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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-naped Amazons" have yellow limited to the nape and, sometimes, the forehead and forecrown. "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 move quietly in the treetops and fly well above the canopy with rapid, shallow wingbeats. They are found in semi-arid woodland, arid scrub and savanna (including pure Pinus savanna), openings in tropical deciduous and Pacific swamp forest, evergreen gallery forest, and sometimes second growth in agricultural areas. They have been reported to 600 m in Guatemala and 700 m in Honduras. Nests are in unlined cavities of living or dead trees. 

"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). "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. 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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Distribution

Range Description

Amazona auropalliata is found in Mexico and Central America, occurring along the Pacific slope of the isthmus in southern Mexico (Oaxaca and Chiapas), Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and north-western Costa Rica, the Bay Islands (Roatn and Guanaja) of Honduras, and the Caribbean slope in eastern Honduras and north-eastern Nicaragua (Juniper and Parr 1998). The total population has been estimated at fewer than 50,000 individuals (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008), although it may actually number fewer than 10,000 individuals (J. Gilardi in litt. 2011); however, more data are required to verify this. A population density of 0.054 individuals/ha was recorded in southern Rivas department, Nicaragua, during surveys in 2007-2008 (Lezama-Lpez 2009). The species is thought to be in rapid decline, probably throughout most of its range, owing to the loss and degradation of its habitats and unsustainable exploitation for trade. An estimated overall population decline of c.50% from c.1980 to 2000 has been reported (Anon. 2008), although this requires confirmation. Preliminary surveys and observations suggest that the population in southern Guatemala has plummeted since the 1990s (L. Joyner in litt. 2011). Interviews with local elders in south-western El Salvador provide anecdotal evidence that the species has undergone a significant decline since the 1950s and 1960s (R. Bjork in litt. 2011). In the early 1990s, the population in Gracias a Dios, Honduras, was estimated at c.123,000 birds; however, by this time the species had been nearly extirpated from Choluteca and El Valle (Wiedenfeld 1993). Surveys in Nicaragua indicate a steep decline in the speciess abundance between 1994-1995 and 2004 (Lezama et al. 2004), and locals in some areas report that the species has disappeared from the vicinity of human settlements (Grijalva 2008). The population in Costa Rica also appears to be in decline (T. Wright in litt. 2011). Although the Costa Rican population is regarded as one of the most secure, local people report that the species has declined since the 1970s and 1980s (A. Salinas in litt. 2011).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits semi-arid woodland, arid scrub and savannas, mangroves, clearings in deciduous forest, Pacific swamp-forest, evergreen gallery forest and sometimes secondary growth in agricultural landscapes (Juniper and Parr 1998, R. Bjork in litt. 2011).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 49 years (captivity) Observations: One specimen reportedly lived 49 years in captivity (Flower 1938).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Amazona auropalliata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2cd+3cd+4cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Andino, O., Bjork, R., Daz Luque, J., Gilardi, J., Joyner, L., Komar, O., Lezama, M., Muccio, C., Panjabi, A., Salinas, A. & Wright, T.

Justification
This species has been uplisted to Vulnerable because information on levels of exploitation and habitat loss, and local population trends, suggest that the species is undergoing at least a rapid population decline. The rate of decline may in fact be very rapid; however, further data are required to confirm this, in which case the species may qualify for uplisting to Endangered.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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