Imperial amazon

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Imperial amazon
Amazona imperialis -Roseau -Dominica -aviary-6a-3c.jpg
At the Parrot Conservation and Research Centre, Roseau, Dominica
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: Amazona
A. imperialis
Binomial name
Amazona imperialis
Richmond, 1899

The imperial amazon (Amazona imperialis) or Dominican amazon, also known as the sisserou, is a parrot found only on the Caribbean island of Dominica. [2] It has been designated as the national bird of Dominica. [3]

Parrot Order of birds

Parrots, also known as psittacines, are birds of the roughly 393 species in 92 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea, the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and the Strigopoidea. Parrots have a generally pantropical distribution with several species inhabiting temperate regions in the Southern Hemisphere, as well. The greatest diversity of parrots is in South America and Australasia.

Caribbean Region to the center-east of America composed of many islands / coastal regions surrounding the Caribbean Sea

The Caribbean is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

Dominica country in the Caribbean

Dominica, officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island country in the West Indies. The capital, Roseau, is located on the western side of the island. It is part of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The island is located near Guadeloupe to the northwest and Martinique to the south-southeast. Its area is 750 km2 (290 sq mi), and the highest point is Morne Diablotins, at 1,447 m (4,747 ft) in elevation. The population was 71,293 at the 2011 census.



Illustration of the imperial amazon parrot by English zoologist David William Mitchell Amazona imperialis Mitchell.jpg
Illustration of the imperial amazon parrot by English zoologist David William Mitchell

The imperial amazon measures an average of 48 cm (19 in) in length. [4] With males weighing an average of 900 g (32 oz) and females 650 g (23 oz), the species is large for its genus. [4]

Being of the family Psittacidae, the sisserou has zygodactyl feet and a thick, hooked bill with a muscular tongue. [5] This bill is fashioned in such a way that, using its hinged mandibles and tongue, the sisserou can easily move food around in its mouth. [5]

Males and females have identical plumage: the chest is a dark shade of purple, and the upper parts and feathers are a dark shade of green, with black-edged feather tips. [4] The eye-ring is dark brown, with the eye being a mix of orange and red. [4] Juvenile appearance does not differ much, with a higher occurrence of green plumage and strictly brown eyes. [4]


The call of the sisserou resides in the higher frequencies, a loud and even "squeaky" mix between shriek, squawk, and trill. [4] They are shy, difficult to approach, and usually travel in groups of three or fewer. [4] [6] They sometimes flock together with red-necked amazons. [6] They are good climbers and strong flyers with powerful wings. [7] They prefer to perch on the tops of trees. [7] They are difficult to detect, as they are well camouflaged by their plumage. [2]

Red-necked amazon species of bird

The red-necked amazon, also known as the red-necked parrot, Dominican blue-faced amazon, lesser Dominican amazon, and Jaco parrot, is an amazon parrot endemic to Dominica.


Between February and April, nesting occurs and the female will lay a clutch of two white eggs in a deep cavity inside a rainforest tree, [4] returning to the same tree year after year. For 26–28 days, the female will incubate the eggs. [4] During fledging, which occurs between June and early September, both parents will take care of and feed the chicks until they are fully feathered and ready to leave the nest. [4] The chicks use typical "begging calls" when hungry, to which either parent will respond with food. [8] Usually only one chick survives to fledging and, typically, sisserou pairs fledge a single chick every other year; however, there have been documented exceptions. [8]

These parrots mate for life and are extremely faithful to each other. [7] They might seek another mate only after a mate dies. However, the bird may grieve to death rather than find a new mate. [7]


The sisserou’s diet consists of fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, blossoms and palm shoots. [2] Their favorite foods include the fruits of Dacryodes species, Licania ternatensis , Richeria grandis , Amanoa carboea , Simarouba amara , Symphonia globulifera , Pouteria pollida , Tapuru atillan , the flowers and seeds of Chimarcis cymosa , and the nuts and young shoots of Euterpe palms. [9] Usually, they feed in the morning and evening. [9]

Distribution and habitat

On the flag of Dominica Flag of Dominica.svg
On the flag of Dominica

The imperial amazon is endemic to the Caribbean island nation of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles where it inhabits mountain forest areas above 2,100 ft (625 m). [7] It is the island's national bird. [10] The species frequently occurs in the Morne Diablotins in northern Dominica, especially the upper Picard River Valley on the northwest side of the mountain. [6] A small population has been reintroduced in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. [11]

Imperial amazons are found primarily in mountain rainforest, sometimes in elfin forest. [9] They occur mostly at elevations of 600–1300 m above sea level. [6] However, there have been reports of them at 150 to 300 meters in elevation because of food storage or foraging preferences. [9]

Status and conservation

The imperial amazon is an endangered species. The number of birds has increased in the past few years; however, as of 2012, there were estimated to be only 250—350 individuals. [1] There have been many efforts to help the habitat for these parrots. With the help of Dominica’s Forestry, and the Wildlife and Parks Division and the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF), areas such as the Northern Forest Reserve and the Central Forest Reserve are protected. [12] However areas adjacent to the Northern Forest Reserve and the Central Forest Reserve remain unprotected. [12] Efforts are being made to help make other areas of Dominica protected. Many of the organizations have helped create groups of people to raise awareness, provide education, and conduct research. [13] The educational programs held in Dominica have reduced the bird trade. [13] The first successful breeding of this species by humans was conducted in 2011. [12] The captive-bred parrot developed fully in 12 weeks and resembled the wild imperial amazon parrots. [14] No one really knew what the reproductive potential of these parrots was. The imperial amazon has the lowest reproductive potential of any of the Amazona species. [14]


A major cause of population decline has been hurricanes. Hurricane David of August 1979 was one of the strongest that hit Dominica and impacted the population. Another hit was by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, which caused extensive damage on the island, affecting habitat.

Habitat loss is caused by human disturbance in the forest, with selective logging and the deforestation. Illegal animal trading is a big market, and these birds are hunted to be sold on the black market. In the 1900s there were efforts to ban all illegal bird captivity and trading, but foreign traders still try to hunt this bird; some are successful. The development of plantations has also reduced their habitat, especially the cultivation of bananas (Snyder et al. 2000). Encroachment of human development has been a big issue as well, and conservationist are trying save the birds' preferred habitat.

Nesting cavity competition with red-necked amazons and owls creates a tough living environment for imperial amazons. They mate only for a couple of months of the year, and guard their nests the rest of the year. A good quality nesting site is key to the survival and upbringing of their offspring.

Imperial amazons are preyed on by boa constrictors, broad-winged hawks, common opossums and rats.

Guadeloupe amazon

The hypothetical or extinct Guadeloupe amazon (A. violacea) may be the same bird as the imperial amazon, if not a close relative. Based on old descriptions alone, the information on the Gaudeloupe amazon, pairs well with what is observed about the imperial amazon. A bone found on Marie-Galante (between Dominica and Guadeloupe) has been assigned to A. violacea and suggests that A. imperialis either inhabited, or was traded between, all three islands in prehistoric times. [15]

Related Research Articles

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Amazon parrot is the common name for a parrot of the genus Amazona. These are medium-sized parrots native to the New World ranging from South America to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Spixs macaw the smallest living blue macaw in the world

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Scarlet macaw species of bird

The scarlet macaw is a large red, yellow, and blue Central and South American parrot, a member of a large group of Neotropical parrots called macaws. It is native to humid evergreen forests of tropical Central and South America. Range extends from south-eastern Mexico to the Peruvian Amazon, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Brazil in lowlands of 500 m (1,640 ft) up to 1,000 m (3,281 ft). In some areas, it has suffered local extinction because of habitat destruction or capture for the parrot trade, but in other areas it remains fairly common. Formerly it ranged north to southern Tamaulipas. It can still be found on the island of Coiba. It is the national bird of Honduras. Like its relative the blue-and-yellow macaw, scarlet macaws are popular birds in aviculture as a result of their striking plumage.

Hyacinth macaw species of bird

The hyacinth macaw, or hyacinthine macaw, is a parrot native to central and eastern South America. With a length of about 100 cm (3.3 ft) it is longer than any other species of parrot. It is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species, though the flightless kakapo of New Zealand can outweigh it at up to 3.5 kg. While generally easily recognized, it could be confused with the smaller Lear's macaw. Habitat loss and the trapping of wild birds for the pet trade have taken a heavy toll on their population in the wild, so the species is classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, and it is protected by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Blue-throated macaw species of bird

The blue-throated macaw, also known as the Caninde macaw or Wagler's macaw, is a macaw endemic to a small area of north-central Bolivia, known as Los Llanos de Moxos. In 2014 this species was designated by law as a natural patrimony of Bolivia, where it is known as barba azul, which means 'blue beard' in Spanish. Recent population and range estimates suggests that about 350–400 individuals remain in the wild. The main causes of their demise is capture for the pet trade. It is currently considered critically endangered and the parrot is protected by trading prohibitions.

Puerto Rican amazon A parrot. The only extant bird endemic to Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican amazon, also known as the Puerto Rican parrot or iguaca, is the only extant parrot endemic to the archipelago of Puerto Rico, and belongs to the Neotropical genus Amazona. Measuring 28–30 cm (11.0–11.8 in), the bird is a predominantly green parrot with a red forehead and white rings around the eyes. Two subspecies have been described, although there are doubts regarding the distinctiveness of the form gracilipes from Culebra Island, extinct since 1912. Its closest relatives are believed to be the Cuban amazon and the Hispaniolan amazon.

Lilac-crowned parrot species of bird

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Lesser Antillean macaw Extinct bird from the Caribbean

The Lesser Antillean macaw or Guadeloupe macaw is a hypothetical extinct species of macaw that is thought to have been endemic to the Lesser Antillean island region of Guadeloupe. In spite of the absence of conserved specimens, many details about the Lesser Antillean macaw are known from several contemporary accounts, and the bird is the subject of some illustrations. Austin Hobart Clark described the species on the basis of these accounts in 1905. Due to the lack of physical remains, and the possibility that sightings were of macaws from the South American mainland, doubts have been raised about the existence of this species. A phalanx bone from the island of Marie-Galante confirmed the existence of a similar-sized macaw inhabiting the region prior to the arrival of humans and was correlated with the Lesser Antillean macaw in 2015. Later that year, historical sources distinguishing between the red macaws of Guadeloupe and the scarlet macaw of the mainland were identified, further supporting its validity.

Yellow-billed amazon species of bird

The yellow-billed amazon, also called the Jamaican amazon, is a species of parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is a predominantly green parrot with a short tail and pink throat and neck. It is endemic to Jamaica, where its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, plantations, and rural gardens. It is threatened by habitat loss and illegal trapping of wild birds for the pet trade.

Kawalls amazon species of bird

Kawall's amazon, also known as the white-faced amazon, white-cheeked amazon or Kawall's parrot, is a relatively large species of parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is endemic to the south-central Amazon. After not having been recorded in the wild for around 70 years, the species was rediscovered in the 1980s.

Martinique amazon Hypothetical species of bird

The Martinique amazon is a hypothetical extinct species of Caribbean parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is not known from any material remains, but was said to be similar to the red-necked amazon from Dominica, the next major island to the north of Martinique. Natives are known to have traded extensively in parrots between the Antilles, and it seems that the Martinique population was in some way related to or even descended from A. arausiaca.

Red-browed amazon species of bird

The red-browed amazon is a species of parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is endemic to Atlantic Forest in eastern Brazil. It has been considered a subspecies of the blue-cheeked amazon, but today all major authorities consider them separate species. It is threatened both by habitat loss and by being captured for the trade in wild parrots.

Tucumán amazon species of bird

The Tucumán amazon, also known as the alder amazon, is a species of parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is mainly green and has red at the front of its head above its pale beak. It is found in woodland in the Yungas of Argentina and Bolivia. It is threatened by habitat loss and capture for the parrot trade.

Hispaniolan amazon species of bird

The Hispaniolan amazon or Hispaniolan parrot is a species of parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is found on Hispaniola, and has been introduced to Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Guadeloupe amazon Extinct species of parrot from the Caribbean

The Guadeloupe amazon or Guadeloupe parrot is a hypothetical extinct species of parrot that is thought to have been endemic to the Lesser Antillean island region of Guadeloupe. Mentioned and described by 17th and 18th century writers, it received a scientific name in 1789. It was moved to the genus Amazona in 1905, and is thought to have been related to, or possibly the same as, the extant imperial amazon. A tibiotarsus and an ulna bone from the island of Marie-Galante may belong to the Guadeloupe amazon. In 1905, a species of extinct violet macaw was also claimed to have lived on Guadeloupe, but in 2015 it was suggested to have been based on a description of the Guadeloupe amazon.

There are numerous species of plants and animals on the island of Dominica. Some of these are island endemics, while others are also found on other Caribbean islands; some are also found on the mainland.

Martinique macaw species of bird

The Martinique macaw or orange-bellied macaw is a hypothetical extinct species of macaw which may have been endemic to the Lesser Antillean island of Martinique, in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It was scientifically named by Walter Rothschild in 1905, based on a 1630s description of "blue and orange-yellow" macaws by Jacques Bouton. No other evidence of its existence is known, but it may have been identified in contemporary artwork. Some writers have suggested that the birds observed were actually blue-and-yellow macaws. The "red-tailed blue-and-yellow macaw", another species named by Rothschild in 1907 based on a 1658 account, is thought to be identical to the Martinique macaw, if either has ever existed.

Diademed amazon species of bird

The diademed amazon is a parrot in the family Psittacidae formerly considered conspecific with the red-lored amazon. Amazona diadema is restricted to the state of Amazonas in north-western Brazil.

Northern mealy amazon species of bird

The northern mealy amazon or northern mealy parrot is among the largest parrots in the genus Amazona, the amazon parrots. It is a mainly green parrot with a total length of 38–41 cm (15–16 in). It is endemic to tropical Central America. This species and the southern mealy amazon were previously considered conspecific. Some taxonomic authorities (including the American Ornithological Society, continue to lump them together.


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  3. "National Bird". Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
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  11. BirdLife. Amazona imperialis. 20 Archived 2012-11-11 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  12. 1 2 3 "Species." Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis). Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  13. 1 2 "Imperial Amazon (Amazona Imperialis)" Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine . Imperial Amazon Videos, Photos and Facts. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
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  15. Olson, S. L.; López, E. J. Máiz (2008). "New evidence of Ara autochthones from an archeological site in Puerto Rico: a valid species of West Indian macaw of unknown geographical origin (Aves: Psittacidae)" (pdf)". Caribbean Journal of Science. 44 (2): 215–222.