Red-browed Amazon (Amazona rhodocorytha)

Also known as: red-browed parrot, Red-crowned Amazon, red-crowned parrot, red-fronted Amazon, red-fronted parrot, red-topped Amazon, red-topped parrot
  
Spanish: Amazona Coronirroja, Amazona Crestirroja
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusAmazona (1)
SizeLength: 35 - 40 cm (2)
Weight450 - 650 g (2)

The red-browed Amazon is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

Amongst the largest of the Amazon parrots (Amazona spp.), the red-browed Amazon is named for its conspicuous red forehead and crown, which fades to a brownish-purple on the hindcrown (2) (4). The rest of the area around the bill is yellowish pink, while the cheeks and throat are blue to violet (4) (5). These vivid colours on the head stand out starkly against the primarily green plumage of the body, which shows dark scaling on the neck and mantle. Red and black patches also appear on the wings, and red markings on the tail, which is tipped with yellow (4) (5). Other distinguishing features include a horn-coloured upper bill that is pinkish at the base, an orange-brown iris and grey legs (2).

The red-browed Amazon occurs in isolated Atlantic forest fragments of east Brazil, with records in Alagoas and from Bahia and eastern Minas Gerais south to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (2) (4) (5). Just 854 birds were estimated to survive in 1999 (5).

The red-browed Amazon is found primarily in humid lowland forest, but also ranging seasonally up to 1,000 m above sea level in interior highlands (2) (5).

Red-browed Amazons prefer to roost and feed in the canopy of primary forest trees, where they could once be seen in large flocks that congregated during the non-breeding season, before numbers became so depleted. Nevertheless, flocks of up to 49 birds have recently been spotted and, like other Amazons, it is likely that this species forms loose foraging groups and roosts together for protection from predators (2). During the breeding season, thought to last from September to November, the birds live in isolated pairs, which establish and defend a nesting territory, usually a large cavity in an old rainforest tree (2) (4). While nesting adults remain isolated from others until their young are fully fledged, immature birds not yet mated may flock together during the breeding season. Nest site fidelity is high in Amazon parrots, and breeding pairs and young often return to the same nest trees where they were raised (2). In captivity, clutches of four eggs are usual, which are incubated for 24 days, with nestlings fledging 34 days after hatching (4).

The red-browed Amazon feeds on fruit, seeds, berries and buds, taken primarily from the forest treetops (2) (5).

Like many other endemic birds of south-eastern Brazil’s Atlantic forest, the red-browed Amazon has become locally extinct across most of its former range due to extensive deforestation and human encroachment during the last century. Habitat destruction has been rife and is primarily the result of conversion to plantations and pastureland and logging operations (2) (5). Surviving populations are small and fragmented, and now suffer from reduced foraging sites, increased competition for nesting areas, and the effects of genetic isolation (2). Yet deforestation continues, compounded by the ever-present threat of capture for the domestic pet trade, driving this rare parrot into a steep decline (2) (6). Sadly, the species is not even safe in reserves, with most of the 174 nestlings poached for the national and international cage-bird trade in the 1998 to 1999 breeding season reportedly coming from ‘protected areas’. Souvenirs containing feathers have also been seen for sale outside Monte Pascoal National Park (5).

The red-browed Amazon is protected under Brazilian law and occurs in 14 reserves, though most of these provide very little habitat protection on the ground and none are effective against poaching (5). Captive breeding, though difficult, has been successful in America and Europe and a global management plan for captive red-browed Amazons is now underway (2) (6). Reintroductions into the wild from captive stock may become an important conservation strategy in the future, but it is unlikely to successfully bolster numbers until sufficient habitat is secured that can sustain expanded wild flocks (2). Thus, law enforcement and in situ conservation to protect the diminishing Atlantic forests of Brazil must remain priorities in the protection of this and other endemic species if they are going to have any kind of future in the wild.

For more information on the red-browed Amazon and its conservation see:

Authenticated (07/12/2006) by Dr. Paul Reillo, Director of the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF).
http://www.rarespecies.org

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2006)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF) (October, 2006)
    http://www.rarespecies.org/rb.html
  3. CITES (October, 2006)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World – Sandgrouse To Cuckoos. Vol. 4. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  5. BirdLife International (October, 2006)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=1673&m=0
  6. The Society for Conservation in Aviculture (SCA) (October, 2006)
    http://www.thesca.org.uk/guides/amazons/redtop.html