Black-winged or Black-eared Parrots

Hapalopsittaca / Hapalopsittica Species


The Black-winged Parrot, Hapalopsittaca melanotis, is also known as Black-eared Parrot or Peruvian Black-winged Parrot. This parrot is endemic to eastern Andes (the mountain range along the western coast of South America). Seasonal migrations in localities are possible depending on availability of food and nesting sites. Their favored habitats include montane forests, both tall trees and boggy areas (wetland areas that accumulate acidic peat, a deposit of dead plant material, often mosses).

They are mostly observed in pairs or small groups of 3 to 25 birds. Occasionally gatherings of up to 50 birds can be seen at favored roosting places.

These parrots are well camouflaged in the foliage and difficult to detect, as they climb around the tree slowly. Occasionally their loud sheck-sheck sounding calls can be heard.


Races – including nominate species

  • Black-winged Parrots (H. m. melanotis)
    • Range: Bolivian yungas (a stretch of forest along the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains), 1500-2500m, Central West Bolivia.
    • Habitat: Forest between 1,740 m (5,300 ft) and 2,500 m (7,500 ft) .
    • Identification: Head mostly bluish green to slate blue. The ear coverts (feathers covering the ears) are dark or black. Averages 23 – 24 cm (9 – 9.5 ins) in length (including tail)
  • Peruvian Black-winged Parrots (H. m. peruviana)
    • Range: Eastern Peruvian Andes (including the higher regions of Manu National Park), 2800-3400; area around Auquimarca and Chilpes, Junín Province, central Peru.
    • Habitat: Forest between 2,800 m (8,500 ft) and 3,450 m (10,500 ft)
    • Head mostly green with bluish neck band, ear coverts (feathers covering the ears) dull red.
    • Identification: As nominate species – the Black-winged Parrot (melanotis) – but with brownish ear-coverts; blue band to nape very much narrower. Slightly larger than the nominate species, averaging 25 cm or 10 inches in length (including tail).



This small stocky parrot averages 23 – 24 cm (9 – 9.5 ins) in length (including tail).

Adults: The plumage is mostly green with large black patches on the wings, dull yellow around eyes, and distinct patches over the ears. The head is bluish green to slate blue. They have blue lores (regions between the eye and bill on the side of a bird’s head) and a narrow frontal band. A blue band can also be seen across the nape (the lower back of the head). The breast and throat are bluish turning yellowish-green on the abdomen. The edge of the wing and under wing-coverts are bluish-green. The upper side of the tail is green with violet-blue tips and the underside is dusky bluish-green.

Their beak is light blue-grey, the irides (= plural of iris) are yellowish-green and the narrow eye rings (periophthalmic rings) are blackish, and the feet are grey.

Immature birds / juveniles have pronounced green on greater and median wing-coverts. The bill is grey and the irides (= plural of iris) are dark.


Diet / Feeding

Their natural diet consists of a variety of fruits and berries; probably also seeds and flowers and shoots of various plants. They take water from the tanks of bromeliads in trees.

Captive birds should be provided with a balanced diet consisting of various fruit and vegetables, particularly half-ripe maize and banana. A quality seed mix of safflower, oats, canary seed, various millets, some hemp and sunflower should be available at all times. Sprouted seeds should also be offered – particularly in spring and early summer. Fresh branches with buds and leaves will provide entertainment, nutrition as well as satisfying their needs to chew. A regular vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly vitamin C, may also be recommended (as recommended by an avian vet).


Breeding / Nesting

They breed in naturally formed tree cavities or woodpecker nest sites lined with wood dust.

A clutch averages 2 eggs which are incubated for 26 to 28 days. The hen incubates while the male guards the nest and feeds the female and helps raising the young. Initially the young are fed every two hours; once they are older about four times a day. The chicks fledge when they are about 49 to 51 days old.



Black-winged parrots are generally quiet and grow quickly confiding with their care taker. They are susceptible during the acclimatization period and sudden death without discernible cause have occurred. During the acclimatization, it’s best to keep the temperature at about 20°C (68°F). Once they are acclimatized, the minimum temperature should not be allowed to go below 10°C (50°F) or go above 25°C (77°F).

They should be provided a flight with the following minimum dimensions: 3 x 2 x 2 m (9 x 6 x 6 ft). A suitable nest box would have the following dimensions: 25 x 25 x 60 cm (10 x 10 x 24 ins) . This roosting box should be available at all times, even outside the nesting season.


Calls / Vocalization

Calls made in flight consist of rapid, repetitious and monotonous notes, yet melodic.



Peruvian Black-winged Parrots:

Species: Scientific: melanotis peruviana … English: Peruvian Black-winged Parrot … Dutch: Peruaanse Zwartvleugelpapegaai … German: Peru Braunohrpapagei … French: Perruche aux oreilles brunes Carriker … CITES II – Endangered Species.

Description: As Black-winged Parrots (melanotis) featured on this page, but smaller (25 cm or 10 inches long) and with brownish ear-coverts. The blue band to the nape is narrower.

Distribution: Eastern Peruvian Andes (including higher regions of Manu National Park), 2800-3400; area around Auquimarca and Chilpes, Junín Province, central Peru.


Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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