Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012 [note that this has been moved back by about two months].
Yellow-naped Amazon Amazona auropalliata is found in Middle America, along the Pacific slope of the isthmus in southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and north-western Costa Rica, and the Caribbean slope in eastern Honduras and north-eastern Nicaragua. It inhabits semi-arid woodland, arid scrub and savannas, mangroves, clearings in deciduous forest, Pacific swamp-forest, evergreen gallery forest and sometimes secondary growth in agricultural landscapes (Juniper and Parr 1998, R. Bjork in litt. 2011). It is currently listed as Least Concern, as it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria.
This species has a large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline was not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).
The species is regarded as declining, probably throughout its range, owing to habitat loss and degradation, driven primarily by the expansion of agriculture, and capture for local and international trade (Juniper and Parr 1998, Anon. 2008). An estimated population decline of c.50% from c.1980 to 2000 has been reported (Anon. 2008), although this requires confirmation. Deforestation has been a prevalent threat in all range states (Grijalva 2008). For example, mangrove forests in the Gulf of Fonseca region are being cleared for the development of aquaculture and extraction of firewood and timber (Grijalva 2008). In Honduras, the species has been recorded as being c.93% less common in modified habitats, such as cultivation, compared to broadleaved forest (Wiedenfeld 1993).
This species is considered one of the most sought-after psittacines in the Central American pet trade (Wiedenfeld 1993, R. Bjork in litt. 2011), owing to the species’s vocal capabilities (Wiedenfeld 1993, J. Gilardi in litt. 2011). During the 1990s, close to 100% of known nests in southern Guatemala were subject to poaching (L. Joyner in litt. 2011). In south-western El Salvador the species also suffers heavy nest-poaching, as well as a high rate of cavity infestation by Africanised Bees (R. Bjork in litt. 2011). It has been reported that each year c.5,000 young A. auropalliata are smuggled out of La Mosquitia region, Honduras (per O. Andino in litt. 2011), although this has not been verified. Such numbers would not be unrealistic given that, on average, 8,388 birds were recorded in export from Honduras each year in the period 1987-1989 (Wiedenfeld 1993). The numbers of this species that are recorded in export from Nicaragua appear to be decreasing (Lezama et al. 2004); however, nest poaching is still high and thought to affect over 50% of nests in Rivas department (M. Lezama in litt. 2011). In Costa Rica, roughly a third of nests were raided in one study, accounting for c.85% of the all nest failures observed (Wright et al. 2001, Grijalva 2008), although in one study conducted near Liberia in north-western Costa Rica, up to 100% of the nests located by researchers at study sites had been poached (A. Salinas in litt. 2011). It is thought that twice as many are taken from the wild than are recorded in export, based on a mortality rate of 54% during capture and transit (Pérez and Zúñiga 1998 in Grijalva 2008), although a survival rate of 1 in 3 or 4 has also been reported (per O. Andino in litt. 2011). Anthropogenic threats are thought to exacerbate the effects of poor rates of recruitment to the breeding population (Grijalva 2008).
Preliminary surveys and observations suggest that the population in southern Guatemala has plummeted since the 1990s (L. Joyner in litt. 2011). The comparison of counts at one roost in 1993-1995 and 2009-2011 show that the numbers of birds using it have declined by c.90%, although the possibility that there is now a new roost site in the area has not been eliminated (L. Joyner in litt. 2011). The species is listed as Endangered at the national level in El Salvador due to large reductions in its range and population (MARN 2009). Interviews with local elders in south-western El Salvador provide anecdotal evidence that the species has undergone a significant decline over the past 50-60 years (R. Bjork in litt. 2011). In the early 1990s, the population in Gracias a Dios, Honduras, was estimated at c.123,000 birds; however, by this time the species had been nearly extirpated from Choluteca and El Valle (Wiedenfeld 1993). Surveys in Nicaragua indicate a steep decline in the species’s abundance between 1994-1995 and 2004 (Lezama et al. 2004), and locals in some areas report that the species has disappeared from the vicinity of human settlements (Grijalva 2008). The population in Costa Rica also appears to be in decline (T. Wright in litt. 2011). Although this population is regarded as one of the most secure, local people report that the species has declined over the last 30-40 years (A. Salinas in litt. 2011).
The severity and prevalence of threats to this species suggest that it has declined at a rate of at least 30% since 1975, i.e. the past three generations, estimated by BirdLife to be c.37 years (based on an estimated generation length of c.12.3 years), potentially qualifying the species for uplisting to Vulnerable under criterion A (reduction of 30-49% over ten years or three generations, whichever is longer). A rate of decline suspected to be at least 50% over the same time frame would probably qualify the species as Endangered (50-79% decline). A suspected decline exceeding 80% over the same time period would likely qualify the species for uplisting to Critically Endangered. The same rate thresholds apply to declines projected over the next three generations (2012-2049: criterion A3) and a three-generation period stretching from the past to the future (e.g. 1993-2030: criterion A4).
Comments are invited on the potential uplisting of this species to Vulnerable, and further information is requested on the severity of threats and likely rate of decline over the last 37 years and projected rate of decline over the next 37 years. The submission of survey data from various parts of the species’s range would greatly assist in the estimation of the total population size, ideally as the number of mature individuals (those actually breeding and capable of breeding), as its population is currently presumed to greatly exceed 10,000 mature individuals.
Anon. (2008) Yellow-naped Parrots under threat in Nicaragua. Cyanopsitta 91: 14-15.
Grijalva, A. E. A. (2008) Monitoreo de la “lora nuca amarilla” (Amazona aurocapilliata) como especie clave y estabecimiento de sitios importantes para su conservación en el area de conservación Bahía de Jiquilisco, Usulután. San Salvador, El Salvador: Miniterio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales.
Juniper, T. and Parr, M. (1998) Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Robertsbridge, UK: Pica Press.
Lezama, M., Vilchez, S., Mayorga M. and Castellón, R. (2004) Monitoreo de Psitácidos, 2004 – Estado Actual y Conservación. Managua, Nicaragua: Univesidad Centroamericana.
MARN (2009) Acuerdo No. 36. – Listado oficial de especies de vida silvestre amenazadas o en peligro de extinción. Diario Oficial de El Salvador 383, 103. San Salvador: Ministerio de Gobernación.
Wiedenfeld, D. A. (1993) Status and management of Psittacines in northeastern Honduras. Unpublished report to CITES Secretariat, COHDEFOR and TRAFFIC, USA.
Wright et al. (2001) Nest Poaching in Neotropical Parrots. Cons. Biol. 15: 710-720.