Yellow-shouldered parrot (Amazona barbadensis)

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Yellow-shouldered parrot fact file

Yellow-shouldered parrot description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPsittaciformes
FamilyPsittacidae
GenusAmazona (1)

A typically vibrant parrot, the yellow-shouldered parrot has brilliant green plumage, with contrasting patches of yellow on the shoulders and forehead. The feathers of this attractive parrot have narrow dark edges, giving a slightly scaled appearance, and are tinged with blue on the underparts and wings. A single bar of red sits conspicuously on each shoulder and the chin and lower cheeks are often light blue (4). In common with most other parrots, the male and female is very similar, but juveniles are somewhat duller, with less yellow and blue on the head, and a whitish bill, washed with dark grey (2)

Also known as
Yellow-shouldered Amazon.
Spanish
Amazona de Espalda Amarilla, Amazona Hombrogualda, Cotorra Cabeciamarilla.
Size
Average head-body length: 33 cm (2)
Average weight: 270 g (2)
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Yellow-shouldered parrot biology

The yellow-shouldered parrot is a highly social species, usually found in pairs or small flocks, although groups of up to 100 birds are occasionally seen at communal roosts or fruiting trees (6) (7). The yellow-shouldered parrot is largely frugivorous, and will eat the seeds and fruits of trees, palms and cacti. It will also take the fruit of mango, papaya and avocado trees in plantations, a behaviour that has labelled the species as a crop pest (6). Like most other small parrots, this species flies with a swift, direct flight and may be extremely vocal, calling with an array of raucous chatters, squeaks and shrieks (8)

Most parrots are monogamous so it is likely that the yellow-shouldered parrot will mate with its partner for life. Pairs remain together constantly and reinforce the pair bond by feeding and preening together (8). Breeding takes place between March and August, with pre-existing cavities in tall trees or ledges on cliffs being used (6). The eggs are incubated for around 26 days and the young chicks will fledge nine weeks after hatching (2).    

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Yellow-shouldered parrot range

The yellow-shouldered parrot has a widespread, but fragmented distribution in Venezuela, across the mainland coastline, and the islands of Margarita, and La Blanquilla, and Bonaire of the Netherlands Antilles (5). On the mainland, the yellow-shouldered parrot is primarily found in two disjunct areas, Falcón and Lara in the west, and Anzoátegui and Sucre in the east. There is also some evidence to suggest that the species’ range may extend over Lago de Maracaibo and partly into Colombia (6). The yellow-shouldered parrot once occurred on the island of Aruba, but is now extinct there, and possibly also Curacao, although the records are poor (5).

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Yellow-shouldered parrot habitat

The yellow-shouldered parrot is typically found in dry shrublands, dominated by cacti and thorny bushes, but will also enter cultivated areas and mangroves (2) (5)

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Yellow-shouldered parrot status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Yellow-shouldered parrot threats

Throughout its range, this attractive bird has been the unfortunate victim of sustained, intensive trapping for the pet trade (5). Although mostly restricted to within Venezuela, trade in the yellow-shouldered parrot has been largely unregulated (5) (9). This has been compounded by the loss of its habitat, through rapidly expanding tourist resorts, overgrazing by livestock, mining activity and charcoal production (5). In some areas, the yellow-shouldered parrot is also persecuted as a crop pest, and it is likely that it was hunted to extinction on Aruba (9). In many areas this species has been limited to very small, highly fragmented, relict populations, and consequently it is highly vulnerable to further detrimental activities (5).

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Yellow-shouldered parrot conservation

The vulnerable yellow-shouldered parrot has greatly benefited from a dedicated educational programme highlighting its plight. Combined with stricter legal enforcement, nest relocations and supplemental feeding, the population on Margarita increased from 750 birds in 1989, to around 2,000 birds today (9). Reintroduction programmes have also helped to augment natural populations, with 12 captive bred birds successfully released into the wild in 1996 (10). On Bonaire, poaching activity has been substantially reduced through awareness campaigns and improved legal enforcement, with the owners of illegally captured pet birds being prosecuted and their parrot confiscated (7)

The yellow-shouldered parrot is also afforded some sanctuary in the Morrocoy, Cerro El Copey, Laguna de la Restinga and Washington-Slagbaai National Parks. Further surveys are required to determine the exact status of the yellow-shouldered parrot, but with the continuing success of conservation measures there is significant hope for the future of this attractive species (5) (9).

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

For more information on the conservation of the yellow-shouldered parrot, see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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Authentication

Authenticated (11/05/2010) by Dr Sam Williams, Netherlands Antilles, Caribbean.

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Glossary

Frugivorous
Fruit eating/ fruit eater.
Incubation
The act of incubating eggs, that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
Monogamous
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. The World Parrot Trust (March, 2010)
    http://www.parrots.org/index.php/encyclopedia/captivestatus/yellow_shouldered_amazon/
  3. CITES (March, 2010)
    http://www.cites.org/
  4. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  5. BirdLife International (March, 2010)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=1677&m=0
  6. BirdLife International (2002) Threatened Birds of the Americas. Birdlife International, Cambridge, UK.
  7. Williams, S. (2010) Pers. comm.
  8. Perrins, C. (2009) The Encyclopedia of Birds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  9. Snyder, N., McGowan, P., Gilardi, J. and Grajal, A. (2000) Parrots. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan 2000-2004. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, UK.
  10. Sanz, V. and Grajal, A. (1998) Successful reintroduction of captive-raised yellow-shouldered Amazon parrots on Margarita Island, Venezuela. Conservation Biology, 12: 430-441.
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Image credit

Yellow-shouldered parrot portrait  
Yellow-shouldered parrot portrait

© Mary Clay / 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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