Paroaria dominicana is monotypic, and endemic to north-eastern Brazil (Hellmayr 1938). RPPN Mãe-da-lua.
Synonyms: Loxia dominicana LINNAEUS 1758;
Figure 1. The Red-cowled Cardinal feeds on seeds, and also likes fruits. Here, it came to eat cirigüelas, from a tree in the yard of my farmhouse. Rudolpho Von Ihering considered this little bird "together with the Campo Troupial, ...the most beautiful living adornment of the region" (Von Ihering 2002, p. 230. Translation by hr.)
Habitat and endemism: The Red-cowled Cardinal occurs in semi-open areas, in farms, in gardens, and so on. In Mãe-da-lua reserve, for example, Paroaria dominicana is common around my house and around the water reservoirs, which are semi-open environments. I have not yet seen Red-cowled Cardinals in arboreal Caatinga or other types of forest. This is more or less in line with the habitat description in Ridgely and Tudor 2009. Since semi-open spaces are very common in the Northeast, it can be assumed that habitat destruction is not a threat in this case.
Paroaria dominicana is an endemic taxon of the Northeast, but not of the Caatinga. I noted the species in Cerrado farmland in Piauí, and there are numerous other registers from non-Caatinga areas of the Northeast (Farias et al. 2005, and others).
Conservation: In rural areas, cage birds can be seen in many, many houses. This deplorable practice is part of the northeastern culture. Thus, Red-cowled Cardinals held in captivity are a common sight, and in many areas, the species is becoming rare (Ridgely and Tudor 2009).
On the weekend market in Itapajé, every saturday, there is also a small fair of native birds, which can be bought with or without cage. This trade with wild animals is forbidden by law, but continues unabated and openly, before the eyes of police, the authorities and the general public.To top of page
Figure 2.To top of page
Figure 3. Juvenile Red-cowled Cardinals are brown-cowled. They rapidly acquire adult size, and not everybody realizes that they are juveniles. I even heard people saying that the brown ones must be the females.To top of page