Spot-winged Parrotlets (Touit stictoptera)

The Spot-winged Parrotlets (Touit stictoptera), also known as Emma’s Parrotlets, are endemic to Northwestern South America; Central Colombia and Ecuador, where they can mostly be found along the western slopes of central and eastern Andes in Cauca and Cundinamarca.

They also occur in theMacarena Mountains in Meta, probably also in Nari¤o in Colombia, as well as on the eastern slopes of Andes in Ecuador and North Peru.

Seasonal migrations are likely to occur depending on food availability.

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They prefer forested areas and cloud forests between 600 m (2,000 ft) and 1,700 m (5,700 ft). Occasionally, they move up to2,300 m (7,700 ft) or go as low as 350 m (1,000 ft) in Peru and in savannahs with trees. At times, they visit grain fields.

Mostly they are seen in pairs, but these parrotlets may occur in small flocks of 5 to 25 birds in areas where food is abundant. They prefer tall trees and are usually difficult to detect in the foliage because of their camouflaging plumage. They are mostly observed flying above the trees; very rarely between them.


Its current world population is estimated to be between 1000 to 2500 and the numbers of this rare species are continuing to decline due to deforestation for illegal crops and human settlement, particularly in Colombia. They occur only in a few localities in Colombia and are common in localities in Ecuador and Peru.

The Spot-winged Parrotlet is one of four parrotlet species that are listed as vulnerable (Appendix II) – the others being the Golden-tailed Parrotlet (Touit surdus), the Red-fronted Parrotlets (Touit costaricensis formerly Touit dilectissima costaricencis) and the Yellow-faced Parrotlet (Forpus xanthops). The Amazonian Parrotlet (Nannopsittaca dachilleae) is listed as near threatened.


Unfortunately, breeding this parrotlet in captivity has shown to be challenging. In fact, there are no reported breeding successes in aviculture. Captive specimens only survived for short periods. Their special dietary requirements might not have been met in captivity. The general recommendations for those attempting to maintain these rare parrotlets is to acclimatize them slowly in a high aviary with plenty of hiding opportunities. The temperature should not be allowed to go below 20°C (68°F).

Considering the endangered status of this species and complexity of keeping it healthy, breeding and keeping this bird species should only be attempted by very experienced individuals or organizations — preferably it should be part of a managed species conservation program.


Flight / Movement:

They usually move around silently around the canopy and have a nonundulating flight with a smooth wavelike motion and steady wingbeats.


Spot-winged Parrotlets are “chunky” birds that average 17 – 18 cm or ~ 6.5 inches in length (including tail).


The general plumage is dusky green, except of the wings that are dusky brown, with whitish tips to the coverts and orange tips to two outer median coverts (please refer to Wing Anatomy).

The forehead, lores (the region between the eye and bill on the side of a bird’s head), the front of the cheeks, and the eye area are faintly yellowish. The throat, breast, abdomen and thighs are dull yellowish-green. The bend of the wing is brownish-back. The outer two median wing-coverts are dull orange. The remainder of the median wing-coverts, lesser wing-coverts and shoulder feathers are brown with dull white tips. The secondaries (shorter, upper “arm” feathers) and secondary-coverts are dark brown. The primary wing feathers and primaries (= longest wing feathers) are brownish-black with a narrow green edging to the outer webs. The underside of the flight feathers are bluish-green. The tail upperside is green and the outer feathers are reddish-brown on the inner webs. The tail underside is olive-yellow.

The bill is horn-colored with a marked olive-grey tinge. They have narrow, dark grey periophthalmic ring (skin around the eyes). The irises are brown. The cere (soft skin surrounding the nostrils) and feet are brownish-grey.


Female as male, but they have a pronounced yellow tinge to the lores (the region between the eye and bill on the side of a bird’s head) and front of cheeks. Her wing-coverts are blackish broadly edged with green. The primary wing feathers are brown broadly edged with green. (Please refer to Wing Anatomy) Her flight feathers are green.

Immatures / Juveniles:

Look like the females, but they are less brightly colored.

Similar Species:

The Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlets (Touit huetii) have highly visible red (and sometimes yellow) markings on their wings.

The Cobalt-winged Parakeets (Brotogeris cyanoptera) have pointed tails and blue wings.

Call / Vocalization:

These parrotlets are considered quiet for the most part; however, they can get quite noisy – especially when in groups and during the early morning hours and early evening.

Their calls are high-pitched and raucous – mostly two “raah-reh” or three “raah-reh-reh” notes during flight, the first note being deeper. They are usually silent when perching. These quiet parrotlets are easily overlooked while resting or feeding in dense foliage.

Diet / Feeding:

Their natural diet consists of Ficus figs, other fruits and small seeds and are also reported to raid maize crops in some areas, feeding on half-ripe maize and grain.

Captive birds should be fed a diet rich in fruit (especially banana and figs) and potentially berries. Lory nectar; vegetables and greenfood should be available to them, as well as half-ripened seeds, spouted millet, canary grass seed, oats, barley and some sunflower.

Vitamin and mineral supplements as recommended by a vet. Considered their highly endangered status, one would hope that their diet is carefully monitored by an avian vet.

Taxonomy / Other Names

Genus: Scientific: Touit … English: Spotted-tailed Parrotlets … Dutch: Bontstaartpapegaaien … German: Buntschwanzpapageien … French: Perroquet à dos couleurs

Species: Scientific: Touit stictoptera … English: Spot-winged Parrotlet … Dutch: Bruinschouderpapegaai … German: Braunschulterpapagei, Tüpfelpapagei … French: Perroquet aux ailes tache …

CITES II – Endangered Species

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