Sulphur-winged Parakeet

Sulphur-winged Parakeets (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) are common in the middle to upper elevation mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama. They are especially common in the Cordillera de Talamanca (Talamanca Mountains) in Costa Rica, which is where I spotted all of these Sulphur-winged Parakeets in May of 2007.

Sulphur-winged Parakeet (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) in an apple tree

The Sulphur-winged Parakeets were feeding on ripe apples in an orchard in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica. San Gerardo de Dota is at about 7000 feet (2134 m) in elevation, and to the delight of fruit-eating birds like Sulphur-winged Parakeets and tanagers, apples and other orchard fruits grow quite well there in the cool mountain cloud forest climate. Besides apples and other larger fruits, Sulphur-winged Parakeets also feed on small berries and seeds.

Sulphur-winged Parakeet (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) in a berry tree

Sulphur-winged Parakeets are medium-sized parrots, and their mostly green plumage has a fish-scaled appearance due to the lighter orangish to yellowish edges on their feathers. Sulphur-winged Parakeets have a curved, horn-colored bill, a whitish ring of bare skin around their eyes, a red ear-patch, a rust-colored tail, bluish wing feathers, and a distinctive band of sulfur-yellow on the wings. The sexes are similar.

Pair of Sulphur-winged Parakeets (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) in the treetops

Sulphur-winged Parakeets travel in small, noisy flocks, and most of them that I saw in the Costa Rican mountains were either flying overhead or perched in the towering treetops at the edge of the cloud forest. However, since apple trees are not very tall, I was able to see feeding Sulphur-winged Parakeets at eye-level in the orchards of San Gerardo de Dota.

Sulphur-winged Parakeet (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) eating an apple

The Sulphur-winged Parakeets would bite a chunk out of an apple, deftly nibble the sweet flesh off of the apple chunk and then spit out the apple skin. After the Sulphur-winged Parakeets were done with the apples and had flown off, eager Blue-gray Tanagers and Flame-colored Tanagers would move in to feast on the freshly exposed flesh of the parakeet-damaged apples. Fortunately, there were more than enough apples for both birds and humans there in the orchards of San Gerardo de Dota.

Note: Like many species, Sulphur-winged Parakeets have multiple common names. Because the yellow chemical element Sulfur has two alternate spellings, sulphur and sulfur, wild Sulphur-winged Parakeets are also known as Sulfur-winged Parakeets. In the pet trade, many kinds of small parrots from Central and South America are referred to as Conures, so although they are relatively rare in captivity, pet Sulphur-winged Parakeets are also known as Sulphur-winged Conures or Hoffmann's Conures.