Aratinga nanaolive-throated parakeet

Geographic Range

Olive-throated parakeets are found from Jamaica to the southern tip of Central America. The subspecies A. nana nana is native to Jamaica. (Bond, 1961; Downer and Sutton, 1990)


Members of this species frequent forests along watercourses and semi-arid/humid forests divided by water openings. This species is widespread in wooded hills, mountain slopes at lower elevations, cultivations and gardens. They can live in elevations as high as 700 meters and have been found primarily in Jamaica but can also be found in St. Thomas, The Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Central America. (Bond, 1961)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • rivers and streams
  • coastal
  • Range elevation
    0 to 700 m
    0.00 to 2296.59 ft

Physical Description

Aratinga nana are very colorful birds. They are green on their head, back, and tail and their throat and upper breast area are olive, hence the name olive-throated parakeets. Their eyes are orange and the bare skin around the eye is a cream color. Lower on the body they are more olive, and their feet are grey. Younger A. nana tend to have dark irises. They are readily distinguished from other Jamaican parrots by their smaller size, pointed tail, slender body, and rapid flight. Aratinga nana have bills which are large, hard, and curved downward. On average, they are usually 30 cm long and they have a wingspan of 60 cm. (Arndt, et al., 2000; Bond, 1961; Downer and Sutton, 1990; Hilty, 1994; Leinneweber, 1996)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    80 to 87 g
    2.82 to 3.07 oz
  • Average mass
    85 g
    3.00 oz
  • Range length
    23 to 30.5 cm
    9.06 to 12.01 in
  • Average length
    23 cm
    9.06 in
  • Range wingspan
    60 (high) cm
    23.62 (high) in
  • Average wingspan
    60 cm
    23.62 in


There is no information given on the mating behavior of A. nana but based upon other research of the parrot family Psittacidae, the birds do have a mating call that is sung by the male to make the female aware that he is ready to mate. The birds are monogamous. (Ramel, 2003; Voren, 1994)

Aratinga nana breed one time during the spring between April and May. At this time they look for nesting sites in termite holes and lay 3-5 eggs which hatch in 26-27 days. After hatching, it takes about 50 days until the fledglings are ready for their independence. (del Hoyo, et al., 1997; Hilty, 1994)

  • Breeding interval
    Olive-Throated Parakeets reproduce once per year.
  • Breeding season
    April - May
  • Range eggs per season
    3 to 4
  • Range time to hatching
    26 to 27 days
  • Range time to independence
    ~50 (high) days

In most birds, male/female bonds occur only during the breeding season and function only in coordinating parental care. Perennial monogamy, or year-round pair bonding, occurs in at least a dozen avian families, including cockatoos and other parrots (Psittaciformes). (Oring, et al., 1982)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
    • protecting


The lifespan for A. nana is not known, but parrots generally live for many years. (Ramel, 2003)


Little information is available regarding the general behaviors of this species. Conures (Aratinga) generally fly throughout their home range in medium-sized flocks, and when they breed, they mainly interact with their mate. (Leinneweber, 1996)

Home Range

There is no information regarding the home range of this species.

Communication and Perception

Although there was no specific data on the communication behavior of Aratinga nana one can infer that they use sound as a primary tool in communicating with one another. The contact call of the related Aratinga canicularis is a single continuous note of roughly 200 ms duration whose signal energy lies primarily in the frequency range from 500 Hz to 8 kHz. Males use thecontact call for mating. Each bird produced its own unique signature contact call. Parrots also have flight calls which make it possible to exchange information on location of resources like food and shelter. (Bond, 1961; Cortopassi and Bradbury, 2000; Hilty, 1994)

Food Habits

Aratinga nana feed mostly on fruits and vegetables. They are primarily frugivores and granivores. They eat buds and fruits of many trees , e.g. Ticus spp., red birch, Erythrina, Spathodea, and cultivated crops. Because of their strong bill and muscular tongue they are able to seek out fruits and break seeds that would otherwise be difficult for other animals to crack. They associate in flocks to share information about food; like flight calls and frequent chatter between flying birds and those in fruit trees exchanging information. When feeding, parrots are methodical and slow-moving, using their bills as extra "hands" when searching for ripe fruit. (Bond, 1961; Downer and Sutton, 1990; Hilty, 1994; Voren, 1994)

Many plants have built up chemical and mechanical defenses to ward off any possible herbivores. Parrots, though, have become practically immune to these plant's defenses. To avoid mechanical barriers, parrots' bills have evolved the ability to crush the largest seeds and destroy most of the seeds they ingest. To fight the chemical defenses of plants, they digest clay from riverbanks to detoxify the toxic chemicals in the seed/fruit. Alternatively, they avoid poisioning themselves by eating small amounts of toxic seeds and combining that with a larger amount of harmless seeds, therefore substantially decreasing the potential harm. (del Hoyo, et al., 1997; Hilty, 1994)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Tropical rainforests are green all year long and the increased occurrence of green feathers in tropical areas suggest that this color serves as an anti-predation adaptation. The green coloration allows them to move through the rainforest without being noticed. (Cubas, 1996; Hilty, 1994)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

This species of birds, whose feeding habits include eating buds, fruits of many trees, and cultivated crops often becomes a pest. Parrots are the most persistant immature-seed predators in the rainforest and make it hard for farmers to harvest crops thoroughly. They also are are predators to plants and fruit trees by interrupting and disrupting a tree's dispersal strategy and hindering germination. Parrots, though, make it possible for other organisms in their ecological community to eat. When lurking through the rainforest canopy, avoiding predators, parrots often drop some of the fruits and seeds that they have been collecting. This allows smaller organisms that are not in the canopy like termites to eat. They also disperse the seeds of many plants. (Bond, 1961; Cubas, 1996; Schubot, 1992)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

People often have parrots as pets. They are the most important group in the wildlife trade economically, and represented a F.O.B. (free on board, used when shipping various species and entrusting the carrier with all responsibility) value of about $ 827,757 in 1997. This value decreased to about $ 450,004 in 2000 because of smaller numbers being exported. Aratinga nana are also important in attracting tourists with hotel perks in the Caribbean and Tropical areas offering a free bird tour with your reservations. ("Assessment of Traded Wildlife Species", 2001)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Ecologically, Aratinga nana are seen as pests to farmers who cultivate crops. (Bond, 1961; Hilty, 1994)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Aratinga nana do not have special status on the IUCN Red List. They also don't have any special status on the Endangered Species Act list and the United States Migratory Act. But Aratinga nana, also known as the "olive-throated parakeet" are listed in Appendix II of CITES. One reason given for the downward trend seen in their population since 1997 is deforestation. (Meijer, 1997)


Matthew Wund (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Bernice Booker (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.


active at dawn and dusk


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


Assessment of Traded Wildlife Species. GFECP07. Guiana: WWF/UNDP. 2001. Accessed 03/22/03 at

Arndt, T., R. Reinschmidt, A. Fergenbauer-Kimmel, C. Scholtyssek. 2000. "Aratinga nana" (On-line). Lexicon of Parrots. Accessed September 23, 2004 at

Bond, J. 1961. Birds of the West Indies. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Cortopassi, K., J. Bradbury. 2000. The comparison of harmonically rich sounds using spectrographic cross-correlation and principal coordinates analysis. Bioacoustics, 11/2: 89-127.

Cubas, Z. 1996. Special Challenges of Maintaining Wild Animals in Captivity in South America. Review of Science and Technology of the Office International des Epizooties, 15/1: 267-287. Accessed September 21, 2004 at

Downer, A., R. Sutton. 1990. Birds of Jamaica. New York: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

Hilty, S. 1994. The Curious Naturalist: Birds of Tropical America. Vermont: Chapters Publishing Ltd..

Leinneweber, T. 1996. "Conures- Genus Aratinga" (On-line ). The Aviary. Accessed 03/20/03 at

Meijer, F. 1997. "Lexicon Foundation Dutch Parrot Refuge" (On-line). Accessed September 21, 2004 at

Oring, L., D. Farner, J. King, K. Parkes. 1982. Avian Biology. Avian mating systems, Vol. VI.. New York: Academic Press.

Ramel, G. 2003. Psittaciformes (Parrots). Accessed 03/22/03 at

Schubot, R. 1992. Psittacine Aviculture: Perspectives, Techniques, and Research. Loxahatchee, FL.: Willis Printing Group, Inc.

Voren, H. 1994. "Bird Breeder Magazine" (On-line ). Popular Conures and Their Breeding Habits. Accessed 03/20/03 at

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliot, J. Sargatal. 1997. Handbook of Birds of the World, v. 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicion.