In a park somewhere in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, you sit on a bench to relax and enjoy the pleasant, tropical climate. While pondering palm trees, you can’t help but notice that bits of vegetation and possibly fruit seem to be falling out of a large tree. Something is up in the leafy crown; you can hear it making cackling noises but just can’t see it. A group of screaming kids run by, their faces lit up with laughter. Just after, a dozen leaves appear to take flight as a group of Crimson-fronted Parakeets bursts from the tree to zip off in screeching flight through the streets of the city.
Crimson-fronted Parakeets are a long-tailed parakeet species with red underwings and a red front. The red front and underwings can be hard to see in flight but the long, pointed tail stands out. This feature helps separate the Crimson-fronted from the smaller, shorter-tailed Orange-chinned Parakeet; the only other species of parakeet likely to be seen in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. In the Caribbean lowlands, the similar Olive-throated Parakeet is smaller and lacks red in its plumage.
Behavior in Costa Rica
Like many parakeet species, the Crimson-fronted in Costa Rica is typically seen in pairs. If a third bird is present, it is probably a young bird flying with its parents. Crimson-fronted Parakeets are strong, fast flying birds and are most often seen (and heard) as they zip overhead, screeching the whole time. When feeding in a fruiting tree, their green plumage blends in perfectly with the leaves to make them nearly invisible.
Habitat and distribution in Costa Rica
Crimson-fronted Parakeets occur in semi-open areas and edge of humid forest in Costa Rica. The key needs for this species are probably cavities for suitable nesting sites and fruiting trees for food. This parakeet has found cavities for nesting in the form of eaves and holes in the roofs of buildings in and around San Jose. It also finds plenty of food in the figs and other fruiting trees that shade the parks of the Central Valley. The Crimson-fronted Parakeet is most common in the Central Valley and also occurs in deforested areas of the humid lowlands.