Biome: Great Southwest
Biography: Thick-billed parrots are social birds, and live together in flocks all year. Their loud calls can be heard over a mile away. Thick-billed parrots require the specialized habitat of a mature pine-oak forest for nesting and food. These parrots build their nests in snags or old woodpecker holes which they enlarge by chewing the wood. Their thick bills shred pine cones to reach the seeds, their main source of food, but they will also crack open acorns and eat fruit. Their bright green color helps them to blend in with the pine needles.
Thick-billed parrots spend most of their time at higher elevations, from 3,900 to 11,500 feet. Although their range once included the mountains of southern Arizona and New Mexico, they are now found only in the mature pine-oak forests of northwestern Mexico. Loss of suitable habitat resulted in a drastic decline in their numbers and they were listed as endangered species in 1973. Along with the now extinct Carolina parakeet, thick-billed parrots are one of only two parrot species whose natural range once included the United States.