Saint Lucia Amazon
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The Saint Lucia Amazon Parrot (Amazona versicolor) is native to the island of St. Lucia in the Lesser Antilles where they inhabit montane forest, tall secondary vegetation and humid forested slopes.
At this point of time they are critically endangered due to habitat destruction and illegal trapping for the pet trade. There are now less than 400 birds existing in their natural habitat with a reduced distribution area of 22 square miles.
Their average length is about 17 - 17.2 inches (43 cm).
The general plumage is green, with each feather having a blackish edging. The lores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird's head), forehead and forecrown are violet-blue turning pale blue on the back of the crown. Most parrots of this species have a variable red band to the breast. The breast feathers have a reddish-brown edging.
The abdomen is brownish-red with green base to feathers; and the lower abdomen and thighs are pale green.
The edge of the wings, the under wing-coverts, under tail-coverts and upper tail-coverts are yellowish-green. The primaries (= longest wing feathers) are violet-blue; secondaries (shorter, upper "arm" feathers) are green with violet-blue tips; and the outer secondaries have a red speculum (= distinctive wing patch) ; while the primary wing feathers are green with violet-blue tinge and the underside of the wings are greenish-blue. The upperside of the tail-feathers with broad yellowish-green tips; the outer tail-feathers have a reddish base to the inner webs and bluish outer webs. The underside of the tail-feathers are pale green.
The bill is grey with a horn-colored base to upper beak. The irises are orange. Their feet are grey.
Immatures have brown irises.
These parrots are very rare in captivity and a lot is yet to be learned about their breeding requirements. It has been recommended that pairs are isolated in the breeding season as they tend to get aggressive towards other birds during this time. Breeding activities usually start in March and go on until August. The hen lays 1 to 2 eggs which she incubates for 24 days. The young fletch when they are 70 to 77 days old.
They are medium-noisy to noisy and hard chewers, therefore requiring a constant supply of branches to satisfy their urge to chew. Metal construction aviaries / flights are necessary with minimum dimensions being 30 x 9 x 8 ft (10 x 3 x 2.5 m) with adjoining inside area of 9 x 9 x 8 ft (3 x 3 x 2.5 m). A suitable nest box would be 14 x 14 x 48 ins (35 x 35 x 120 cm).
Amazon ownership generally presents multiple challenges, such as excessive chewing - especially at certain stages in their life. They do discover their beaks as method of "disciplining us" once they are out of the "baby stage" and they can generally be somewhat naughty, and it really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established. Aggressive behavior is especially common in "hormonal" amazons. Undisciplined amazons will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. They regard anything in your home as a "toy" that can be explored and chewed on; destroying items that you may hold dear or are simply valuable.
Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation.
Behavioral challenges of the amazon parrots may include:
- Excessive Chewing: Any parrot will chew. In nature, they use their beak to "customize" their favorite tree, to enlarge the size of their nest in a tree hollow. Doing this keeps their beaks in good condition. The problem is excessive and undesirable chewing. Undisciplined parrots will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. The owner needs to provide plenty of "healthy" chewing opportunities (bird toys, natural wood branches, etc.) and training is necessary to teach an amazon parrot what is fine to chew on and what is "off-limits."
- Dominant Behavior: Amazon Parrots, as most parrots, are likely to discover their beaks as a method of "disciplining us" once they are out of the "baby stage." It really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
- Hormonal Aggression: Amazon parrots are also known for their "hormonal" aggression phase. This phase usually appears between the ages of 5 to 12 years. During this time there will be one to two years in which they are likely to be very aggressive. Fortunately, once they go through this, they generally settle down with little or no aggression shown outside the breeding season - with some aggression, but to a lesser degree, when they are in breeding condition.
Amazons going through that stage are difficult to handle for many but the most experienced amazon owners. Species such as Lilac Crowns and Mealies are less excitable than other amazon species during the breeding season. Females tend to be calmer than males during this phase. An attack by a hormonal male can be vicious and will not be limited to one bite.
Many bird owners are bewildered by the fact that their previously so cuddly pet suddenly turns on them - their primary caretakers. To add insult to injury, their pet may pick another family member as their favorite. Dr. Jill M. Patt - practicing Veterinarian in Mesa, Arizona - describes this being similar to a wild bird leaving its parents and choosing a mate. She suggests the following ways of dealing with it:
- Understand that this is a natural behavior.
- Have the family member the bird has picked limit their interaction with your bird, spend time with the bird when that family member is absent, and ensure that only you are the one to provide all favorite treats and activities.
- The environment can also be altered somewhat to attempt to reduce breeding behavior. Limiting the daylight hours to mimic a winter sun will often help.
- In some instances, the vet may prescribe drugs that balance out a pet's hormones.
- Click here for more information on reducing hormonal behavior in birds.
- Calling / Voicing / Screaming: Not everybody can tolerate the natural loud call of an amazon, and even though it can't (or should not) be entirely eliminated, there are ways to discourage screaming / screeching. Amazon parrots are excellent talkers though, and their natural loud call can be replaced with human speech with a little bit of training. Fortunately, they are quick learners.
Training is vital to stop this aggressive behavior.
Training and behavioral guidance will help your pet be the kind of companion you want it to be ...
- AvianWeb Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit this website for valuable tips on parrot behavior and training. If you found a way to resolve a "parrot behavioral issue" please share it with others.
- If you are, as I am, a visual learner and prefer step-by-step instructions to train your pet, I recommend:
If you are considering one of these magnificent parrots as pets, please visit the following websites for information:
- The 3 Key Elements to Keep Your Pet Bird Happy & Healthy
- Bird Nutrition ... In the wild, its natural diet consists of seeds, nuts, fruits and plant material. To learn more about the diet of the captive Amazon Parrot, please visit this webpage.
'Species: Scientific: Amazona versicolor ... English: Saint Lucia Amazon ... Dutch: Sint Lucia Amazone, Blauwmaskeramazone ... German: Blauwmasken Amazone ... French: Amazone versicolor, Amazone de Santa Lucia - CITES I - Protected Species
Distribution: St. Lucia in the Caribbean Lesser Antilles
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