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Imperial Amazon Parrot

Known also by its scientific name of Amazona imperialis, this Caribbean parrot is also referred to as the Sisserou Express, which is after the Imperial Amazon’s local name.  While many parrots are beautiful, the Imperial Amazon Parrot is truly spectacular.  As the largest of the Amazona species, it is also one of the rarest parrots in the entire world. 

Both the male and female look similar in appearance.  For example, they both have a dark maroon/purple coloring on the head with green/blue feathers.  The ear coverts are a red/brown color and the cheeks maroon.  The upper portion of the Imperial Amazon Parrot is green but the edges of the feathers are red.  Interestingly, when this parrot takes off in flight, the red color shows up as a purple/blue.  Then on the underside of the feathers are black fringes.  For the tail, this is red with a green/blue tip. 

Unlike some other species of parrots, the young Imperial Amazon Parrot looks much like the mature bird.  The only real difference is that the younger bird has more green in the head color.  In addition, the real, young parrots have brown plumage that changes as they mature.  For the call of the Imperial Amazon Parrot, it sounds much like that of a trumpet.  This sound is made during flight while when not in flight, the parrot makes other noises to include whistles and squawks. 

Today, the Imperial Amazon Parrot is found only in the slopes of the Morne Diablotin volcano and central forests.  Over the years, we have seen a dramatic decline in the number of these parrots with just 80 to 100 being counted for 10 years ago.  The terrain where the parrot lives is very rugged.  Typically, the nests are found in trees on steep slopes.  Unfortunately, food supply is short, meaning the birds have to travel great distances to forage. 

Strangely, little is known about the ecology of the Imperial Amazon Parrot.  We do know that the nests are built in tree cavities, much like other parrots, with the exception that the cavities are often concealed with plants or vines.  Breeding of this species occurs between February and June, the dry season.  During the entire year, the Imperial Amazon Parrots will strongly defend their territory and in some cases, the birds will only breed every other year, producing just one or two eggs. 

With the decline of natural habitat, many forests now being converted to plantations, coupled with hurricanes and pet trade, we see the number of Imperial Amazon Parrots going down.  However, with new education programs, we have begun to see the threat of foreign “collectors” also going down.  While much still needs to be done to get the Imperial Amazon Parrot out of risk, some positive steps have been made.  The process will be slow and painful but if people and programs continue being supportive, we feel relatively, confident the Imperial Amazon Parrot will survive and someday, thrive.  

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