Imperial amazon

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Imperial amazon
Amazona imperialis -Roseau -Dominica -aviary-6a-3c.jpg
At the Parrot Conservation and Research Centre, Roseau, Dominica
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: Amazona
Species: A. imperialis
Binomial name
Amazona imperialis
Richmond, 1899

The Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis), also known as the sisserou, is a parrot found only on the Caribbean island of Dominica.[2] It is also the national bird of Dominica.[3]

Description

Amazona imperialis Mitchell.jpg

The imperial amazon measures an average of 48 cm (19 in) in length.[4] With males weighing an average of 900 g (32 oz) and females 650 g (23 oz), the species is large for its genus.[4]

Being of the family Psittacidae, the sisserou has zygodactyl feet and a thick, hooked bill with a muscular tongue.[5] This bill is fashioned in such a way that using its hinged mandibles and tongue, the sisserou can easily move food around in its mouth.[5]

Males and females have identical plumage: the chest is a dark shade of purple, and the upper-parts and feathers are a dark shade of green, with black-edged feather tips.[4] The eye-ring is dark brown, with the eye being a mix of orange and red.[4] Juvenile appearance does not differ much, with a higher occurrence of green plumage and strictly brown eyes.[4]

Behavior

The call of the sisserou resides in the higher frequencies, a loud and even "squeaky" mix between shriek, squawk, and trill.[4] They are shy, difficult to approach, and usually travel in groups of three or less.[4][6] They sometimes flock together with red-necked amazons.[6] They are good climbers and strong flyers with powerful wings.[7] They prefer to perch on the tops of trees.[7] They are difficult to detect, as they are well camouflaged by their plumage.[2]

Breeding

Between February and April, nesting occurs and the female will lay a clutch of two white eggs in a deep cavity inside a rainforest tree,[4] with the same tree used year after year. For 26–28 days, the female will incubate the eggs.[4] During fledging, which occurs between June and early September, both parents will take care of and feed the chicks until they are fully feathered and ready to leave the nest.[4] The chicks use typical "begging calls" when hungry, to which either parent will respond with food.[8] Usually only one chick survives to fledging and, typically, sisserou pairs fledge a single chick every other year; however, there have been documented exceptions.[8]

These parrots mate for life and are extremely faithful to each other.[7] They might seek another mate only after mate dies. However, it may grieve to death rather than find a new mate.[7]

Feeding

The sisserou’s diet consists of fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, blossoms and shoots.[2] Their favorite foods include the fruits of Dacryodes species, Licania ternatensis, Richeria grandis, Amanoa carboea, Simarouba amara, Symphonia globulifera, Pouteria pollida, Tapuru atillan, the flowers and seeds of Chimarcis cymosa, and the nuts and young shoots of Euterpe palms.[9] Usually, they feed in the morning and evening.[9]

Distribution and habitat

The imperial amazon is endemic to the Caribbean island nation of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles where it inhabits mountain forest areas above 2,100 ft (625 m).[7] It is the island's national bird.[10] The species frequently occurs in the Morne Diablotins in northern Dominica, especially the upper Picard River Valley on the northwest side of the mountain.[6] A small population has been reintroduced in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park.[11]

Imperial amazons are found primarily in mountain rainforest, sometimes in elfin forest.[9] They occur mostly at elevations of 600–1300 m above sea level.[6] However, there have been reports of them at 150 to 300 meters in elevation because of food storage or foraging preferences.[9]

Status and conservation

The imperial amazon is an endangered species. The number of birds has increased in the past few years; however, as of 2012, there were estimated to be only 250 - 350 individuals.[1] There have been many efforts to help the habitat for these parrots. With the help of Dominica’s Forestry, and the Wildlife and Parks Division and the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF), areas such as the Northern Forest Reserve and the Central Forest Reserve are protected.[12] However areas adjacent to the Northern Forest Reserve and the Central Forest Reserve remain unprotected.[12] Efforts are being made to help make other areas of Dominica protected. Many of the organizations have helped create groups of people to raise awareness, provide education, and conduct research.[13] The educational programs held in Dominica have reduced the bird trade.[13] The first successful breeding of this species by humans was conducted in 2011.[12] The captive-bred parrot developed fully in 12 weeks and resembled the wild imperial amazon parrots.[14] No one really knew what the reproductive potential of these parrots was. The imperial amazon has the lowest reproductive potential of any of the Amazona species.[14] The imperial amazon lucked out when it came to extinction because of their reproductive potential and the bird trade that was going on in Dominica. The captive breeding efforts proved to be extremely helpful in the conservation of the species.

Threats

A major cause of population decline has been hurricanes. Hurricane David of August 1979 was one of the strongest that hit Dominica and impacted the population.

Habitat loss is caused by human disturbance in the forest, with selective logging and the deforestation. Illegal animal trading is a big market, and these birds are hunted to be sold on the black market. There was a movement in the 1900s to ban all illegal bird captivity and trading, but foreign traders still try to hunt this bird; some are successful. Plantations cause their habitat to diminish as well, especially the growth of bananas (Snyder et al. 2000). Encroachment has been a big issue as well, and conservationist are trying save the birds' preferred habitat.

Nesting cavity competition with red-necked amazons and owls creates a tough living environment for imperial amazons. They only mate for a couple of months of the year, and guard their nests the rest of the year. A good quality nesting site is key to the survival and upbringing of their offspring.

Imperial amazons are preyed on by boa constrictors, broad-winged hawks, common opossums and rats.

Guadeloupe amazon

The hypothetical or extinct Guadeloupe amazon (A. violacea) may be the same bird as the imperial amazon, if not a close relative. Based on old descriptions alone, the information on the Gaudeloupe amazon, pairs well with what is observed about the imperial amazon. A bone found on Marie-Galante (between Dominica and Guadeloupe) has been assigned to A. violacea and suggests that A. imperialis either inhabited, or was traded between, all three islands in prehistoric times.[15]

References

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Amazona imperialis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "ADW: Amazona imperialis". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  3. ^ "National Bird". Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica. Retrieved 15 September 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Imperial Amazon." Imperial Amazon (Amazona Imperialis). World Parrot Trust. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Psittacidae - Parrots, Parakeets, Macaws, Cockatoos", New Hampshire Public Television. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d Carbone, Jim. Amazona imperialis. 2001. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Sibylle. Imperial Amazon / Imperial Parrot. 22 October 2013.
  8. ^ a b Durand, Stephan. "Two Sisserou Chicks From One Nest: New Discovery by Dominica". Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d Juniper, Tony, and Mike Parr. Parrots: a guide to parrots of the world. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.
  10. ^ "Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis)" Rare Species Conservatory Foundation. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  11. ^ BirdLife. Amazona imperialis. 20. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  12. ^ a b c "Species." Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis). Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Imperial Amazon (Amazona Imperialis)". Imperial Amazon Videos, Photos and Facts. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  14. ^ a b Reillo, PR; Durand, S; Burton, M. "First captive breeding of the imperial parrot (Amazona imperialis)". Zoo Biol. 30: 328–41. PMID 21181874. doi:10.1002/zoo.20374. 
  15. ^ Olson, S. L.; López, E. J. Máiz (2008). "New evidence of Ara autochthones from an archeological site in Puerto Rico: a valid species of West Indian macaw of unknown geographical origin (Aves: Psittacidae)" (pdf)". Caribbean Journal of Science. 44 (2): 215–222. 

External links

  • Media related to Amazona imperialis at Wikimedia Commons
  • Fact file - ARKive
  • Species factsheet - BirdLife International
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