email a friend
printable version
Red-crowned Amazon Amazona viridigenalis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

The combination of high levels of exploitation for the cagebird trade, long-term habitat loss and reduced density estimates indicates that this species is declining very rapidly. It consequently qualifies as Endangered.

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.

33 cm. Green parrot with striking red forehead. Blue postocular stripe extends down sides of neck. Red speculum. Dark blue primaries. Yellow tips to outer-tail feathers. Female and immature have less red on crown. Similar spp. Red-lored Parrot A. autumnalis has yellow on face, slower flight and trilling wee-ee-eee-eet voice. Yellow-headed Parrot A. oratrix has yellow head. Immature separated from adult Lilac-crowned Parrot A. finschi by mainly green crown and fewer black-tipped feathers on underparts. Voice Shrill screaming followed by three lower and ascending notes clee-u crack crack crack. Also other screaming and chattering calls.

Distribution and population
Amazona viridigenalis is locally and seasonally fairly common to common on the Atlantic slope of north-east Mexico (Howell and Webb 1995a), mostly in Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosí, with small colonies in extreme north-east Querétaro (A. G. Navarro in litt. 1998). It formerly occurred in Nuevo León and Veracruz, but there have been no records of wild birds since 1945 and 1960 respectively. In 1992-1994, densities in one area were estimated at 5.7 birds/km2, indicating a wild population of 3,000-6,500 birds (E. C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich in litt. 1994, Enkerlin-Hoeflich 1995). This compares with 25.2 birds/km2 reported in the 1970s (Castro 1976). The population recently established in urban areas of the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Texas), USA, is considered by some to consist of wild birds (T. Brush in litt. 2003). Introduced or feral populations are also established (and mostly increasing) in Florida and California (USA), Puerto Rico (to USA), O'ahu (Hawaii) and several parts of Mexico (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997).

Population justification
In 1992-1994, estimated densities in one area in Mexico indicated a wild population of 3,000-6,500 birds (E. C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich in litt. 1994). This estimate roughly equates to 2,000-4,300 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Historic densities recorded for the species were 25.2 birds/km2 in the 1970s (Castro 1976), falling to 5.7 birds/km2 in one area in 1992-1994 (E. C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich in litt. 1994, Enkerlin-Hoeflich 1995), indicating a decline of up to 77.4% over c.20 years. The decline is suspected to be continuing at a rate exceeding 50% over ten years, owing to the ongoing threats of trapping and forest clearance.

It inhabits lush areas in arid lowlands and foothills, especially gallery forest, deciduous woodland and dry, open pine-oak woodland on ridges up to 1,000 m. Smaller numbers occur in agricultural landscapes with a few large trees. Nests are usually in tree-cavities, with breeding from March-May. Clutches of 2-5 eggs are incubated for 25-31 days (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997). It is nomadic in winter, with large flocks moving south (and apparently north) and to higher elevations. It feeds largely on the fruits of dominant tree species (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997).

In 1970-1982, 16,490 birds (mostly nestlings) were legally imported into the USA. Illegal exports from Mexico and a pre-export mortality of >50% equates to 5,000 birds per year (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997). Trappers damage nests when extracting chicks (sometimes felling entire trees), reducing nest-site availability and leading to permanent site abandonment (Snyder et al. 2000). Many gallery forests have been cleared or degraded, with over 80% of Tamaulipas lowlands cleared for agriculture (especially sorghum) and pasture. Habitat is now patchily distributed on cattle-ranches, where trapping pressure is greatest (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I (1992) and part of the European Endangered [Species] Programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). It occurs in El Cielo and Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserves (A. G. Navarro in litt. 1998, T. Brush in litt. 2003), but there are only small colonies in Sierra Gorda and its status in El Cielo is unknown (Wege and Long 1995, A. G. Navarro in litt. 1998). Ranchers are increasingly aware of the benefits of maintaining large trees, but this is not reflected in practice. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to obtain an estimate for the total population size. Monitor populations to determine the extent of declines. Identify the most important nesting aggregations for protection (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997). Integrate ranchers into efforts to curtail trapping and regenerate habitat (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Castro, A. G. 1976. Estudio de las poblaciones de cotorras frente roja (Amazona viridigenalis) y el loro cabeza amarilla (A. ochrocephala) en la costa de Tamaulipas, México.

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.

Enkerlin-Hoeflich, E. C. 1995. Comparative ecology and reproductive biology of three species of Amazona parrots in northeastern Mexico. dissertation. Ph.D., Texas A&M University, USA.

Enkerlin-Hoeflich, E. C.; Hogan, K. M. 1997. Red-crowned Parrot (Amazona viridigenalis). In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 292, pp. 1-20. The Academy of Natural Sciences, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. EEPs and ESBs. Available at:

Howell, S. N. G.; Webb, S. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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.

Wege, D. C.; Long, A. J. 1995. Key Areas for threatened birds in the Neotropics. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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.

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

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Isherwood, I., Sharpe, C J, Stattersfield, A., Taylor, J.

Brush, T., Enkerlin-Hoeflich, E., Navarro, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Amazona viridigenalis. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

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 - Green-cheeked Amazon (Amazona viridigenalis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author (Cassin, 1853)
Population size 2000-4300 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,800 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species