Burrowing Parrot (Cyanoliseus patagonus)

Burrowing Parrot

[order] PSITTACIFORMES | [family] Psittacidae | [latin] Cyanoliseus patagonus | [authority] Vieillot, 1818 | [UK] Burrowing Parrot | [FR] Conure de Patagonie | [DE] Felsensittich | [ES] Loro Barranquero (Arg, Uy), Loro Barranquero | [NL] Holenparkiet | [copyright picture] Lynn M. Stone


Monotypic species


The Burrowing Parrot (Cyanoliseus patagonus) is a species belonging to the Psittacidae family. It is monotypic within the genus Cyanoliseus and mainly found in Argentina. A very much reduced population
still survives in Chile, and migration of some Argentinean populations to Uruguay has been reported for the winter months. Sometimes strong westerly winds bring some individuals as far as the Falkland Islands.This species is distributed in a particularly heterogeneous arid to semi-arid landscape, across an extensive 1,000,000 km2 range in Chile and Argentina. burrowing parrots breed in sandstone, limestone or earthen cliffs or ?barrancas? (gorges or ravines), where they excavate nest burrows and form colonies. The largest of such colonies is situated in El Condor, on the Atlantic coast of Patagonia. This colony covers 12km and contains 35,000 breeding pairs. Remarkably, this is the largest known colony of parrots in the world.

Physical charateristics

C.p. patagonus: both adults olive/brown head, neck, back and breast; lower back to tail and upper abdomen yellow; orange/red thighs and centre of abdomen; throat and breast grey/brown, white marks at bend of wing on breast; tail olive/green tinted with blue, undertail brown/grey. White bare eye-ring, eye pale yellow. Bill dark grey. C.p. conlara: both adults as in patagonus, but with darker breast. C.p. andinus: both adults duller than patagonus; little yellow on lower underparts; centre of abdomen dull orange/red; white markings on breast very faint. C.p. bloxami: both adults brighter yellow on lower underparts, brighter red on thighs and centre of abdomen, more extensive white on breast forming a wide band; larger in size.

Listen to the sound of Burrowing Parrot

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/PSITTACIFORMES/Psittacidae/sounds/Burrowing Parrot.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Nick Athanas

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 39 cm size max.: 52 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 50 days fledging max.: 60 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


South America : Southern Cone. It was recorded formerly in Central Chile from northern Los Lagos north to Acatama, but is now confined to few localities in the Andead foothills in (e.g.) Bio Bio. A very recent survey Consider the species in danger of extinction in 6 out of 12 regions of Chile. In Uruguay the species is considered scarce and sporadic.


It inhabits arid lowland and montane grassy shrubland, open dry woodlannd savanna, open Chaco plains along watercourses, and thorny scrub or columnar cacti, often with a sandy substrate, at elevations up to 2000 m.


The Burrowing Parrot has a monogamous mating system with very strong bi-parental care. Genetic testing has recently shown that this species is one of a few animals that is genetically monogamous in a socially monogamous mating system. Also, nest parasitism is not known to occur in this species.
It nests in large colonies constituting zig-zag shaped nests which interconnect and form elaborate labyrinths. These burrows are usually in sand-stone, limestone or earth cliffs, are situated over rivers or the ocean are often placed at considerable height. The species may only breed successfully in fairly large, dense colonies. A clutch of two to five eggs is laid directly onto the sandy floor of the nest chamber, where they are incubated by the female for around 24 days while the male provides food. Fledging takes place after around 60 days, after which time the young can leave the nest, but are believed to be fed by the parent birds for a further four months.

Feeding habits

The Burrowing Parakeet feeds mainly on seeds taken from the ground and from the vegetation, but it also consumes fruits and berries. It also takes grain crops, and sometimes considered as crop pest, hence persecuted from farmers.

Video Burrowing Parrot


copyright: Nick Athanas


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Drastic decline during 20th century in Chile so that subspecies bloxami is now considered at risk. Decline there and in parts of Argentina attributable to trapping for trade, hunting for food, conversion of grasslands to croplands and persecution as a crop pest.
Burrowing Parrot status Least Concern


The Burrowing Parakeet is seasonal migrant in southern parts of the range. Populations of Central Chile perform altitudinal movements. In other regions, the species is resident, with only local wandering according to the food resources.

Distribution map

Burrowing Parrot distribution range map

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