Tucuman Amazon (Amazona tucumana)

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Tucuman Amazon, rear view
IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable VULNERABLE

Top facts

  • The Tucuman Amazon is a large parrot which is named after the province of Tucumán in Argentina.
  • Although it occurs in mountain forests in the breeding season, the Tucuman Amazon moves to lower elevations in the non-breeding season.
  • The Tucuman Amazon nests in tree holes and feeds its chicks mainly on the seeds and flowers of one particular tree species.
  • The main threat to the Tucuman Amazon is illegal capture for the pet trade.
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Tucuman Amazon fact file

Tucuman Amazon description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusAmazona (1)

The Tucuman Amazon (Amazona tucumana) is a mostly green parrot with black edges to the feathers that give a scalloped appearance (2) (3) (5) (6). This relatively large, stocky parrot has a red forehead and a white ring around each eye. There is also a red patch on the wing-coverts, the primary feathers of the wings are tipped with blue, and the thighs are yellow-orange (2) (3) (6). The Tucuman Amazon’s tail is short (5) and the tail feathers are tipped yellow (2) (3) (6).

The Tucuman Amazon’s beak is a yellowish- to pinkish-horn colour (2) (5) (6), and the adults’ eyes are orange-yellow (6). This species’ legs are pale grey (6). Both the male and female Tucuman Amazon are similar in appearance, but juveniles are generally all-green, with green rather than yellow-orange thighs and with less red on their foreheads (2) (3) (5) (6). Another key difference between adults and juveniles is that the juveniles’ eyes are grey (5).

The calls of the Tucuman Amazon have been described as a shrieking ‘croeo… crieo… croe…(6).

Also known as
alder Amazon, alder parrot, Tucumán Amazon, Tucuman parrot.
Size
Length: 31 cm (2)
Weight
250 - 280 g (3)
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Tucuman Amazon biology

The Tucuman Amazon breeds between November and January or February (2) (3), typically building its nest in a hole in an Alnus or Podocarpus tree (3) (6). The usual clutch size of this parrot is three to four eggs (5) (6), although clutches of one to five eggs have been reported (7). The Tucuman Amazon incubates its eggs for around 26 to 29 days (3) (5) (7), and the main source of food for the chicks comes from the seeds and flowers of the Podocarpus parlatorei tree (7) (8). The young Tucuman Amazon chicks normally fledge within seven to nine weeks (5) (7).

Adult Tucuman Amazons feed on trees in the Myrtaceae family, as well as on the seeds and flowers of trees such as Podocarpus parlatorei, Juglans australis and Alnus species, the immature fruits of Cedrela species and the flowers of Erythrina species (2) (3) (5) (6). The Tucuman Amazon often gathers in large flocks that frequently number over 200 individuals (2) (5) (6).

The Tucuman Amazon has been known to live for up to 50 years (5).

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Tucuman Amazon range

The Tucuman Amazon is endemic to the montane forests of northwest Argentina and southern Bolivia (2) (3) (5) (6).

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Tucuman Amazon habitat

The Tucuman Amazon is found in open mountain woodland in Andean ‘Yungas’ forest, particularly in areas with Alnus acuminata or Podocarpus parlatorei trees (2) (3), as well as other Alnus, Podocarpus and Nothofagus species (5) (6).

This species occurs at elevations of between 1,600 and 2,600 metres in the breeding season, but during the non-breeding season the Tucuman Amazon descends to lower elevations of around 350 metres (2) (3) (5) (6). At this time, it may sometimes enter city suburbs (6).

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Tucuman Amazon status

The Tucuman Amazon is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Tucuman Amazon threats

The main threats to the Tucuman Amazon are habitat loss and the pet trade. The pet trade is the major reason for this species’ drop in numbers, with around 20,000 individuals exported from Argentina in the 1980s and about 5,400 individuals taken from Bolivia. Unfortunately, some illegal nest-raiding is still occurring, even in protected areas, and the parrot’s population does not seem to have recovered from previous losses (2).

The techniques used to capture the Tucuman Amazon, which often involve taking chicks from nests, can cause further damage to the population as they often result in the destruction of the nest site (8). This species is also vulnerable to trapping during winter, when entire local populations may come together at roosts (3).

Threats to the Tucuman Amazon’s habitat include logging of its preferred feeding and nesting trees and slash-and-burn agriculture techniques (2).

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Tucuman Amazon conservation

The Tucuman Amazon is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that all international trade in this species is banned (4), although it is reported that this is ignored in Bolivia and illegal trade continues (2). It is estimated that only around 6,000 to 15,000 mature Tucuman Amazons remain in the wild (2).

This species occurs in several protected areas, including El Rey National Park in Argentina (2) (3). Asociación Armonía, a Bolivian bird conservation NGO, has also established the 40-acre Tucuman Parrot Reserve, which is right next to the Quirusillas Municipal Reserve, enlarging the protected areas in which the species occurs (8) (9). The reserve will help to protect Tucuman Amazon numbers, partly by safeguarding the trees the species nests in. Nest boxes are also being erected in the forest, eco-tourism is being encouraged, and conservationists are working with the local communities to provide alternative sources of income to logging (9). Asociación Armoníahas also worked closely with local people in the Quirusillas Township, resulting in the Tucuman Amazon being put on their municipal coat of arms and being named as a Natural Heritage species (8).

Other recommended conservation measures for the Tucuman Amazon include producing species action plans, enforcing bans on trade, and surveying and monitoring its populations. Further efforts are also needed to protect the remaining habitat of this rare parrot (2).

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

Find out more about the Tucuman Amazon and its conservation:

Find out more about bird conservation in Bolivia:

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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

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Incubate (incubates)
To keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
Montane forest (montane forests)
Forest occurring in mountains.
Primary feathers
In birds, the main flight feathers projecting along the outer edge of the wing.
Slash-and-burn
The cutting and burning of forests or woodland to create space for agriculture or livestock.
Wing-coverts
Small feathers which cover the bases of other larger feathers, helping to smooth airflow over the wings.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2013)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. BirdLife International - Tucuman Amazon (June, 2013)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=1667
  3. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. Available at:
    http://www.hbw.com/
  4. CITES (October, 2013)
    http://www.cites.org/
  5. World Parrot Trust - Tucuman Amazon (June, 2013)
    http://www.parrots.org/index.php/encyclopedia/profile/tucuman_amazon/
  6. Juniper, T. and Parr, M. (2010) Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. Pica Press, Sussex.
  7. Rivera, L., Politi, N., Bucher, E.H. and Pidgeon, A. (2013) Nesting success and productivity of Tucuman parrots (Amazona tucumana) in high-altitude forests of Argentina: do they differ from lowland Amazona parrots? Emu, published online 20 September 2013.
  8. Asociación Armonía- The current conservation status of Amazona tucumana (June, 2013)
    http://armonia-bo.org/english/news/current-conservation-status-amazona-tucumana/
  9. Wildlife Extra (2012) New reserve protects critical nesting area for rare parrot in Bolivia. Wildlife Extra, August 2012. Available at:
    http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/tucuman-parrot.html#cr
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Image credit

Tucuman Amazon, rear view  
Tucuman Amazon, rear view

© Dennis Avon / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
London
SE3 0BS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401
ardea@ardea.co.uk
http://www.ardea.com

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