1996 32¢ Thick-billed Parrot
Issue Date: October 2, 1996
City: San Diego, CA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
At one time the piercing screeches of the thick-billed parrot could be heard throughout the Arizona wilderness. Mining and logging however, destroyed much of the mountain pine forests on which the bird depended and eventually it could be found only in the highland forests of northern and central Mexico.
Encompassing hundreds of birds, the Arizona population was once continuous with the Mexican population. A forest corridor of highland pines enabled the birds to travel between the two territories. But today, much of the forestland has been destroyed, breaking the corridor, and although the Mexican population still numbers in the thousands, there is no way for the birds to move north back into Arizona.
Between 1986 and 1989, fifty thick-billed parrots were reintroduced to the Chiricahua Mountains. Ironically, birds confiscated from smugglers formed the core of this restoration program. Despite setbacks from fire and drought, the program shows signs of promise. Attempts to introduce captive-reared parrots however, have not been as successful – the birds refused to flock, leaving themselves vulnerable to attacks from predators. Efforts now concentrate on releasing wild-caught birds and providing healthy thick-billed parrots for breeding.