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Overview

Brief Summary

The Yellow-headed Amazon complex includes several forms that are regarded as subspecies by some authorities and as full species by others. Juniper and Parr (1998) recognized three distinct species: the Yellow-crowned Amazon (A. ochrocephala), the Yellow-headed Amazon (A. oratrix), and the Yellow-naped Amazon (A. auropalliata). However, they noted that the status of these taxa was unresolved and that, for example, the presence of forms intermediate between the Yellow-headed Amazon and Yellow-naped Amazon suggests that they might better be treated as belonging to a single species. They also pointed out that clarifying the situation is made more complex by possibly age-related plumage variation and substantial individual variation within currently recognized subspecies. Although Juniper and Parr provisionally recognized three distinct species, for similar reasons Collar (1997) and others have provisionally treated the various forms as members of a single highly variable species. Subsequent molecular phylogenetic studies have revealed even more taxonomic complexity. Investigations by Eberhard and Bermingham (2004) and Russello and Amato (2004) indicated that the Blue-fronted Amazon (A. aestiva) may in fact be nested within the Yellow-headed complex (Russello and Amato concluded that the Yellow-shouldered Amazon, A. barbadensis, also falls within this group). Further sampling and analysis by Ribas et al. (2007) provided additional evidence indicating that actual evolutionary relationships among genetic lineages in this group may not be well reflected by the plumage variations by which the traditional taxa are defined (see below). (Ribas et al. and references therein should be consulted for more details.)

As traditionally defined, "Yellow-crowned Amazons" are mainly green with yellow feathers on the forehead and forecrown, sometimes extending onto the lores (the area between the bill and the eyes) and around the eyes. and often with a red spot at the base of the upper mandible (birds in the western Amazon basin have a green forehead). "Yellow-headed Amazons" are similar in appearance but have yellow extending over the entire head (immatures are largely green with little or no yellow on the head and little or no red and yellow on the wing). "Yellow-naped Amazons" have yellow limited to the nape and, sometimes, the forehead and forecrown.

Yellow-headed Amazons move quietly in the treetops and fly well above the canopy with rapid, shallow wingbeats. They are found in savanna, tropical deciduous forest (including clearings), dense thorn forest, Pacific swamp forest, evergreen floodplain forest, dense gallery woodland, woods with Pinus caribea (in Belize), and cultivated areas with trees. They occur mostly in lowlands below 500 m. Nests are in tree cavities at 6 to 15 m.  The Yellow-headed Amazon is endangered, although some of the other forms are locally quite common (e.g., "Yellow-crowned Amazon" in parts of Peru and Brazil). This species is reputed to be among the best "talkers" of all parrots, increasing its popularity in the pet trade.

"Yellow-headed Amazons" are confined to Middle America in Mexico, Belize, extreme eastern Guatemala, and extreme northwestern Honduras. Feral populations are established in Miami (Florida, U.S.A.) and Puerto Rico. These birds are local and uncommon throughout most of their range, with populations severely depleted by habitat loss and trapping for the pet trade both within and outside the native range. "Yellow-naped Amazons" occur in Middle America in the eastern Pacific lowlands of Mexico, Guatemala (possibly), El Salvador (lower arid tropical zone), Honduras, and Nicaragua to northwestern Costa Rica (from the southern end of the Gulf of Nicoya northward). The "Yellow-crowned Amazon" is found in Panama (and possibly Honduras) in Middle America and in South America south to eastern Brazil and northern Bolivia (it is rare in Trinidad).

(Collar 1997 and references therein; Juniper and Parr 1998 and references therein)

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Biology

This is a social parrot that lives in flocks of up to several hundred individuals (5). During the breeding season from February to June (2) it lives in monogamous pairs and nests in hollow tree cavities (5) (6). Two to three eggs are typically laid per clutch, incubated by the female for 26 to 28 days (5) (6), but nesting success is only 0.5 fledglings per nest (2). As with many parrots, the male will feed the female through regurgitation while she incubates the eggs and feeds the young. Young leave the nest at 8 to 12 weeks of age, and sexual maturity is attained within three to four years (5). Yellow-headed parrots feed on fruit, nuts, berries, blossoms and leaf buds, and are also known to raid cultivated crops such as maize (2) (3).
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Description

The most distinctive features of this primarily green parrot are its yellow head and the red patch, or speculum, on each wing, which are lacking in young birds but become more prominent with age (3). There are also dark blue tips to the flight feathers and yellow tips to the tail, with red marks on the base of the outer tail feathers (2). The stout, hooked beak is used for cracking nuts and seeds as well as for grasping and climbing, and the feet are also highly adapted for grasping, having two toes pointing forward and two pointing backward (3).
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Distribution

Range Description

Amazona oratrix has undergone a dramatic population decline, judged at 90% since the mid-1970s, to 7,000 birds in 1994. There are three subpopulations in Mexico: the race magna in Tamaulipas, San Luis Potos, Veracruz, Chiapas, Tabasco and Campeche; the nominate race from Jalisco to Oaxaca (Roberson and Carratello 1997); and the race tresmariae on the Islas Maras. The race belizensis was widespread in coastal Belize, but is now primarily restricted to central and north-west areas (Clay 1999), mostly in pine-oak forests along the coastal plains (B. Miller in litt. 2007). There is an old report and a 1993 record from Petn, Guatemala (Clay 1999), and "guatemalensis" occurs from Punta Manabique to extreme north-west Honduras (Lousada and Howell 1996). There are conflicting reports that tresmariae is stable (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1998) and under considerable threat (Low 1995b). On the coast of Michoacn, Mexico, it has been calculated that the species occupies 45.6% of its estimated historic distribution (Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2007). Based on intensive field surveys during 2001-2007, it was verified that the species's range has contracted in Colima state, and it has been extirpated in 11 municipalities in coastal Guerrero state (from Tecpan de Galeana to Marquelia) (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007). The combined range decline for Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero is estimated at 3,990 km2 (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007). Its Mexican coastal Pacific range may now cover 18,957 km2 split into three fragments (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2010). The population at Punta de Manabique declined by 30% to 70 individuals from 1994 to 2001 primarily because of nest poaching (Eisermann 2003, Eisermann in litt. 2007).

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) RESIDENT: Pacific slope of Mexico from Colima south to Oaxaca; Caribbean slope from southern Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas south to Veracruz and Tabasco; and Belize. Introduced and established in southern Florida (Dade County), and Puerto Rico (AOU 1998).

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Range

Mexico is the primary range state with additional, small populations occurring from northeastern Guatemala to the Honduras border, and in Belize (4).
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Physical Description

Size

Length: 36 cm

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits dense thorn-forest, savanna, tall deciduous forest and humid riverine woodland, occasionally up to 500 m. Birds favour semi-arid regions in the northern Atlantic lowlands, but more humid savannas further south. In Belize, it inhabits pine savannas and adjacent evergreen forest patches, and "guatemalensis" occurs in coastal scrub, palm savanna and mangroves (Lousada and Howell 1996, Eisermann 2003). Food privation and fire cause occasional wanderings. It nests in tree-cavities and in snags of Roystonea palms (Eisermann 2003), with breeding occurring in February-June. Along the Michoacan Pacific coast in Mexico, the species nests in Astronium graveolens, Brosimum allicastrum and at least five other tree species (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007). Nesting success is only 0.5 fledglings per nest (E. C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich in litt. 1994). It feeds on fruit from wild and cultivated trees.


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: ALL SEASONS: Deciduous forest, open woodland, and pine ridges in native range; suburban areas where introduced. BREEDING: Nests in cavities in trees.

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Preferred habitats include tropical and subtropical forests, mangrove swamps, savannah, coastal scrub and cultivated land where trees are available for nesting (2) (3).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: Unknown

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Global Abundance

2500 - 10,000 individuals

Comments: Estimated to be 7000 in 1994 (BirdLife International 2001).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Nests February-June in Puerto Rico (Raffaele 1983).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Amazona oratrix

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Amazona oratrix

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 12
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2bcd+4bcd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Eisermann, K., Enkerlin-Hoeflich, E., Howell, S., Marn Togo, M., Miller, B., Monterrubio-Rico, T. & Tllez Garca, L.

Justification
This species qualifies as Endangered owing to a very rapid population decline. The population is now so small that lower (but still very significant) rates of decline are likely in the future (Collar et al. 1992).


History
  • 2012
    Endangered (EN)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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