Bald Parrot Pyrilia aurantiocephala
(aka Pionopsitta aurantiocephala)
Bald Parrot, Thaimaçu, Pará, Brazil, April 2003 - click for larger image

Thaimaçu, Pará, Brazil
April 2003

The Bald Parrot caused a sensation when it was described in 2002 mainly because it is hard to believe that such a large and colourful bird could have escaped the notice of the world.

Bald Parrot, Thaimaçu, Pará, Brazil, April 2003 - click for larger image In fact, it had been noticed but it was assumed that they were immature Vulturine Parrots Pionopsitta vulturina which were to be seen flying in flocks separated from adults.

The description was published in The Auk 119(3):815-819, 2002 and is entitled "Description of a New Species of Pionopsitta (Aves: Psittacidae) Endemic to Brazil. The authors are Renato Gaban-Lima, Marcos A. Raposo and Elizabeth Höfling.

A copy of this paper is available at http://www.scricciolo.com/Pionipsitta%20aurantiocephala.pdf It includes a map showing the distribution of Bald Parrot in the lower Madeira and upper Tapajós rivers and specifically in the São Benedito and Cururu tributaries of the Teles Pires river.

Bald Parrot, Thaimaçu, Pará, Brazil, April 2003 - click for larger image Not only did the authors find that specimens had well-developed gonads and a well-ossified skull indicating that they were adult birds but they also studied museum specimens of Vulturine Parrot which showed all stages of plumage development but none which resembled the Bald Parrot.

It appears to inhabit gallery forest and "campinarana" white-sand soil forest of which there is quite an expanse near the Thaimaçu Lodge and which probably links up with the white-sand area near the Serra de Cachimbo that can be seen from the Cuiabá - Santarém road.

It is a strikingly coloured parrot and, were it not for its bald head could be classified as very attractive.

Bald Parrot, Thaimaçu, Pará, Brazil, April 2003 - click for larger image I have included 3 photos of birds in flight and, while the photos are not technically good, they do show the brilliant colours particularly the scarlet of the underwing coverts.

The final photograph is of the fruits that the birds, a flock of about 20, were eating in the late afternoon from a tree close to the lodge on the left bank of the São Benedito River. There was only a thin outer layer of the fruit that was being eaten.

We also came across smaller flocks on the right bank of the São Benedito River.

Jeremy Minns recorded the birds as they were feeding.

Bald Parrot, Thaimaçu, Pará, Brazil, April 2003 - click for larger image
Bald Parrot, Thaimaçu, Pará, Brazil, April 2003 - click for larger image
Bald Parrot, Thaimaçu, Pará, Brazil, April 2003 - click for larger image
Bald Parrot, Thaimaçu, Pará, Brazil, April 2003 - click for larger image
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