Amazona aestivablue-fronted parrot

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Geographic Range

Blue-fronted Amazons (Amazona aestiva) are dispersed throughout Amazonia of South America. They frequently occur in major regions of northeastern Brazil, forests of Bolivia, Paraguay, and northern Argentina. Blue-fronted Amazons are no longer found in some areas of southern Argentina. Their populations have diminished recently due to deforestation, and frequent capture for the pet trade. (Aquino and Ferrari, 1990; Fernandes Seixas and de Miranda Mourao, 2002; Fernández-Juricic, et al., 1998)

Habitat

Blue-fronted Amazons nest in trees of varying dimensions. Their nests are located in all main flora environments of the Amazon, such as all types of savannas, riparian woodlands, grasslands, and floodplains. In the Patanal of Mato Grosso do Sul state, Brazil, a study for blue-fronted Amazons concluded that they preferred nesting sites located in disturbed and vastly open areas. They have been found to inhabit elevations of up to 887 m. (Fernandes Seixas and de Miranda Mourao, 2002)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 887 m
    0.00 to 2910.10 ft

Physical Description

Blue-fronted Amazons are sexually monomorphic to the human eye. The human eye is trichromatic and isn’t capable of viewing light in the near-ultraviolet (UV) range. The avian eye is tetrachromatic, able to view a much more diverse range of colors than humans. The use of spectrometry allows humans to view blue-fronted Amazons and various other avian group’s as sexually dimorphic due to their UV reflecting plumage.

Their entire body is mostly composed of vibrant green plumage. Bright blue feathers are located on their crown and yellow wraps around its face and on the tip of their scapulars. Their beaks are mostly black, and juveniles are considerably duller in color and have black irises. The distribution of yellow and blue varies for each bird, but red markings are mostly found on varying places on the wings. Individuals weigh between 275 and 500 g and range from 33 to 38 cm in length. (Santos, et al., 2006)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    275 to 510 g
    9.69 to 17.97 oz
  • Average mass
    400 to 430 g
    oz
  • Range length
    33 to 38 cm
    12.99 to 14.96 in

Reproduction

Blue-fronted Amazons are monogamous, and live in pairs, while continuously interacting with the flock. During breeding season, the mated pairs stay close together while roosting and foraging. Little information could be found on reproductive displays and behavior. (Aquino and Ferrari, 1990; Fernandes Seixas and de Miranda Mourao, 2002)

The breeding period for blue-fronted Amazons is August through September. During this period they lay between 1 and 6 eggs, usually averaging 2 to 3 eggs per clutch during each breeding season. Eggs are incubated for 30 days, and hatching generally occurs between September and October. Chicks weigh between 12 and 22 g when first hatched. Nestlings are fully fledged in November through December, approximately 56 days after hatching. It usually takes about 9 weeks for the chicks to reach independence, and both sexes reach sexual maturity around 2 to 4 years of age. (Fernandes Seixas and de Miranda Mourao, 2002)

  • Breeding interval
    Blue-fronted Amazons breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Blue-fronted Amazons breed from August to December.
  • Range eggs per season
    1 to 6
  • Average eggs per season
    2 to 3
  • Average time to hatching
    30 days
  • Average fledging age
    56 days
  • Average time to independence
    9 weeks
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 to 4 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 4 years

Blue-fronted Amazons are secondary carvers, where they do not create their own cavities, but occupy previously used nesting sites. They tend to nest in live trees of varying species depending on which habitat they occupy. Most of their nests are found in open areas that are near roosting sites and water sources. The female lays an average of 2 to 3 eggs, and incubates them for roughly a month. Since the chicks are altricial, they require constant care from the parents, and are fed via regurgitation. (Fernandes Seixas and de Miranda Mourao, 2002; Vendramin-Gallo, et al., 2001)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • male parental care
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Blue-fronted Amazons are expected to live up to 70 years in captivity. (Leite, et al., 2008)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    70 (high) years

Behavior

Blue-fronted Amazons are monogamous, social birds that stick close to their flock year-round. They are non-migratory birds that may occasionally make local migrations to areas with more abundant resources. They forage in flocks during the non-breeding season, and in mated pairs while breeding. They are diurnal birds, so during the night they roost together in tree-top canopies until morning when they begin to forage. They blend into their surroundings when arboreal, and can only be recognized when they produce their high-pitched calls. (Fernandes Seixas and de Miranda Mourao, 2002)

Home Range

The home range for blue-fronted Amazons is somewhat larger than its immediate territory surrounding their nesting sites during breeding season. Their home range depends on the abundance of food available to them. (Fernandes Seixas and de Miranda Mourao, 2002; Fernandes Seixas and de Miranda Mourao, 2002)

Communication and Perception

The ultraviolet (UV) light reflectance of blue-fronted Amazons' plumage may actually aid in their sexual communication, mate selection, and courting displays.

Nine different vocalizations have been identified for blue-fronted Amazons. Of the nine, six calls are used under various situations such as feeding, flying, contact, and distress. These calls are, “wak-wak”, “wa-wawawa”, transitions, “gugugu”, guturals, and “ka-kaka”. The last three identified calls are used for specific situations. “Waahh” is vocalized in times of aggression, or defense, “grr-uip” during in-flight contact, and songs vocalized for territorial and reproductive circumstances.

Their main call is “wak-wak” and is used all year. It is uttered in sequences, but with no consistent pattern. They use it during lone or group flights, takeoff or landing, distress brought on by intruders, and long or short communication calls with other parrots. The usual distress calls differ during their breeding season. Mating pairs will stay perched, while calling, and calmly fly away from trespassers.

The vocalization, “wa-wawawa” is used all year, but less than the "wak-wak", and the note length for this call is held longer. It is used for lone or group flights, roosting, contact, and landings.

“Gu-gugu” is mostly used nearing the end of the breeding season in March and during the non-breeding season in May. It has a varying length, with a low-pitched warble, where energy is most concentrated at the peak of warbling. This vocalization is mostly heard when a flock of four or more are in flight or seen roosting.

“Ka-kaka” is only used during non-breeding season. It is made up of a series of around 15 notes, where all maintain a diverse frequency range and diminutive length. It’s used during foraging, and when displaying consistent calls among large flocks in thick woodlands.

“Waahh” is vocalized during March and August, and is usually harsh with a ranging bandwidth. It’s used in times of defense and threat. Aggressive interactions may occur with ten or more parrots present among the trees. Typically, a parrot would swing its head towards another perched behind it, present its wings, and utter a single "waahh". If interaction increased, vocalization and length of call increased.

“Grr-uip” is used in post-breeding and non-breeding seasons. This call is more multifaceted, with up to three parts. It relates to their flight movements, which qualifies specific dexterity.

The gutural is a frequent year round call, which varies in length, concentration, and bandwidth. It’s vocalized during distress, contact, flight, takeoff, and among roosting flocks and is usually associated with other vocalizations.

Songs are commonly linked with a specific sequence and involve a pattern of varying notes in a long series.

Like many Amazons, blue-fronted Amazons likely exhibit forms of tactile communication as well. Many Amazon pairs use allopreening, beak touching, or beak holding to establish or reinforce the pair-bond. Like all birds, blue-fronted Amazons perceive their environment through visual, tactile, auditory and chemical stimuli. (Fernández-Juricic, et al., 1998; Santos, et al., 2006)

  • Other Communication Modes
  • mimicry

Food Habits

Blue-fronted parrots primarily eat native seeds, fruits, nuts, leaf sprouts, and flowers from the Amazon. They are widely known for being a crop pest, particularly to citrus crops. When they’re not breeding, they leave roosting sites in flocks during the morning to feed and return in the afternoon. During breeding season, mated pairs forage together. They use their feet to handle food, and use their beak and tongue for seed or grain extraction. (Aquino and Ferrari, 1990; Fernández-Juricic, et al., 1998)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers

Predation

Poaching by humans plays a key role in the frequent absence and over-exploitation of blue-fronted Amazons in the wild. Since they mainly roost in tree canopies, their cryptic color reduces predator detection. There is scarce information on the predation of blue-fronted Amazons, but it is known that falcons, hawks and owls tend to prey upon numerous species of parrots from the Amazon. (Costantini, et al., 2008; Fernandes Seixas and de Miranda Mourao, 2002; Fernández-Juricic, et al., 1998)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic
  • Known Predators
    • Hawks
    • Falcons (Falco)
    • Owls

Ecosystem Roles

Blue-fronted Amazons consume various indigenous fruits, seeds, nuts, leaf sprouts, and flowers. Their foraging behaviors aid in seed dispersal through defecation and food transportation. (Aquino and Ferrari, 1990)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Blue-fronted Amazons are captured and sold locally and internationally through the live pet-trade market. This type of Amazon parrot is the most vital species to the Isoseño-Guaraní tribe of Bolivia, who rely on capturing this Amazon for profit. These intelligent birds are also kept as pets, and some are even used to attract wild parrots within a slingshot range for capture. (Deem, et al., 2005)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

This species of Amazon, along with almost all Amazon parrots, are known as crop pests. Blue-fronted Amazons tend to attack citrus crops and various other cultivated fruits and seeds. Many farmers destroy the birds to save their crops. (Fernández-Juricic, et al., 1998)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Blue-fronted parrots are listed as "least concern" by the IUCN Red List because of their large habitat range and decent population size. However, their population size is decreasing which may warrant a "vulnerable" status in the future. For almost all species of Amazona parrots, degradation of habitat is of highest concern. Blue-fronted Amazons are secondary cavity-nesters, and rely on mature trees for nesting. Logging and landscaping of their habitat diminishes potential nesting sites. Blue-fronted Amazons are protected under CITES II to regulate the capture and trade of these birds. (White, Jr., et al., 2005)

Contributors

Kaila Huhtasaari (author), Northern Michigan University, Alec Lindsay (editor), Northern Michigan University, Rachelle Sterling (editor), Special Projects.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

coastal

the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.

colonial

used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

granivore

an animal that mainly eats seeds

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

male parental care

parental care is carried out by males

mimicry

imitates a communication signal or appearance of another kind of organism

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

riparian

Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Aquino, R., I. Ferrari. 1990. Chromosome study of Amazona amazonica and A. aestiva (Aves: Psittaciformes): determination of chromosome number and identification of sex chromosomes by C-banding methods.. Genetica, 81: 1-3. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.springerlink.com/content/t65217450h800v85/.

Costantini, D., L. Racheli, D. Cavallo, G. Dell’Omo. 2008. Genome size variation in parrots: longevity and flying ability.. J. Avian Biol., 39: 453-459. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.davidcostantini.it/JAvianBiol2008.pdf.

Deem, S., A. Noss, R. Cuéllar, W. Karesh. 2005. Monitoring an export moratorium of the blue-fronted Amazon parrot (Amazona aestiva) in Salta Province, Argentina.. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 36: 598-605. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1638/04094.1?prevSearch=.

Fernandes Seixas, G., G. de Miranda Mourao. 2002. Nesting Success and Hatching Survival of Blue-Fronted Amazon (Amazona aestiva) in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Journal of Field Ornithology, Vol 73: 399-409. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/4131166.

Fernández-Juricic, E., M. Martella. 2000. Guttural Calls of Blue-Fronted Amazons: Structure, Context, and Their Possible Role in Short Range Communication.. The Wilson Bulletin, 112: 35-43. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/4164167.

Fernández-Juricic, E., M. Martella, E. Alvarez. 1998. Vocalizations of the Blue-Fronted Amazon (Amazona aestiva) in the Chancaní Reserve, Córdoba, Argentina.. The Wilson Bulletin, 110: 352-361. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/4163959.

Leite, K., G. Seixas, I. Berkunsky, R. Collevatti, R. Caparroz. 2008. Population genetic structure of the blue-fronted Amazon (Amazona aestiva, Psittacidae: Aves) based on nuclear microsatellite loci: implications for conservation. Genetics and Molecular Research, 7 (3): 819-829.

Russello, M., A. Amato. 2004. A molecular phylogeny of Amazona: implications for Neotropical parrot biogeography, taxonomy, and conservation.. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 30: 421-437. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WNH-491C06V-3&_user=972151&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000049654&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=972151&md5=887ac5f7b7953567b7363ac10d60c087.

Santos, S., L. De Neve, J. Lumeij, M. Förschler. 2007. Strong effects of various incidence and observation angles on spectrometric assessment of plumage colouration in birds.. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 61: 1499-1506. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.springerlink.com/content/7ju66j1t36125285/?p=ad7099e2023d45529302723948f3022c&pi=1.

Santos, S., B. Elward, J. Lumeij. 2006. Sexual Dichromatism in the Blue-Fronted Amazon Parrot (Amazona aestiva) Revealed by Multiple-Angle Spectrometry. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, Vol. 20: 8-14. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/40236514.

Vendramin-Gallo, M., C. Pessutti, A. Pezzato, M. Vicentini-Paulino. 2001. Effect of Age on Seed Digestion in Parrots (Amazona aestiva).. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 74: 398-403. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/30158718?&Search=yes&term=aestiva&term=Amazona&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DAmazona%2Baestiva%26x%3D0%26y%3D0%26wc%3Don&item=18&ttl=237&returnArticleService=showArticle.

White, Jr., T., W. Abreu-Gonzalez, M. Toledo-Gonzalez, P. Torres-Baez. 2005. Artificial Nest Cavities for Amazona Parrots.. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 33: 756-760. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3785107?&Search=yes&term=aestiva&term=Amazona&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DAmazona%2Baestiva%26x%3D0%26y%3D0%26wc%3Don&item=11&ttl=237&returnArticleService=showArticle.

de Freitas Raso, T., S. Godoy, L. Milanelo, C. de Souza, E. Matuschima, J. Araújo, Jr., A. Pinto. 2004. An Outbreak of Chlamydiosis in Captive Blue-Fronted Amazon Parrots (Amazona aestiva) in Brazil.. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, Vol. 35: 94-96. Accessed January 21, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/20460364.