Lilac-crowned Amazon (Amazona finschi)
|Also known as:||Lilac-crowned parrot|
|Spanish:||Amazona Guayabera, Cotorra Frente Roja, Loro Corona-violeta|
|Size||Length: 30.5 - 34.5 cm (2)|
Male wingspan: 191 - 215 mm (4)
Female wingspan: 185 - 208 mm (4)
|Weight||280 - 327 g (3)|
The lilac-crowned Amazon is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (5).
A striking bird, the lilac-crowned Amazon (Amazona finschi) has a vibrant green body with a burgundy forehead and, as the common name suggests, a splendid lilac-blue crown and neck (6). The outer feathers of the wings are edged in black, whilst the primary and secondary feathers are tipped with blue and red respectively (6) (7). The juvenile has duller plumage and dark brown eyes, in contrast to the yellow-orange iris of the adult bird (6).
The lilac-crowned Amazon is endemic to the Pacific coast of Mexico, and is most abundant in the states of Jalisco, Michoacán and Sinaloa (1). Feral populations have also been reported in California, in the United States (8).
The lilac-crowned Amazon lives in semi-deciduous, seasonally dry forests (9). It is known to nest in natural cavities in trees, showing a preference for tall trees with a narrow cavity entrance (9), presumably to reduce the risk of predation (10) (11).
The lilac-crowned Amazon feeds mainly on seeds, although it exhibits a high level of flexibility in its diet throughout the varying dry and rainy seasons, in order to make the most of the available food sources. It has been observed to eat a variety of 33 different foods throughout the year, with seeds forming up to 82 percent of its diet (12).
The lilac-crowned Amazon is most active in the morning and afternoon, during which time it forages for food. Studies have reported that the lilac-crowned Amazon may sometimes display signs of heat-stress at midday, perhaps explaining why it is less active during this time (9).
A highly social bird, the lilac-crowned Amazon travels in flocks from its roosting sites to forage (13). Breeding takes place in February and the birds form monogamous pairs, typically laying 2 to 3 eggs which are incubated for between 26 and 28 days (14) (15).
The lilac-crowned Amazon has a relatively low reproductive success rate; only about 42 percent of pairs manage to successfully raise a chick to fledging. The main cause of nest failure is the predation of the eggs or chicks, and potential predators include rats, snakes, the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) and the white-nosed coati (Nasua narica) (14).
The major threat facing the lilac-crowned Amazon is capture for the domestic and international wildlife trade (1). Poaching of lilac-crowned Amazon nests is extensive, and is much more common outside of nature reserves where the birds are not protected (14). Due to its popularity as a cage bird, it is one of the most frequently confiscated Mexican parrots (7), and estimates suggest that there has been a 29 percent decrease in population size over the past 20 years (5).
The lilac-crowned Amazon is also threatened by deforestation. In Mexico, tropical dry forests have one of the highest rates of deforestation (16), and this leads to habitat fragmentation, a reduction in available breeding sites, and reduced food availability (12).
The lilac-crowned Amazon is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which means that trade in this species should be tightly controlled (5). According to CITES, there were 144 seizures of the lilac-crowned Amazon from illegal trade in Mexico between 1995 and 2000 (17).
The Mexican government has substantially increased efforts to reduce poaching of the lilac-crowned Amazon, and in 1999 it established a ‘Plan for the Conservation, Protection and Recuperation of parrots in Mexico’, with the lilac-crowned Amazon considered a priority species. This plan involved strategies for trade regulation, habitat conservation and the recovery of wild populations (7).
The lilac-crowned Amazon is found in three protected Biosphere Reserves; Sierra de Alamos-Arroyo Cuchujaqui, southern Sonora, and Chamela-Cuixmala and Sierra de Manantlán, Jalisco (7).
Find out more about the lilac-crowned Amazon and its conservation:
BirdLife International - Lilac-crowned Amazon:
The World Parrot Trust - Lilac-crowned Amazon:
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- Feral: previously domesticated animals that have returned to a wild state.
- Incubate: to keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
- Monogamous: having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
- Primary feathers: the main flight feathers projecting along the outer edge of a bird’s wing.
- Secondary feathers: the shorter flight feathers projecting along the inner edge of a bird’s wing.
- Semi-deciduous: refers to plants that lose their foliage for a very short period.
IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
- Howell, S.N.G. and Webb, S.W. (1995) A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, New York.
- Renton, K. (2002) Influence of environmental variability on the growth of Lilac-crowned Parrot nestlings. Ibis, 144: 331–339.
- Forshaw, J.M. (1989) Parrots of the world. Lansdowne Editions, Melbourne.
CITES (November, 2011)
World Parrot Trust - Lilac-crowned Amazon (November, 2011)
BirdLife International (November, 2011)
The California Parrot Project - Lilac-crowned parrot (November, 2011)
- Renton, K. and Salinas-Melgoza, A. (1999) Nesting behaviour of the Lilac-crowned parrot. Wilson Bulletin, 111(4): 488-493.
- Nilsson, S.G. (1984) The evolution of nest-site selection among hole-nesting birds: the importance of nest predation and competition. Ornis Scandinavica, 15: 167-175.
- Wilcove, D.S. (1985) Nest predation in forest tracts and the decline of migratory songbirds. Ecology, 66: 1211-1214.
- Renton, K. (2001) Lilac-crowned parrot diet and food resource availability: resource tracking by a parrot seed predator. The Condor, 103: 62-69.
- Renton, K. and Salinas-Melgoza, A. (2005) Seasonal variation in activity patterns of juvenile Lilac-crowned parrots in tropical dry forest. Wilson Bulletin, 117(3): 291-295.
- Renton, K. and Salinas-Melgoza, A. (2004) Climatic variability, nest predation, and reproductive output of Lilac-crowned parrots (Amazona Finschi) in tropical dry forest of western Mexico. The Auk, 121(4): 1214-1225.
- Mann, R.E.H. and Mann, P.D. (1978) Breeding Finch’s Amazon Parrot (Amazona finschi). Avicultural Magazine, 84: 187-189.
- Masera, O.R., Ordonez, M.J. and Dirzo, R. (1997) Carbon emissions from Mexican forests: Current situation and long-term scenarios. Climatic Change, 35: 265-295.
Autoridad Científica CITES de México and Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (Conabio) (2004) Acciones Implementadas por México para la Conservación y el Manejo del Loro Corona Lila (Amazona finschi): Consideraciones sobre su Transferencia del Apéndice II al Apéndice I. Decimotercera Reunión de la Conferencia de las Partes Bangkok (Tailandia), 2-14 de octubre de 2004. Available at: