Amazona farinosamealy parrot

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Geographic Range

Mealy parrots are found in Mexico and Central and South America, occupying a wide range from southern Mexico to northern Bolivia and southern Brazil. They are most common in Costa Rica and Panama, particularly on the Caribbean coast. (Juniper and Parr, 1998; Ridgely, 1976)

Habitat

Mealy parrots inhabit dense, humid lowland rainforests near clearings but also populate wooded areas in savannas. (Juniper and Parr, 1998)

  • Range elevation
    290 to 1,200 m
    951.44 to ft
  • Average elevation
    688 m
    2257.22 ft

Physical Description

One of the largest of the Amazon parrots, mealy parrots measure approximately 38 to 40 cm in length and have an average weight of 540 to 700g. They are considerably less vibrant than other closely related parrots. Mealy parrots are mainly green with a crown of blue and violet feathers on the head, as well as a powdery appearance given by the dull, bluish feathers on the head, neck, and shoulders. A few spots of red, yellow, or blue can be seen on the feathers underneath the wings, which are mainly dull green with lighter green tips. Around each eye is a white, featherless ring. The iris is a reddish-orange color. The beak is a gray, brown color. One way to discern mealy parrots from other Amazona species is the tail, which consists of two distinct tones: green and yellowish green. The feet are a grayish color. Males and females are monomorphic. A distinguishing feature between adults and juveniles is a brown iris in juveniles. ("Avian Web", 2004; Bates and Busenbark, 1969; Juniper and Parr, 1998; Ridgely, 1976)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    540 to 700 g
    19.03 to 24.67 oz
  • Range length
    38 to 40 cm
    14.96 to 15.75 in

Reproduction

Mating occurs once a year and normally begins in the spring. Once sexually mature, mealy parrots will choose one partner for life. (Brough, 2005; Juniper and Parr, 1998)

Breeding normally ranges from November to March. Nesting takes place in the tree-cavity. Female parrots usually lay one clutch per year of three eggs. Eggs are incubated for about four weeks, after hatching male parrots assist females in raising the young by regurgitating food for the female to eat. The offspring are ready to leave the nest after a period of about eight weeks. (Brough, 2005; Juniper and Parr, 1998)

  • Breeding interval
    Mealy parrots breed for a span of a few months once a year.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from November to March.
  • Average eggs per season
    3
  • Average time to hatching
    4 weeks
  • Average time to independence
    2 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    4 to 5 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    4 to 5 years

During the incubation period, the male parrot will assist the female by regurgitating food for the female to eat. The female will protect and feed the hatched offspring until they are ready to leave the nest. (Brough, 2005)

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

Lifespan/Longevity

Mealy parrots in captivity is typically between 50 and 100 years. Information on lifespan of mealy parrots in the wild is unavailable. ("Feathered Family Inc.", 2005)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    50 to 100 years

Behavior

Mealy parrots are social animals, often seen flying in pairs or small flocks of up to 20. They will also form larger groups of several hundred birds near the breeding season. Mealy parrots are very active and are often seen interacting with other species of parrots, such as macaws (Ara). (Brough, 2005; Juniper and Parr, 1998)

Communication and Perception

Mealy parrots can be very noisy, with a variety of different calls, including chattering, squawking, and whistling. The calls can be heard at a distance, as their voice usually has a deeper tone than that of other Amazona parrots. (Juniper and Parr, 1998)

Food Habits

Mealy parrots feed mostly on plant parts, including seeds, fruits, nuts, blossoms, and leaf buds. (Brough, 2005)

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

Predation

Mealy parrots are prey to various predators, such as hawks and monkeys. Snakes may steal eggs or young offspring. (Juniper and Parr, 1998)

Ecosystem Roles

Although their importance to the environment has not been extensively researched, mealy parrots are speculated to play a role in seed dispersal as well as act as a pollinator of the flowers they feed on. (Juniper and Parr, 1998)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Of special interest to the international live exotic bird trade, mealy parrots are most commonly taken into captivity and sold as pets. In some areas, they are also hunted for food, due to their relatively large size. (Juniper and Parr, 1998)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Mealy parrots may eat crops occasionally, including corn crops. (Brough, 2005; Juniper and Parr, 1998)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Mealy parrots are not currently identified as a species in crisis. They do not meet the criteria for a population decline, meaning a thirty percent loss of the population in ten years or three generations, as defined by the IUCN Red List. They are considered a species of least concern. This, however, does not suggest that the species is completely free from danger. Both the large amount of trading and the loss of habitat from deforestation have a significant impact on population declines of mealy parrots in certain areas. ("BirdLife International", 2005)

Contributors

Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Kathleen Sholty (author), Kalamazoo College, Ann Fraser (editor, instructor), Kalamazoo College.

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

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

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

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

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

frugivore

an animal that mainly eats fruit

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).

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.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

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

tropical

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

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

2004. "Avian Web" (On-line). Amazon Parrots. Accessed November 19, 2005 at http://www.avianweb.com/amazons.htm.

2005. "BirdLife International" (On-line). Species factsheet: Amazona farinosa. Accessed October 15, 2005 at http://www.birdlife.org.

2005. "Feathered Family Inc." (On-line). Accessed November 19, 2005 at http://www.featheredfamily.com/mealyamazon.htm.

Bates, H., R. Busenbark. 1969. Parrots and Related Birds. United States: T.F.H. Publications.

Brough, C. 2005. "Animal-World" (On-line). “Mealy Amazon”. Accessed October 15, 2005 at http://www.exotictropicals.com/encyclo/birds/amazons/mealyamazon.php..

Juniper, T., M. Parr. 1998. Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Ridgely, R. 1976. A Guide to the Birds of Panama. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.