Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 156, Supplement 1, pp 73–90 | Cite as

Resource requirements of parrots: nest site selectivity and dietary plasticity of Psittaciformes

  • Katherine Renton
  • Alejandro Salinas-Melgoza
  • Miguel Ángel De Labra-Hernández
  • Sylvia Margarita de la Parra-Martínez


Parrots (Order Psittaciformes) are secondary cavity-nesters that depend on existing cavities for nest sites, and consume plant resources of fruits, seeds, and flowers that are highly variable, but little is known of resource selectivity by parrots, or how they deal with variable environments. We reviewed published studies of nest-cavity use by parrots, and those evaluating parrot diet and their relationship with food resources. Most studies have been conducted within the last 20 years and these present data on resource use for only one-third of parrot species worldwide. However, basic information on resource requirements is lacking for the vast majority of Psittaciformes, particularly for species from the Asian region. Nesting studies have found that parrots use nest cavities in large trees, high above the ground, with large nest chambers, of 0.5–1 m deep, and entrance diameters related to body size of the parrot species. A few studies demonstrate that parrots select nest sites based on cavity characteristics, which may influence nest success, but a complete evaluation of adaptive nest site selection by Psittaciformes is lacking. Parrots have varied diets and may employ a combination of strategies of diet switching, habitat shifts, and movements to track food resources. This plasticity in diet and foraging strategy may influence the extent to which parrots can respond to anthropogenic pressures of global change. Parrots may also play an important functional role in forest ecosystems, yet little is currently known of plant–animal interactions of parrots, or the impact of parrot populations on forest dynamics. Based on our review of the literature, we suggest that to meet their resource requirements, parrots employ resource selection strategies of hierarchical nest site selection to increase the likelihood of nest success, and plasticity in diet and foraging strategy to track variable food resources. Future studies need to evaluate resource selection and the consequences of this for fitness in order to assess the potential impacts of global change on parrot populations, and to identify characteristics which make species vulnerable to human pressures.


Adaptive nest site selection Food resource tracking Plant–animal interaction Psittaciformes Resource selection Secondary cavity nesting 



Our research has been supported by grants from CONACyT 179877, UNAM-DGAPA-PAPIIT IN203012, and the Fundación Ecológica de Cuixmala A.C. to KR, a CONACyT grant C-965/2014 for ASM, a postdoctoral research grant to ASM (Conacyt 98294), and Doctoral study grants to MALH (Conacyt 215549) and SMPM (Conacyt 220278). We thank Juan Masello, Soledad Diaz, and the Parrot Researchers Group for compiling literature sources. We are also grateful to the reviewers for their constructive comments.

Supplementary material

10336_2015_1255_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (39 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 38 kb)


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Renton
    • 1
  • Alejandro Salinas-Melgoza
    • 2
  • Miguel Ángel De Labra-Hernández
    • 3
  • Sylvia Margarita de la Parra-Martínez
    • 3
  1. 1.Estación de Biología Chamela, Instituto de BiologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoSan Patricio-MelaqueMexico
  2. 2.Centro Tlaxcala de Biología de la ConductaUniversidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala–CONACyTTlaxcala de XicohténcatlMexico
  3. 3.Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas, Instituto de BiologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMéxicoMexico

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