May 13, 2012

Yellow-Headed Amazon (Amazona oratrix)

Did you know?

That until a few years ago, the Yellow-crowned parrot was considered a subspecies of Yellow-crowned Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala)? The species “ochrocephala” was then divided into several species, including “oratrix” comprising the subspecies “oratrix”, “belizensis” (with “guatemalensis”) and “tresmariae”.

The Yellow-Headed Amazon has a total length of 35-38 cm and a maximum weight of 500g. The plumage of the nominate subspecies is yellow all over the head and throat. The upper parts are green, while the underparts are yellowish-green. The thighs are also yellow in color.

The flight feathers are green, becoming violet-blue towards the tips. The edge of the carpal is yellow, while the curve of the wing is red with a small amount of yellow. The tail is green with basal lateral rectrices marked with red outer feathers edged with blue. The tip of the iris is orange; the base of the beak is gray, particularly in young birds, or horn-colored. The eye ring is whitish, and legs and feet are pale gray. Juveniles have yellow crown, and the iris is brown in color.

Outside the breeding season, the Amazona oratrix have communal roosts and may congregate in large flocks, in which the formation of pairs is remarkable. During the day, they are in small groups of up to ten birds, eating quietly in the treetops. The Amazona oratrix begin to explore the nesting sites in March. Like all Amazons, they nest in cavities and may begin to chew a hole in the trunk of a tree that had been previously used by a woodpecker.

The clutch consists of two to four eggs, which are incubated for 25-26 days by the female alone. The male remains near the entrance of the nest and feeds the female. The Yellow-Headed Amazon regularly feeds on large green nuts that are produced in abundance by the ebony tree. They also are fond of corn and fruit crops.

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