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Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix
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This species qualifies as Endangered owing to a very rapid population decline. The population is now so small that lower (but still very significant) rates of decline are likely in the future (Collar et al. 1992).

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.

35-38 cm. Nominate race green with yellow head, thighs and carpal area. White orbital ring. Red bend of wing and speculum. Dark blue tips to flight feathers. Yellow tips to tail with red marks on base of outer feathers (tresmariae subspecies has yellow extending on to chest and glucose wash to underparts). Immature has yellow restricted to crown, lores, ear-coverts and throat. Subspecies belizensis and "guatemalensis" resemble immature nominate but have greyish orbital ring and lack yellow on throat. Yellow can be only forecrown patch and flecking on nape. Voice Raucous, rolled screams.

Distribution and population
Amazona oratrix has undergone a dramatic population decline, judged at 90% since the mid-1970s, to 7,000 birds in 1994. There are three subpopulations in Mexico: the race magna in Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Chiapas, Tabasco and Campeche; the nominate race from Jalisco to Oaxaca (Roberson and Carratello 1997); and the race tresmariae on the Islas Marías. The race belizensis was widespread in coastal Belize, but is now primarily restricted to central and north-west areas (Clay 1999), mostly in pine-oak forests along the coastal plains (B. Miller in litt. 2007). There is an old report and a 1993 record from Petén, Guatemala (Clay 1999), and "guatemalensis" occurs from Punta Manabique to extreme north-west Honduras (Lousada and Howell 1996). There are conflicting reports that tresmariae is stable (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1998) and under considerable threat (Low 1995b). On the coast of Michoacán, Mexico, it has been calculated that the species occupies 45.6% of its estimated historic distribution (Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2007). Based on intensive field surveys during 2001-2007, it was verified that the species's range has contracted in Colima state, and it has been extirpated in 11 municipalities in coastal Guerrero state (from Tecpan de Galeana to Marquelia) (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007). The combined range decline for Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero is estimated at 3,990 km2  (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007). Its Mexican coastal Pacific range may now cover 18,957 km2 split into three fragments (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2010). The population at Punta de Manabique declined by 30% to 70 individuals from 1994 to 2001 primarily because of nest poaching (Eisermann 2003, Eisermann in litt. 2007).

Population justification
The population was estimated at 7,000 individuals in 1994. This is roughly equivalent to 4,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population is estimated to be in very rapid decline, owing to habitat loss and degradation and levels of trapping and persecution. It suffered a dramatic population decline, judged at 90% between the mid-1970s and 1994. On the coast of Michoacán, Mexico, it has been calculated that the species occupies 45.6% of its estimated historic distribution (Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2007). Along the entire Pacific coast of Mexico its historical range has contracted by 79% (Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2010). The population at Punta de Manabique declined by 30% from 1994 to 2001 primarily because of nest poaching (Eisermann 2003, Eisermann in litt. 2007).

It inhabits dense thorn-forest, savanna, tall deciduous forest and humid riverine woodland, occasionally up to 500 m. Birds favour semi-arid regions in the northern Atlantic lowlands, but more humid savannas further south. In Belize, it inhabits pine savannas and adjacent evergreen forest patches, and "guatemalensis" occurs in coastal scrub, palm savanna and mangroves (Lousada and Howell 1996, Eisermann 2003). Food privation and fire cause occasional wanderings. It nests in tree-cavities and in snags of Roystonea palms (Eisermann 2003), with breeding occurring in February-June. Along the Michoacan Pacific coast in Mexico, the species nests in Astronium graveolens, Brosimum allicastrum and at least five other tree species (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007). Nesting success is only 0.5 fledglings per nest (E. C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich in litt. 1994). It feeds on fruit from wild and cultivated trees.

Habitat loss has been extensive, with 80% of the Tamaulipas lowlands cleared for agriculture and pasture, and increasing settlement along the Western Highway in Belize (Somerville 1997). In Belize, where much of the suitable habitat lies outside the national protected area system, the regions occupied by the species remain under heavy development pressure (B. Miller in litt. 2007). Palm savannahs at the only known breeding site in Guatemala are used for non-intensive cattle-grazing (Eisermann 2003), which continues to be a threat here (Fundary et al. 2006). Many thousands of individuals of this species are illegally exported from Mexico and some from Belize each year, and it is popular in domestic markets (Low 1995b, Miller and Miller 1997, Somerville 1997). Illegal domestic traffic is intense in Mexico and may account for 38% of the species's recent distributional loss (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007). In the Mexican states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Oaxaca, it is mainly nestlings that are taken for the pet trade (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007). In Guatemala, it is reported that local military authorities are complicit in the illegal trade of this species, and nest poachers are reported to frequent the species's nesting site (Eisermann 2003, Eisermann in litt. 2007). In addition, hunting for food by local fishermen has been reported from Guatemala (Eisermann 2003, Eisermann in litt. 2007). In Belize, it is hunted and persecuted for damaging crops (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1998) and is still a victim of the illicit pet trade, capture for which involves the cutting down of nesting trees (B. Miller in litt. 2007). Its range around coastal Michoacán is estimated to have declined by 1,507 km2, of which 576 km2 can not be attributed to habitat loss and thus may be due to poaching for trade (Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2007).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. In Mexico it occurs in nine protected areas (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007). The race magna occurs in El Cielo, Los Tuxtlas, Pantanos de Centla and Laguna de Terminos Biosphere Reserves. The race tresmarieae is protected in the Islas Marias Biosphere Reserve. The race oratrix occurs in Chamela-Cuixmala Reserve, on the Lagunas de Chacahua, Huatulco National Park, and on the recently created Zicuiran-Infiernillo Biosphere Reserve in Michoacan (T. Monterrubio-Rico et al. in litt. 2007), as well as seven protected areas in Belize (E. C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich in litt. 1994, Miller and Miller 1997, Snyder et al. 2000). The only breeding population known in Guatemala was declared a wildlife refuge in 2005, but effective protection is difficult due to organised crime in the area (Eisermann in litt. 2007). There are several country-wide awareness campaigns in Mexico (Roberson and Carratello 1997). It is bred in captivity, but the reintroduction of captive-bred birds is unfeasible (Low 1995b). Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain an up-to-date estimate of the population size. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation. Monitor levels of hunting, capture and trade. Enforce trade restrictions. Effectively protect key sites such as Las Colorados Ranch, Soto La Marina/La Pesca, (Tamaulipas), río Naranjo, centred on Las Abritas (San Luis Potosí) and Punta de Manabique. Survey to identify additional important sites. Research habitat use and local movements. Continue to expand awareness campaigns.  Develop structured captive-breeding programmes and research the possibility of future release.

Clay, R. P. 1999. A record of the belizensis subspecies of Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix from the Petén, northern Guatemala. Cotinga 11: 20.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Eisermann, K. 2003. Status and conservation of the Yellow-headed Parrot Amazona oratrix "guatemalensis" on the Atlantic coast of Guatemala. Bird Conservation International 13: 359-364.

Fundación Mario Dary Rivera, Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, The Nature Conservancy. 2006. Plan de conservación de área 2007-2011 Refugio de Vida Silvestre Punta de Manabique . FUNDARY-PROARCA-TNC, Guatemala.

Lousada, S. A.; Howell, S. N. G. 1996. Distribution, variation, and conservation of Yellow-headed Parrots in northern Central America. Cotinga: 46-53.

Low, R. 1995. Die Zucht der Doppelgelbkopfamazone. Voliere 18: 33-39.

Miller, B. W.; Miller, C. M. 1997. Avian risk assessment: bird species of conservation concern (Belize).

Monterrubio-Rico, T. C.; Renton, K.; Ortega-Rodríguez, J. M.; Pérez-Arteaga, A.; Cancino-Murillo, R. 2010. The Endangered Yellow-headed Parrot Amazona oratrix along the Pacific coast of Mexico. Oryx 44(4): 602-609.

Monterrubio-Rico, T. C.; Villaseñor-Gómez, L. E.; Marín-Togo, M. C.; López-Cordova, E. A.; Fabian-Turja, B.; Sorani-Dalbon, V. 2007. Distribución historica y actual del Loro cabeza amarilla (Amazona oratrix) en la costa central del Pacífico Mexicano: ventajas y limitaciones en el uso de GARP en especies bajo fuerte presión de tráfico. Ornitologia Neotropical 18(2): 263-276.

Roberson, D.; Carratello, R. 1997. Updates to the avifauna of Oaxaca, Mexico. Cotinga: 21-22.

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.

Somerville, M. 1997. Yellow-headed Parrot in danger from illegal pet trade. Belize Audubon Society Newsletter 29: 9-11.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Taylor, J.

Eisermann, K., Enkerlin-Hoeflich, E., Howell, S., Marín Togo, M., Miller, B., Monterrubio-Rico, T., Téllez García, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Amazona oratrix. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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 - Yellow-headed parrot (Amazona oratrix) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author Ridgway, 1887
Population size 4700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 45,400 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species