Red-tailed Amazon (Amazona brasiliensis)

Also known as: red-tailed parrot
Synonyms: Psittacus brasiliensis
Spanish: Amazona Colirroja, Papagayo de Cara Roja
GenusAmazona (1)
SizeLength: 37 cm (2)

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

The red-tailed Amazon has a mainly deep green plumage with a broad red band on the tail, for which it is named, that becomes especially visible when the birds are displaying (4) (5). The forehead is rose-red, shading to purplish-pink on the mid-crown, while the cheeks, chin, ear-coverts, throat and upper breast are violet-blue (4) (6). The wings display some red on the shoulders and the flight-feathers are tipped in dark blue (2) (4). While the central tail feathers are green, the lateral tail feathers have a bluish base, a broad red band and yellow tips (4) (6).

The red-tailed Amazon is found along a narrow strip of south-east Brazil’s coast between Itanhaém in São Paulo through Paraná to extreme north-east Santa Catarina (4).

The red-tailed Amazon roosts and breeds in mangrove and coastal forests, including seasonally and permanently flooded forest and sand-plain forest, but will often disperse to Atlantic forest to feed (2) (4). Breeding areas are mostly located on small estuarine islands with few on the mainland (4).

Red-tailed Amazon are usually found in pairs or flocks, which may reach heights of over 400 individuals in winter (2) (5). Daily migrations allow the red-tailed Amazon to feed on the abundant mainland, while roosting and breeding on the coastal islands (5). From mid morning until dusk, this bird forages primarily for fruit, although it also feeds on seeds, leaves, flowers, nectar and insects within the fruit (2) (5).

The breeding season takes place from September to February, with up to four eggs per clutch laid in nests in natural tree cavities (4) (5). Eggs are incubated for 27 to 28 days, and the fledging period is thought to last from 50 to 55 days (2) (5).

Habitat loss and trapping for the cage-bird trade are the most significant threats to the red-tailed Amazon (4). Poaching by native Indians and for national and (illegal) international trade is placing the species under enormous pressure (6). Of 47 nests monitored between 1990 and 1994, six were naturally predated and the other 41 exploited by humans. Not only does this reduce the number of wild individuals, but nest cavities are also frequently damaged in the process of removing nestlings, reducing the number of nests available (4). Boat building, banana plantations, cattle and buffalo grazing and the construction of beach houses is causing the rapid loss of most remaining lowland forest (2) (4). It is feared that the proposed construction of a bridge to Ilha Comprida will increase pressure from tourism and habitat conversion (4).

The red-tailed Amazon is protected under Brazilian law and occurs in 15 protected areas, but law enforcement is often lacking (4). Its listing on CITES Appendix I prohibits international trade in this species, but illegal smuggling nevertheless continues. Many die painfully during the journey from hunger, thirst, broken limbs, or simply from trauma (5). Several projects have been implemented to raise local awareness about the threats facing this rare bird, and seem to have had some success. Successful captive breeding programmes are run in Brazil and Europe and studbooks are maintained to help keep captive populations genetically healthy (4).

For more information on the red-tailed Amazon see:

Authenticated (25/02/08) by Professor Luís Fábio Silveira, Department of Zoology, University of São Paulo.

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
  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)
  4. BirdLife Internaional (February, 2007)
  5. The Red Tailed Parrot (February, 2007)
  6. World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) (February, 2007)