Yellow-crowned parrot, Yellow-fronted amazon
The Yellow-crowned amazon is a parrot that is native to Panama and tropical South America. Like most Amazons, the plumage is mostly green, and it has rainbow markings over its body as well. As per its name, its crown is a deep yellow, occasionally dotted with some red or orange feathers. In the bend of the wing, as well as the speculum, the color is red, while its legs are light gray. It has a white ring around its eye and an orange iris. Juveniles have a smaller patch of yellow on their head and brown irises.
This bird lives in the Amazon Basin and the Guianas, and there are further populations in Panama and the north-west of South America. It is an introduced species to Grand Cayman. Its habitat is tropical forest (both dry and humid), woodland, savanna and mangroves, and is sometimes found in suburban areas and on cultivated land. In the south of its range, this species rarely lives distant from the Amazon rainforest. Mainly a lowland bird, it has locally been observed up to 800 m (2600 ft) on the eastern parts of the Andes.
Habits and lifestyle
These are sedentary social birds which only move locally in response to changes in food supply. During the night, aside from in the breeding season, these birds gather at roosts in large flocks. During the day they join smaller groups of about 10 birds when feeding. During this time they are usually quiet. However, these birds can make a range of metallic whistles, shrieks, squawks, and repeated screeches. As with other parrots, the Yellow-crowned amazon has a flexible and complex repertoire, and can mimic human speech. Being strong fliers, they fly high on flights that cover long distances. They use shallow wing beats with no gliding, or very little. Yellow-crowned amazons are known to gather at clay-licks and associate there with other species of parrots. The territory of a Yellow-crowned amazon consists of only the area immediately surrounding its nest during the breeding season. They have a home range that is only slightly larger, dependent on the food available in the area.
flock, company, pandemonium
Diet and nutrition
Yellow-crowned amazons are monogamous birds and pairs stay together for life. Their simple courtship display for attracting a mate includes bowing, wing-drooping and wing-flicking, foot-raising, tail-wagging, and dilation of their pupils. When roosting, pairs will remain close by each other. Up to one month prior to laying her first egg, the female prepares her nest in the hollow of a tree. The breeding period runs from December until May. 2 to 4 eggs are laid, and the mother incubates them for 24 to 27 days. The male stays close by the nest entrance and he feeds his mate. After the eggs hatch, the female will remain with the chicks for most of the time, sometimes taking a break to forage. Several days after the eggs have hatched, the male enters the nest cavity to help feed the young, though the female still carries out most of the feeding. The chicks fledge at around 56 days and are independent at about 2 months old. They reach maturity at about the age of 3 years.
Although widespread, there are threats that affect the population numbers of Yellow-crowned amazons, including vulnerability to habitat destruction and being captured for export and for use as pets locally. They are also under threat of natural disasters like hurricanes which take place throughout their range, making island populations vulnerable.
No estimate of population size is available for Yellow-crowned amazons, but this species is common in at least parts of its large range. According to the Planet of Birds resource, one of the Yellow-crowned amazon’s subspecies, which occur in Honduras and north Nicaragua, is estimated to be around 140,000 individuals in Honduras. Overall, currently Yellow-crowned amazons are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List, but their numbers today are decreasing.
Because of their diet, these parrots are important seed dispersers and seed predators.
Fun facts for kids
- A parrot’s beak seems to be solid, but it is not. Like many of a parrot's bones, it is hollow, and inside it are fine bony struts which make it strong. Its outside is covered with keratin (the same substance in our fingernails). A parrot’s beak grows all the time and gets worn down when the bird eats, chews wood, and grinds the top and bottom of the beak against each other.
- Parrots enjoy a good song and are one of very few animals who are able to feel and understand music and its beat and move with it, which they like to do.
- Parrots cannot eat chocolate because for them it is very poisonous.
- Even though parrots are great talkers, they do not, in fact, have vocal chords. They “trumpet” sounds by pushing air from their trachea, and are not actually talking but making variations on whistling.
- It is not easy to tell male and female parrots apart because they are identical. Special blood tests are necessary for this information.