Black-billed Amazon (Amazona agilis)

loading
Black-billed Amazon perched
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Black-billed Amazon fact file

Black-billed Amazon description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusAmazona (1)

The black-billed Amazon (Amazona agilis) is the smallest of the Amazon parrots, and is one of only two Amazona species endemic to Jamaica (3) (5).

This brightly-coloured species has green plumage, with lighter green or yellow underparts. Slightly darker edges to the feathers on the back of the neck give a scaled effect. The black-billed Amazon has dark brown eyes surrounded by a dark grey ring, and the bill is black (2) (6).

Male black-billed Amazons have red coverts on the outer wing, while these feathers are usually green on females and juveniles (3).

The black-billed Amazon can be identified by its high pitched screeching, and the “rrak, muh-weep” and bugling “tuh-tuk” given in flight (2).

Also known as
Black-billed parrot.
Spanish
Amazona Jamaicana Piquioscura, Amazonico Activo, Amazonico Jamaica, Amazonico Todo Verde.
Size
Length: 25 cm (2)
Weight
178 g (3)
Top

Black-billed Amazon biology

The black-billed Amazon feeds on fruit, seeds, nuts, berries and blossoms high in the forest canopy (2) (3). Populations of black-billed Amazons will move in response to the location of food sources (3). This species will also feed on cultivated crops, and can cause considerable damage to ripening fruit (7).

The black-billed Amazon forms flocks of 6 to 30 individuals (8) (9). This species nests in tree-hollows at least 18 metres above the ground. Like other parrot species, vigorous vocalizing between black-billed Amazon pairs advertise nesting territories (5).

The breeding season is from March to August. The black-billed Amazon lays between two and four eggs, with an interval of approximately 48 hours between successive eggs. The eggs are incubated solely by the female for 24 days. During this time the male will forage and exchange food with the female. Incubation starts after the first egg is laid, so hatching occurs at intervals, with up to seven days between the first and last hatching (5). The black-billed Amazon chicks spend up to eight weeks in the nest before fledging (3) (5).

The Jamaican boa (Epicrates subflavus) is the main predator to the black-billed Amazon, and is the main cause of mortality in chicks during the long nesting period (5).

Top

Black-billed Amazon range

The black-billed Amazon is endemic to Jamaica. Over 90 percent of the population can be found in the Cockpit Country Conservation Area in central Jamaica (2).

Top

Black-billed Amazon habitat

The black-billed Amazon is found in wet limestone forests up to elevations of 1,600 metres (3). This species can be found high in the canopy, and may also be found foraging in cultivated land and plantations close to the edge of the forest (2).

Top

Black-billed Amazon status

The black-billed Amazon is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

Top

Black-billed Amazon threats

Once widespread across Jamaica, both the range and population of the black-billed Amazon have declined. Jamaica has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation, and is causing the habitat of the black-billed Amazon habitat to become increasingly fragmented. Forest clearance for logging, cultivation and bauxite mining pose the biggest threat to this species (2) (3) (5). Bauxite mining licences have recently been issued for over 60 percent of the Cockpit Country Conservation Area, which may reduce the black-billed Amazon population by half over the next 40 to 50 years (2).

Additionally, poaching and trapping for local consumption has contributed to this species’ population decline (2). Unlike many mainland species of parrot, poaching for the pet trade is minimal and does not pose a threat to the black-billed Amazon (5).

The black-billed Amazon is also threatened by hybridisation with non-native Amazona species introduced to the island (2).

Top

Black-billed Amazon conservation

Since 1995, conservation measures to protect the black-billed Amazon have included estimating its population size, training local populations in methods of long-term monitoring and research, and identifying causes of poor reproductive performance (2).

In an effort to prevent hybridisation, discussions are being held about the banning of imports of parrots to Jamaica (2).

A national park has been created, including land in the Blue and John Crow Mountains, although there is little enforcement in place. There is also a campaign to prohibit bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country Conservation Area (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Top

Find out more

Find out more about the black-billed Amazon and its conservation:

Find out more about conservation in the Cockpit Country Conservation Area:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
Top

Glossary

Coverts
Small feathers concealing the bases of larger flight feathers, usually on the wings or tail.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Hybridisation
Cross-breeding between two different species or subspecies.
Incubation
The act of incubating eggs, that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
Territory
An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a group.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. BirdLife International (November, 2011)
    http://www.birdlife.org/
  3. del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A., Sargatel, J. and Christie, D.A. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol.4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  4. CITES (November, 2011)
    http://www.cites.org/
  5. Koenig, S.E. (2001) The breeding biology of black-billed parrot Amazona agilis and yellow-billed parrot Amazona collaria in Cockpit Country, Jamaica. Bird Conservation International,11: 205-225.
  6. World Parrot Trust (November, 2011)
    http://www.parrots.org/
  7. Forshaw, J.M. and Knight, F. (2010) Parrots of the World. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
  8. Pasquier, R.F. (1981) Conservation of New World Parrots: Proceedings of the ICBP Parrot Working Group Meeting, St. Lucia, 1980. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.
  9. Juniper, T. and Parr, M. (1998) Parrots: A guide to parrots of the world. Pica Press, Sussex.
X
Close

Image credit

Black-billed Amazon perched  
Black-billed Amazon perched

© Wayne Sutherland

Wayne Sutherland
5 Melwood Avenue
Kingston 8
Jamaica
Tel: +1 (876) 579 8203
waynes@cwjamaica.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamdowner/

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Black-billed Amazon (Amazona agilis) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog