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Cuban Amazon Amazona leucocephala
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Near Threatened because, although it is not as rare as once feared, the overall population is still moderately small and continues to decline owing mainly to trapping and destruction of nest sites. it has a small range, but this is not yet severely fragmented or restricted to few locations.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

28-33 cm. A large green parrot with pale red chin, throat and lower face, white forehead and eye-ring and blue primaries. Similar spp. No other Amazona parrot occurs sympatrically. Voice Very noisy; a wide variety of squawks and screeches with variation between populations. Hints Best located by noisy calls, often seen flying over forest.

Distribution and population
Amazona leucocephala occurs on Cuba (including the Isle of Pines), the Bahamas (where it was formerly widespread but now restricted to Abaco and Great Inagua), and the Cayman Islands (to UK) (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and formerly Little Cayman) (Bond 1979, King 1981, Sibley and Monroe 1990). In Cuba, it was widespread but has declined and is now restricted to Guanahacabibes peninsula, Zapata peninsula (where it is still common), Macizo de Guamuhaya, Loma de Cunagua, Sierra de Najasa, and the forests of the western Sierra Maestra and Cuchillas del Toa (Juniper and Parr 1998, Galvez-Aguilera et al. 1999, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999). Surveys in 1988 put the Cuban population at 5,000 individuals (Collar 1997a) but this was probably an underestimate and the total population there is now thought to be more than 10,000 individuals and perhaps stable. There were 1,900 on Grand Cayman in 1995, an increase (from 1,500 in 1992) possibly associated with legal protection from hunting (Collar 1997a). Numbers on Cayman Brac, Great Inagua and Abaco are apparently stable at c.300-430 birds (Collar 1997a, Juniper and Parr 1998, Snyder et al. 2000), c.400-500, and 1,100-1,200 (Snyder et al. 2000) respectively.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon to fairly common' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
There are no new data on population trends, but the species is suspected to be declining slowly, owing mainly to the capture of nestlings for the local cage-bird trade.

It inhabits different habitats on different islands. In Cuba it inhabits dense woodland, in the Bahamas, native broadleaf and pine woodlands, and in the Cayman Islands (to UK), dry forest on the ridge-top plateau and nearby agricultural land (Bond 1979, King 1981, Sibley and Monroe 1990). The population on Abaco is particularly interesting because it nests in natural holes in limestone substrate on the ground (O'Brien et al. 2006). There, chicks and adults are completely insulated from the frequent fires required by their fire-dependent pine forest habitat (O'Brien et al. 2006). Birds move to native broadleaf forests in the non-breeding season to feed on berries during the non-breeding season (Stahala and Stafford 2004).

It is trapped for the domestic, and formerly at least, international cage bird trade. Nest trees are often pushed over or nest cavities enlarged to extract chicks, rendering them useless for future breeding attempts. Housing development threatens the non-breeding habitat of the Abaco population.

Conservation Actions Underway
Artificial nests have been used in Cuba by over 1,300 birds (Waugh 2006). Those made of artificial materials have proved more durable (Waugh 2006). Conservation Actions Proposed
Discourage the taking of birds from the wild through public education campaigns. Encourage better bird-keeping practices to increase longevity of captive birds and reduce demand on wild populations. On Abaco, protect vital tracts of broadleaf forests. On Cuba, make and erect more artificial nests. Monitor population trends throughout its range.

Bond, J. 1979. Birds of the West Indies. Collins, London.

Collar, N. J. 1997. Psittacidae (Parrots). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 280-477. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Gálvez-Aguilera, X.; Berovides-Alvarez, V.; Wiley, J. W.; Rivera Rosales, J. 1999. Population size of Cuban Parrots Amazona leucocephala and Sandhill Cranes Grus canadensis and community involvement in their conservation in northern Isla de la Juventud, Cuba. Bird Conservation International 9: 97-112.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Juniper, T.; Parr, M. 1998. Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

King, W. B. 1981. Endangered birds of the world: the ICBP bird Red Data Book. Smithsonian Institution Press and International Council for Bird Preservation [bound reissue of King 1978-1979], Washington, D.C.

O'Brien, J.J., Stahala, C., Mori, G.R., Callaham, M.A. and Bergh, C.M. 2006. Effects of prescribed fire on conditions inside a Cuban parrot (Amazona leucocephala) surrogate nesting cavity on Great Abaco, Bahamas. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 118(4): 508-512.

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Snyder, N.; McGowan, P.; Gilardi, J.; Grajal, A. 2000. Parrots: status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Stahala, C.; Stafford, M. L. 2004. Caribbean underground: Bahama parrots in the wild. PsittaScene 16: 2-5.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Waugh, D. 2006. Hilfe fur die Papageien in Zentral-Kuba. Papageien: 319-322.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C J & Wege, D.

Kirkconnell, A. & Mitchell, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Amazona leucocephala. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Cuban Amazon (Amazona leucocephala) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size U mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 17,600 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species