The Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vittata) occurred historically on Puerto Rico and the neighboring islands of Mona and Culebra. At one time this species was found throughout forested regions of Puerto Rico (with the possible exception of the dry forests of the southern coastal strip). However, beginning in the mid-19th century, populations declined dramatically as a result of habitat loss (less than 1% of Puerto Rico's original pre-European forest cover remained by 1912), hunting (Puerto Rican Parrots were widely viewed as crop pests), and capture as pets. Although the pre-European population probably numbered several hundred thousand, as few as 2,000 birds may have existed by 1937 and by the 1950s only around 200 remained. Only 24 individuals could be located in 1968, 16 in 1972, and 13 (a record-low) in 1975. Conservation efforts (including captive breeding) begun in the late 1960s have met with some limited success, but the species is still critically endangered. The current tiny (and therefore highly vulnerable) remnant wild population inhabits montane rainforest (200 to 600 m elevation) in eastern Puerto Rico, where birds may be encountered in pairs or small flocks. This species can be distinguished from the Hispaniolan Amazon (A. ventralis), which is present in Puerto Rico as an introduced species, by the Hispaniolan Amazon's conspicuous white forehead and maroon belly patch.
The Puerto Rican Parrot's diet includes a range of fruits, seeds, flowers, leaves, and bark. It nests in tree cavities, almost always cavities from natural decay in Cyrilla trees (and reportedly nested historically in limestone hollows in the western part of the island). Clutch size is 2 to 4 (usually 3) eggs. In recent years, known nesting events have all been in artificial cavities.
(Collar 1997 and references therein; Juniper and Parr 1998 and references therein)
- Collar, N.J. 1997. Puerto Rican Amazon (Amazona vittata). P. 468 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J., eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4. Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Juniper, T. and M. Parr. 1998. Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.