Cuban Amazon (Amazona leucocephala)

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Cayman Amazon, Amazona leucocephala caymanensis
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Cuban Amazon fact file

Cuban Amazon description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusAmazona (1)

The Cuban Amazon is a green parrot with dark edging to its feathers giving a scaled appearance (2). The head is a distinctive combination of pinky-red on the throat and cheeks, and white on the forecrown and around the eyes (2) (4). The belly is a dull purple-pink, while the flight feathers are a soft blue (2) (4).

Also known as
Bahamas parrot, Caribbean Amazon, Cuban parrot, white-headed Amazon/parrot.
Synonyms
Psittacus leucocephalus.
Spanish
Amazona Cubana, Amazona de Cuba.
Size
Size: 32 cm (2)
Weight
222 – 232 g (2)
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Cuban Amazon biology

The Cuban Amazon may be seen in pairs or in small flocks (6), and breeding occurs from March to June (2). Two to six eggs are laid per clutch, which are incubated for 26 to 28 days, and the nestling period lasts 56 to 60 days (2).

Cuban Amazon feed on the fruits and seeds of a wide variety of plants, including cultivated fruit such as mango and papaya, as well as stems, blossoms and buds (2).

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Cuban Amazon range

Native to the Bahamas, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. A. l. leucocephala is found in Cuba (including on the Isle of Youth, also known as the Isle of Pines), A. l. bahamensis on Great Inagua and Abaco in the Bahamas, A. l. caymanensis on Grand Cayman Island, and A. l. hesterna on Cayman Brac and formerly Little Cayman, in the Cayman Islands (2).

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Cuban Amazon habitat

Found in limestone forest, dry mixed broadleaf woodland, savannah with stands of pine Pinus caribaea and palms, mangroves, plantations and gardens (2). This parrot requires abandoned holes in trees, mainly palms, for nesting (4), although uses limestone solution holes on the forest floor for nesting on Abaco (2) (5).

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Cuban Amazon status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3). Four subspecies are currently recognised: A. l. leucocephala, A. l. bahamensis, A. l. caymanensis and A. l. hesterna (2).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened

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Cuban Amazon threats

The Cuban population of this species has declined in numbers due to conversion of land to agriculture, hurricane damage to nesting trees, trapping of live birds for local and international trade as food and pets, and pushing over of nest trees to obtain chicks for trade (7) (8). The Abaco population in the Bahamas is also threatened by poaching for trade, as well as habitat loss and cat predation. The reasons for the species’ extinction on Little Cayman are unknown (2).

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Cuban Amazon conservation

The listing of the Cuban Amazon on CITES Appendix I makes all international trade in the Cuban Amazon illegal (7). The bird occurs in a few national parks in Cuba, in the Bahamas National Trust Park on Great Inagua, and is protected from hunting on Grand Cayman (2). Although poaching has diminished in a number of areas, this remains one of the highest priced of Amazons, and there is still a strong financial incentive to hunt it for trade. Sadly, habitat loss only makes this colourful parrot ever easier to find (8).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For more information on the Cuban Amazon see:

  • del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World – Sandgrouse To Cuckoos. Vol. 4. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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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
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Glossary

Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World – Sandgrouse To Cuckoos. Vol. 4. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (January, 2007)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Arthur Grosset’s Birds (February, 2007)
    http://www.arthurgrosset.com/sabirds/cubanparrot.html
  5. O’Brien, J.J., Stahala, C., Mori, G.P., Callaham, M.A. and Bergh, C.M. (2006) Effects of prescribed fire on conditions inside a Cuban Parrot (Amazona leucocephala) surrogate nesting cavity on Great Abaco, Bahamas. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 8(4): 508 - 512.
  6. Damisela (February, 2007)
    http://www.damisela.com/zoo/ave/otros/psitta/psittacidae/psittacinae/amazona/leucocephala/index.htm
  7. BirdLife International (February, 2007)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=1660&m=0
  8. The Parrot Society UK (September, 2008)
    http://www.theparrotsocietyuk.org/index.php/Article_12/82
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Image credit

Cayman Amazon, Amazona leucocephala caymanensis  
Cayman Amazon, Amazona leucocephala caymanensis

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