This beautiful bird is the only parrot in Saint Lucia. In the darkness of the forest it blends into the green leafy world but, in sunshine, its red, green and blue feathers light up splendidly. Its Latin name, versicolor, means 'of many colours'; indeed it is, with green wings, a blue face and forehead, a red breast, and maroon and mottled colouring nearer the belly (2). The primary feathers are dark blue, and the tail bears a yellow tip. This parrot's appearance is unmistakeable in Saint Lucia, not least because it is the only parrot present. It can also be distinguished by its noisy and raucous screeching, cackling and honking noises (4).
- Also known as
- Jacquot, Saint Lucia Amazon, St. Lucia Amazon, St. Lucia parrot.
- Amazona de Santa Lucía.
- Size: 43 cm (2)
Saint Lucia parrot biology
In the early morning and evening this parrot forages in the treetops for fruits and seeds. It nests in tree-holes, and breeds between February and March (2). The female lays up to three eggs, and incubates them for around 28 days. When the chicks hatch, they are bald, blind and depend on their parents for food, protection and warmth (5). The parents look after the young, feeding them by regurgitating food, and after about 80 days the fledglings join the adults in the forest (5).
Saint Lucia parrot range
Endemic to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, this bird occurs across the central-southern mountains where it has a range of 140 km² (4).
Saint Lucia parrot habitat
Inhabits montane, moist forests, at elevations of 500 - 900 metres (2).
Saint Lucia parrot status
Classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendices I and II of CITES (3). This parrot is also protected in Saint Lucia by domestic legislation (4).
Saint Lucia parrot threats
This parrot is threatened by the dramatic changes that have been taking place in Saint Lucia. The island's human population is growing at a significant rate, which has increased the pressure on the forest's resources. Logging and forest clearing for agriculture and development has dramatically reduced the availability of this bird's habitat, food sources and nesting sites (4). Data indicates that in 1950, there was 295 km² of available habitat, but this has been reduced considerably since the mid-1970s (2). Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, also kill many birds (2). An additional threat is the hunting of this parrot, despite hunting being banned. Recently there have been proposals to lift the ban on hunting within forests, which would be disastrous for the Saint Lucia parrot (2).
Saint Lucia parrot conservation
The plight of Saint Lucia's only parrot was recognised in the 1970s, and conservation programmes sprung into place. These concerted efforts have managed to reverse the parrot's decline, and it is now slowly recovering. In 1979, the year of Saint Lucia's independence, this parrot became the island's National symbol, which dramatically increased local awareness of the species (5). A ban on hunting within protected forests was secured, and in 1975 a captive-breeding programme was established on the island. Captive-breeding of this species has been successful and, in 1995, 19 young birds had fledged. Conservation targets for the future aim to build on the successes of the captive-breeding programme, maintain and enforce the hunting bans in the protected areas, and conduct research surveys into the feeding and breeding ecology of these beautiful birds (4).
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- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.