Cuban parrot, Rose-throated parrot, White-headed amazon parrot
The Cuban amazon, as its name suggests, comes from Cuba, where it is called "Loro o Cotorra de Cuba." It is about the same size as a pigeon and is amongst the smallest Amazon parrots. Its plumage is mainly green, with bright pinky-red cheeks and throat, white feathers around and above its eyes, and a purple-pink to dull maroon abdomen. Its primaries or outer flight feathers are blue. The different species have feathers of different colors, particularly on their face, chin and throat. Their bill is pale yellow or is horn-colored and their eyes are olive-green.
Cuban amazons are endemic to Cuba, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands of the Caribbean. Mainly found at or close to sea level, they have been found in the Cuban mountains. They live in pine forests, dense scrubby woods, broadleaved woodland, palm groves, plantations, mangroves, and sometimes in cultivated garden areas.
Habits and lifestyle
Cuban amazons are diurnal and social. They relatively sedentary and do not migrate. Outside of the breeding season they are found in pairs, or groups with several birds, or 30 or more. They are generally very noisy especially while flying. Their calls are a range of shrill, metallic shrieks and harsh screeches. Although usually found in fairly big flocks, they may still maintain some manner of family unit, as within flocks, groups of twos or threes may be seen, the smaller groups leaving the flock to feed only with each other. The small group then joins the larger flock as night approaches. As with many parrot species that exhibit tactile communication by means of allopreening and beak grabbing play, it is likely that this species exhibits the same behavior.
flock, company, pandemonium
Diet and nutrition
Cuban amazons are monogamous breeders and pairs mate for life. During the breeding season, they are seen more often on their own or in pairs, rather than in larger groups. Breeding is from March to September, with nests built in cavities in hollow trees, except for the population of Abaco Bahama amazons, which nest on the ground in limestone cavities. 2 to 4 white, almost round eggs are laid, and are incubated for a period of 26 to 28 days. The eggs hatch 12-72 hours apart and the chicks are altricial when born, without feathers and with their eyes closed. The chicks’ eyes open at about 3 weeks old and the nestling period is 56 to 60 days.
Cuban amazon populations are under threat due to conversion of land for agriculture, damage to nesting trees from hurricanes, trapping of live individuals for trade both locally and internationally as pets and food, and the pushing over of trees to get chicks from nests for trade. The Bahamas Abaco population is also threatened by habitat loss and predation by cats.
No estimate of population size is available for this species. According to the Wikipedia resource, specific populations of the Cuban amazon have been estimated in these areas: Cuba - 10,000 individuals, including 1,100-1,320 birds on Isla de la Juventud Island; Cayman Islands: Grand Cayman - about 3,400 individuals and on Cayman Brac - 400-500 individuals; Abaco - 3,550 individuals; Inagua - 6,350 individuals. According to the Bahamas National Trust resource, Abaco holds 3,000 - 5,000 birds and the Inagua population is 8,000 - 13,000 birds. Overall, currently Cuban amazons are classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are decreasing.
Having large home ranges and being able to fly long distances, due to their diet, these birds are likely to be important as a seed disperser for the local plants.
Fun facts for kids
- Christopher Columbus was so impressed by the numbers of the Bahama parrot (a subspecies of the Cuban amazon) numbers when he arrived in The Bahamas in l492, that in his log he recorded, “Flocks of parrots darken the sun”.
- The Bahama parrot was recognized in 1992 as the ofﬁcial Quincentennial mascot.
- Parrots have been pets for 3 millenniums. Ancient Egyptians kept them as pets, then the Chinese and Indians. They were carried to Europe in 300 BC,and lived with the nobles and other rich people.
- Most parrots love nibbling on seeds, flowers and fruits, but some parrots enjoy a little meat, and they also occasionally like to eat insects.
- The flag of Dominica has a parrot on it: the Sisserou parrot, their national bird emblem, a bird endemic to Dominica and endangered.