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Species of the Day – Puerto Rican Amazon (Amazona vittata)

December 25, 2012

Species of the Day - Puerto Rican Amazon (Amazona vittata)

Puerto Rican Amazon is endemic to Puerto Rico, and once occurred throughout the forested parts of the island, the species is the only remaining native parrot on Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican Amazon is a predominantly green parrot with a red forehead and white rings around the eyes. This species has been saved from extinction because of conservation action that has lead to an increase in population since 1975, but it is still Critically Endangered because numbers remain tiny and fluctuating.

Historically, it occurred in montane and lowland forest, and mangroves. It is now restricted to forest at elevations of 200-600 m. It breeds between late February and July, when it nests in large, deep tree-cavities and lays 3-4 eggs. The Puerto Rican Amazon is diurnal, typically beginning its day half an hour after sunrise. Like almost all Amazons, the Puerto Rican Amazon is a herbivore. Its diet consists of flowers, fruits, leaves, bark and nectar obtained from the forest’s canopy. The Puerto Rican Amazon usually mates for life, with pairs only changing mates if one bird perishes or abandons the nest, but may abandon its mate under few circumstances. Puerto Rican Amazon is a secondary cavity nester, nesting in tree trunk cavities.

In 1975 the wild population of Puerto Rican Amazon reached an absolute low of 13 individuals. Numbers then recovered, and in August 1989 there were an estimated minimum of 47 individuals. But on September 18, 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck the northeast coast of Puerto Rico inflicting heavy casualties on the remaining birds. In the aftermath of the hurricane the population was estimated at 23 individuals. In 1992 the wild totaled to 39 or 40. In 2000, the parrot numbered 40 wild birds. In 2004, the wild population was 30-35 individuals, and the long-term trend appears to be stable albeit with some fluctuations. In 2006, 20 birds were released in the Rio Abajo State Forest marking the beginning of a second population in the wild a further 26 birds were released here in December 2007 and 19 more were released in December 2008, with the first two successful nests recorded in the wild at Rio Abajo in 2008 As of 2011, the population numbered c.50-70 wild individuals spread over two areas, and about 280 captive individuals.

Puerto Rican Amazon has been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN since 1994, because the principal threats that the species faces such as competition for nest-sites, loss of young to parasitic botflies, loss of suitable forest habitat, cage-bird trade, predation and hurricanes almost pushed the species towards extinction and still are the most serious limiting factor preventing population recovery.

In response to the Puerto Rican Amazon’s low population and endangered status, a recovery plan was drafted and implemented in 1968. Its main objective was to downlist the species to threatened status by the year 2020. Key conservation objectives included establishing viable wild populations through reintroduction, protection of habitat, provision of highly successful artificial nest-sites, control of nest predators and competitors and captive breeding. Conservationists believe that if these interventions and other existing conservation management programmes, are effectively carried on by the year 2020, the Puerto Rican Amazon can recover from the immediate threat of extinction.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 25, 2012 6:54 am

    we’re now losing more species per day than the past million year. thanks for sharing. i hope that they are successful at preserving these little ones.


    • December 25, 2012 11:54 am

      Your welcome, I’m just telling the stories and sharing the facts, that human induced extinction is a problem which can only be solve by human intervention by conservationist.


  2. December 31, 2012 10:55 pm

    Thanks for the likes 🙂 do like my FB Page



  1. 10 Caribbean species saved from extinction « wildplanet

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