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Amazon parrots
File:Amazona amazonica 2c.jpg
Orange-winged Amazon (Amazona amazonica)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Subfamily: Psittacinae
Tribe: Arini
Genus: Amazona
Lesson, 1830
c. 30 species[1]

Festive Amazon (Amazona festiva), illustration by Keulemans, 1891

Amazon parrot is the common name for a parrot of the genus Amazona. These are medium-size parrots native to the New World ranging from South America to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Most Amazon parrots are predominantly green, with accenting colors that depend on the species and can be quite vivid. They feed primarily on seeds, nuts, and fruits, supplemented by leafy matter.

Many Amazon parrots have a remarkable ability to mimic human speech and other sounds. Partly because of this they are popular as pets or companion parrots, and a small industry has developed in breeding parrots in captivity for this market. This popularity has led to many parrots being taken from the wild to the extent that some species have become threatened. CITES treaties have made trapping wild parrots for the pet trade illegal to protect wild populations.


The taxonomy of the Yellow-crowned Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala complex) is disputed, with some authorities only listing a single species (A. ochrocephala), while others split it into as many as three species (A. ochrocephala, A. auropalliata and A. oratrix). The split is primarily based on differences related to extension of yellow to the plumage and the colour of bill and legs. Phylogenetic analysis of mtDNA do not support the traditional split.[2]

Re-classification of the Yellow-faced Parrot[]

The Yellow-faced Parrot (Alipiopsitta xanthops) was traditionally placed within this genus of Amazon parrots, but recent research has shown that it is closer to the Short-tailed Parrot and the species from the genus Pionus, resulting in it being transferred to the monotypic genus Alipiopsitta.[3][4]

Hypothetically extinct species[]

Populations of Amazon parrots that lived on the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe are now extinct. It is not known if they were separate species, subspecies, or if they originated form parrots introduced to the islands by humans, and so they are regarded as hypothetical extinct species. There are no surviving remains of them, and their taxonomy may never be established. Populations of several parrot species were described mainly in the unscientific writings of early travelers, and subsequently scientifically described by several naturalists (to have their names linked to the species that they were proposing) mainly in the twentieth century, with no more evidence than the earlier observations and without specimens.[5]

  • Martinique Amazon, Amazona martinica (hypothetical extinct species). A.H. Clark, 1905.[5]
  • Guadeloupe Amazon, Amazona violacea (hypothetical extinct species). Originally called Psittacus violaceus by J.F. Gmelin in 1789.[5]


File:Amazona amazonica -cage -toy-8a.jpg

Orange-winged Amazons in a cage with toys

The Yellow-headed Amazon, Yellow-naped Amazon, Orange-winged Amazon, and Blue-fronted Amazon are some of the Amazon parrot species, which are commonly kept as pets. Amazon parrots, together with macaws, and the African Grey Parrot are all known for their exceptional vocal abilities, playfulness, and dexterity with their feet. Hand reared parrots are very loyal loving companions, and they can live for 50 years or more in captivity. However, some amazons—even well trained ones—can be aggressive during mating season. In order to maintain health and happiness, pet parrots require much more attention than domesticated animals such as dogs or cats. They require communication, manipulative toys, supervised time out of the cage, and so forth, or they may develop self-destructive behaviors. They have a strong, innate need to chew, and thus require safe, destructible toys.



  1. ^ ITIS standard report page: Amazona record last updated 1998 (URL accessed May 22, 2006)
  2. ^ Eberhard, J., & E. Bermingham. 2004. Phylogeny and Biogeography of the Amazona ochrocephala (Aves: Psittacidae) Complex. Auk 121(2): 318-332
  3. ^ Duarte JMB and Caparroz R (1995) Cytotaxonomic analysis of Brazilian species of the genus Amazona (Psittacidae, Aves) and confirmation of the genus Salvatoria (Ribeiro, 1920). Braz J Genet 18:623-628.
  4. ^ Russello, M.A. & Amato, G (2004) A molecular phylogeny of Amazona: implications for Neotropical parrot biogeography, taxonomy, and conservation. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 30: 421-437.
  5. ^ a b c Fuller, Errol (1987). Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England). p. 131. ISBN 0670817972 Check |isbn= value: checksum (help). 
  • Caparroz, R. and J.F. Pacheco, 2006: A homonymy in Psittacidae a new name for Salvatoria Miranda-Ribeiro. Ararajuba: Rev. Brasileira de Ornitologia. V. 14, n 2, pp. 91–93.

External links[]

Template:Amazon parrots

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