The Green Cheeked Conure (Pyrrhura molinae, family Psittacidae) - previously known as Molina's conure - is a long-tailed, small- to mid-sized New world parrot native to South America in southern Brazil, eastern Bolivia, northwestern Argentina and northwestern Paraguay at elevations up to 3000 meters. P. molinae weigh from 60 to 90 grams and measure 25 centimeters long, with dark-grey to blackish heads, green cheeks, brown chest, white eye rings, gray beaks, dark gray legs and a completely maroon tail. In captivity, they are engaging, curious, playful pets with big, scrappy personalities.
It is very similar to the Maroon Conure (Pyrrhura frontalis); recent DNA analysis suggests they may in fact be the same species.
Habitat and Ecology
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Pyrrhura molinae
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pyrrhura molinae
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
The green-cheeked parakeet or green-cheeked conure (Pyrrhura molinae) is a small parrot of the genus Pyrrhura, which is part of a long-tailed group of the New World parrot subfamily Arinae. This type of parrot is generally called a conure in aviculture. It is native to the forests of South America.
The green-cheeked parakeet is typically 26 cm (10 in) long and weighs 60 to 80 g. It is mainly green, with a brown/black/grey crown, white periophthalmic rings, green cheeks, blue primary wing feathers, a grey beak, and its long pointed tail is mostly maroon. It has short transverse striations on its breast and a red abdominal area. Males and females have an identical external appearance.
- Pyrrhura molinae, (Massena & Souance 1854)
- P. m. australis, Todd 1915
- P. m. flavoptera, Maijer, Herzog, Kessler, Friggens & Fjeldsa 1998
- P. m. hypoxantha,(Salvadori 1899)
- P. m. molinae, (Massena & Souance 1854)
- P. m. phoenicura, (Schlegel 1864)
- P. m. restricta, Todd 1947
P. m. sordida naturally occurs as a common green morph or as a rare yellow morph (which however is more frequent in captivity). The yellow morph is also called the yellow-sided conure and was once erroneously considered to be a separate species, P. hypoxantha. As P. hypoxantha was described before P. m. sordida the older name goes first, therefore P. m. sordida is called P. m. hypoxantha these days.
The green-cheeked parakeet is similar to the maroon-bellied parakeet (P. frontalis), and formerly there have been speculations that they were conspecific. It is also similar in appearance to the blaze-winged parakeet and the black-capped parrot.
Distribution and habitat
The green-cheeked parakeet occurs in west-central and southern Mato Grosso, Brazil, northern and eastern Bolivia, northwestern Argentina, and western Paraguay. Its habitat is forests and woodland, where it usually forms flocks of 10 to 20 individuals at treetop level, or larger flocks where there is more food. It is also emerging as a popular pet for families and individuals.
The green-cheeked conure eats various seeds and fruits. The average clutch is 4–6 eggs. Average incubation is 24 days, varying from 22 to 25 days. They are the quietest of the conures and can learn tricks and have a limited vocabulary, with extensive training.
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Green-cheeked parrots are common in aviculture and are popular companion parrots. They are playful, affectionate and intelligent, known as having a "big personality in a small body". They can learn to talk, albeit with a limited vocabulary and a gravelly voice. They like to be held (although some like it more than others) and can learn tricks such as lying on their backs, "kissing," shaking, hanging upside down and even can be potty trained. Green-cheeked parrots are quiet, so even a unit dweller can enjoy their companionship. They can be prone to biting, particularly when young, but an owner can cure this behavior with patience and time.
They love fruits, (especially bananas and raisins), and seeds such as sunflower, safflower, and hemp seeds—all found in their natural environments. Green-cheeked parrots also love table food—they are flock animals and love to eat with their family. They can eat potatoes, carrots, corn, bread, pasta, and plain popcorn. A clipped and/or caged bird can become obese from eating too many fatty seeds such as sunflower seeds and peanuts. A bird-pellet diet with a calcium supplement provides proper nutrition and should comprise 60-70% of their diet. A good rule of thumb is 70% pellet diet, 20% fruit and vegetables and <10% treat items. Parrots with health problems related to the kidneys should not be fed a high protein diet, as it may lead to gout; veterinarian prescribed low-protein diets are available for birds with such conditions. Green-cheeked parrots can live to 30 years with proper care, though the average lifespan is typically 10 years due to owner neglect.
In addition to the natural color forms, color mutants have been selectively bred in aviculture:
- Cinnamon are lime green and have a lighter, almost pale color to the feathers. The head is tan and the tail feathers are a lighter maroon than in normal green-cheeked parrots.
- Yellow-sided have a breast of bright colors.
- Pineapple is cinnamon and yellow-sided combination. They have a breast of bright colors, a tan head and lime green feathers on the back like a cinnamon green-cheeked parrot. The tail feathers are the same as a yellow-sided, showing a halo effect.
- Turquoise have a body with some blue-green and green feathers. The breast feathers are grayish and the tail feathers are gray.
Yellow-sided green-cheek mutation
A green/red/blue apple mutation is not very common but has been seen.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Pyrrhura molinae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Smith, P. (2006). Green-cheeked Parakeet. Fauna Paraguay. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- Forshaw (2006). plate 85.
- "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Psittaciformes (Version 9.026)". Zoonomen.net. 2009-07-26.
- Collar, N.J. (1997). Green-cheeked Parakeet (Pyrrhura molinae), page 440 in: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; and Sargatal, J., eds. (1997). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 4. Sandgrouses to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-22-9
- Berlo, B.V. (2009). A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil. Page 126-127. Oxford University Press, New York. ISBN 978-0-19-530154-0
- Forshaw (2006). page 114.
- Juniper; Parr (1998). Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. p. 462. ISBN 0-300-07453-0.
- Lara. "The Green Cheek Conure Homepage". Gcch.tripod.com. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Specialist Breeders - Birds for Sale - All About Green Cheek Conures". All About Birds. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
- "Green Cheek Conure". Petco.com. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- "Gout in Pet Birds". 2ndchance.info. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- "Green Cheeked Conure". Central Pets Educational Foundation. Web Archive Copy. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12.
- "Yellow sided green cheek conure". Commons.wikimedia.org. Retrieved 2013-10-20.