17/03/2012; Mãe-da-lua reserve, Itapajé, Ceará, Brazil. 300 mm f2.8 lens.
Figure 3. Nesting site of Aratinga cactorum.

For breeding, Cactus Parakeets dig cavities in termite nests on trees. The picture shows such a termite nest, situated in a jurema tree about 2.5 meters above the ground, in the lowland of Mãe-da-lua reserve. I took the foto when the bird was entering the cavity.

Adult parakeets seem to be afraid that they could get trapped in the nest by a predator. Like the woodpecker Celeus flavescens and the owl Megascops choliba, they leave their cavity and flee, when they feel that a danger approaches. This is safer for the bird, but it could also show a predator (e.g. primates, including humans) where exactly the eggs or the youngs are.

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Distribution: This Parakeet is endemic of NE Brazil, see for example this map of registers of the wikiaves website.

Habitat: Caatinga of all types, semiopen spaces, fruit plantations and gardens, and so on. Cerrado. Also areas with elevated humidity, like Serra de Baturité in Ceará.

Alimentation: Fruits, seeds, other vegetable matter.
See Melo Barros and Marcondes-Machado 2000.

Breeding: See figure 3. Nest and eggs were described in a publication by Naka 1997.

Conservation: The locals like to keep the Cactus Parakeet as a pet. The young birds are withdrawn from their nest before they can fly, and then sold, for example on the market in town. These birds can become very tame, and it is not uncommon to see a Cactus Parakeet living without any restraint in a house, as part of the family, so to say. But the tame "free" birds often die before they become old. A dog or cat may kill them, or someone may accidentally hurt them.

The illegal trade has greatly decimated the numbers of the parakeet in the wild, and threatens the survival of the species in many areas. Habitat destruction seems to be less of a problem. I do not know how much damage is done by the use of agrotoxics in fruit plantations.

Sounds: For sounds of the Cactus Parakeet, see Songs and calls.

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