Mexican Parrotlets, aka Turquoise-rumped Parrotlets or Mexican Blue-rumped Parrotlets

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Mexican Parrotlets


The Mexican Parrotlet (Forpus cyanopygius) is also known as Turquoise-rumped Parrotlet or Mexican Blue-rumped Parrotlet.

Distribution / Range

These small parrots are relatively common in most of their range, which is in northwest Mexico, specifically western Durango and Sinaloa, as far as southern Colima.

However, recently their numbers have declined in localities; particularly the Grayson’s Parrotlets (Forpus cyanopygius insularis) is possibly very endangered.

They favor open country and light deciduous forest areas in arid tropical zone to 1,320 m (4,400ft), especially along water. Outside the breeding season, they are usually found in flocks of 10 to 40 birds. Occasionally solitary pairs or small groups are observed. They can occasionally be found together with Half-moon Conures (Aratinga canicularis).

The green plumage of these hanging parrots present a perfect camouflage in the foliage of the trees where they spend a good part of the day. They are generally only noticed when calling and seen when flying to and from feeding and drinking sites in early morning and evening, or when foraging on the ground. They are quite approachable when they are feeding.

In their natural habitat, their breeding season commences in June until July.

Races, including nominate species:

  • Mexican Parrotlet (Forpus cyanopygius cyanopygius) – Nominate Species
    • Range: Northwest Mexico, specifically western Durango and Sinaloa as far as southern Colima
    • Grayson’s Parrotlets (Forpus cyanopygius insularis)
      • Range: Tres Marias Islands ( just off coast of state of Nayarit, western Mexico).
      • ID: The upperparts are darker green and the underparts are glaucous green contrasting with yellowish-green of sides of head; blue of rump and lower back darker.
    • Sonora Parrotlets (Forpus cyanopygius pallidus)
      • Range: Southeast Sonora and northernmost part of Sinaloa, northwestern Mexico.
      • ID: Slightly paler and more ashy in color, and the hens have no blue on the wings.



Their flight is very swift. They usually fly low and with rapid wing-beats.


Mexican Parrotlets average 13 cm or 5.25 inches in length (including tail).


The plumage is mostly green. The forehead, sides of the head, breast and abdomen are yellowish-green and paler. Occasionally a slight bluish tinge can be seen on the abdomen. The lower back, upper tail feathers, under wing-coverts and shoulder feathers are turquoise-blue. The primary wing feathers, secondaries (shorter, upper “arm” feathers) and greater wing-coverts are pale blue. The underside of the tail and flight feathers are bluish-green. The bill is pale horn-colored with a grey tinge. They have narrow light grey eye rings (periophthalmic ring). The irises are dark brown and the feet grey.


Females are easily identified as they lack the blue markings that can be seen on the male. The areas that are blue in the male are yellowish-green in the female. The underparts are also a brighter shade of yellow, with no blue suffusion evident either. There is also no blue on the underside of the tail and the flight feathers. The plumage is more yellowish on the breast and abdomen.

Immatures / Juveniles:

Look like the adults, but they are less brightly colored. The blue markings that can be seen in the adult male are mixed with green. Young males can be identified by the greenish suffusion evident in the turquoise coloration of their rump, under wing-coverts and axillaries (feathers under the wing – the “armpit” or “wingpit” of a bird). Their primary coverts also only show a trace of blue.

Call / Vocalization:

They make high-pitched contact calls. The vocalizations are also described as; rolling, not overly loud screeches, which can, however, be heard over a considerable distance. While feeding, shrill monosyllabic calls are often heard.

Diet / Feeding:

Their natural diet consists of various ripe and half-ripe fruits, seeds, grass-seeds and berries.

Captive Diet: They should have available a good quality dry food mix consisting of various seeds, including wheat, oats, canary seed, various millets, weed seeds and a little sunflower. Various fresh fruits (including apples) and vegetables (i.e. carrot) as well as rose-hips and greenfood (chickweed, dandelion etc.) should also be offered daily. During the breeding season in particular, insects and various soft foods should be available as well.


Mexican parrotlets are fairly quiet. They are shy, particularly during the acclimatization. Caretakers often find them crowd into corner of cage or aviary when spooked. It’s best to avoid disturbances and provide shrubbery in outside flights as hiding places to avoid prowling cats or disturbance at night to cause panic amongst them which could result in injury as they hit the flight when trying to get away. Acclimatization is sometimes challenging. They are initially susceptible to cold and infections. They don’t tolerate well a sudden change in diet, and it’s important to introduce new food slowly and cautiously.

They enjoy bathing very much, so it’s recommended to make available a shallow bathing dish on daily basis.

To satisfy their urge to chew and also for entertainment, provide fresh willow twigs (not necessary in planted aviaries).

They are active little parrots and require large flights for good health and well-being. Good-sized aviaries with these dimensions or bigger are optimal: 3 x 1 x 2 m (9 x 3 x 6 ft). Breeding is also possible in spacious birdroom cages / flights. Communal aviaries have been successful, as long as no other Forpus Parrotlet species are placed in the same aviary.

Provide an upright nest box 15 x 15 x 25 cm (4 x 4 x 10 ins) with a 5 cm (2ins) entrance hole at all times, as they like to roost in them. Also, some birds breed outside the typical breeding season. Breeding usually begins in August. The breeding condition is signaled by an increasing silvery-blue tinge to the bill.

The average clutch consists of 6 to 8 eggs, laid every other day. The hen broods alone and usually starts incubating the eggs after the second egg has been laid. The incubation period is about 19 days and during that time she rarely leaves nest and is fed by the male. During this time, she is sensitive to disturbance and nest box inspection, and she may abandon the eggs or chicks if disturbed. The fledging period is 4 to 5 weeks and the young are continued to be fed for 3 to 4 weeks after leaving nest. It is important to remove the young quickly should the parents start breeding again, as the chicks are sometimes injured by parents anxious to breed again.

Taxonomy (Nominate Species):

Distribution: North-western Mexico

Genus: Scientific: Forpus … English: Parrotlets … Dutch: Muspapegaaien … German: Sperlingspapageien … French: Perruche moineau

Species: Scientific: Forpus cyanopygius cyanopygius … English: Mexican Parrotlet … Dutch: Mexicaanse Muspapegaai … German: Mexikanischer Blaubürzel Sperlingspapagei … French: Perruche à croupion bleu … CITES II – Endangered Species

Sub-Species / Races Including Nominate: insularis, pallidus, cyanopygius


Grayson’s Parrotlets:

Distribution: The Grayson’s Parrotlets are also known as Tres Marias Parrotlets as they are exclusively found on Tres Marias Islands (off the coast of state of Nayarit in western Mexico).


They are the same size as the nominate species featured on this page, namely about 13 cm (5.25 ins) long, including the tail.

They look like the nominate species featured on this page (c. cyanopygius), except the forehead, lores (the region between the eye and bill on the side of a bird’s head), cheeks and throat are yellowish-green. The back of the head, back, wing-coverts, under tail-coverts and tail upperside are dark green with a slight greyish tinge. The breast and abdomen are pale bluish-green (similar to underside of tail and flight feathers in nominate form). The blue markings are generally darker. The upper and lower beaks are lead-colored with horn-colored tips.

Hens look like the nominate form, but are slightly darker, particularly on the cheeks and upper wing-coverts. There is a slight bluish-green tinge to the abdomen in some birds. The primary wing feathers are bluish-green.

Juveniles resemble adults, but the plumage of young males is mixed with green.

Genus: Scientific: Forpus … English: Parrotlets … Dutch: Muspapegaaien … German: Sperlingspapageien … French: Perruche moineau

Species: Scientific: Forpus cyanopygius insularis … English: Tres-Marias Parrotlet, Grayson’s Parrotlet … Dutch: Tres Marias Muspapegaai … German: Tres Marias Sperlingspapagei … French: Perruche à croupion bleu Tres Marias … CITES II – Endangered Species

Sonora Parrotlets (Forpus cyanopygius pallidus)

Distribution: Sonora Parrotlets can be found southeastern Sonora and most northern part of Sinaloa in northwest Mexico.


They are the same size as the nominate species featured on this page, namely about 13 cm (5.25 ins) long, including the tail.

Sonora Parrotlets are paler than the nominate form. The underparts are yellower and they have a more ashy coloration on top.

Females look like Sonora males, but lack the blue marking that can be seen in the male and they have a slightly more yellowish tinge to the breast and abdomen.

Immatures resemble adults. The blue plumage in young males is mixed with green.


Genus: Scientific: Forpus … English: Parrotlets … Dutch: Muspapegaaien … German: Sperlingspapageien … French: Perruche moineau

Species: Scientific: Forpus cyanopygius pallidus … English: Sonora Parrotlet … Dutch: Sonora Muspapegaai … German: Sonora Sperlingspapagei … French: Perruche à croupion bleu Sinaloa … CITES IIEndangered Species


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