Black-billed Amazon Amazona agilis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is undergoing rapid declines caused by habitat loss, trapping, predation by invasive species and climate change impacts. Declines are projected to go on; therefore the species is listed as Endangered.

Population justification
Preliminary population estimates best place the global population in the band 10,000-19,999 individuals (S. Koenig in litt. 2008). This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals. Further studies are required to obtain an accurate figure.

Trend justification
The species is undergoing a rapid decline at an accelerating rate, which is projected to continue over the next decades (Koenig 2008). This decline is caused by moderate rates of tree cover loss (Koenig 2008, Global Forest Watch 2020), deterioration of habitat quality due to a higher frequency of droughts, increased risk of hybridisation with Puerto Rican Amazon Amazona vittata, an increase in invasive nest predators, and hunting for the local pet trade (L. Gibson in litt. 2020, Cawley et al. 2020, Gibson 2020). The rate of decline is projected at 50-79% over three generations (31.8 years).

Distribution and population

This species is endemic to Jamaica, where it occurs from Cockpit Country to Mount Diablo in the John Crow Mountains (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Juniper and Parr 1998). The population in Cockpit Country was previously thought to number fewer than 10,000 individuals, however, recent surveys estimate that 7,500 - 9,500 territorial pairs are present and the species is fairly common there but is much less common on Mount Diablo (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Koenig 2001, S. Koenig in litt. 2007, 2009).


This parrot occurs primarily in wet limestone forests and forest edge, mostly at elevations of 100-1,400 m (Collar 1997, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Juniper and Parr 1998). It also uses cultivated land and plantations adjacent to forest for foraging (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Pairs and flocks feed high in the canopy on fruits, blossoms, nuts and seeds (Raffaele et al. 1998). Breeding takes place from March to August (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). The use of abandoned Jamaican Woodpecker Melanerpes radiolatus cavities has been reported (Raffaele et al. 1998), but the majority of pairs use tree-hollows that form from processes related to weathering or pathogen and insect attacks (Koenig 1999).


Shifting cultivation, logging and bauxite mining have reduced suitable habitat. Bauxite mining licenses were recently issued for over 60% of the Cockpit Country Conservation Area, which supports over 90% of the global population of this species (Koenig 2008). Predation by Yellow Boa Epicrates subflavus is a significant limiting factor to nesting success: of the 26 nest-sites located during the 1997 breeding season, over 30% suffered total failure and another 6% partial mortality during the early nesting stage (Davis 1997). Nest predation is likely to increase with the increasing population of invasive rats and mongooses (L. Gibson in litt. 2020). Climate change is leading to an increased frequency of droughts within the range; this reduces the area and quality of habitat and causes the species to concentrate around fruiting trees near villages (L. Gibson in litt. 2020). In small numbers, the species is trapped for the local pet trade (Cawley et al. 2020, Gibson 2020). Instances of hybridisation with Puerto Rican Amazon Amazona agilis have been observed, as this species is thought to expand its range in response to severe droughts and hurricanes in Puerto Rico (Cawley et al. 2020, L. Gibson in litt. 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Protected under Jamaica's Wildlife Protection Act and Endangered Species Act 2000, which together prohibit keeping the species as a pet, as well as local and international trade. Since 1995, there has been work to delineate its range, estimate population size, identify factors limiting reproductive performance and train local people in research methods and techniques for long-term monitoring (Davis 1997, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Habitat in the Blue and John Crow Mountains has been declared a national park, but enforcement and management are weak (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). There is an ongoing, high profile public awareness campaign to prevent bauxite mining in Cockpit Country by having the area declared "closed to mining" by Minister's Discretion (S. Koenig in litt. 2007, 2009). Proponents remain optimistic that, whilst a large area of habitat will be lost, one big area of habitat will be declared closed for mining (S. Koenig in litt. 2007, 2009). Discussions have been initiated which may lead to the banning of the importation of Psittacines to Jamaica to lower the risk of escapees and hybridisation (S. Koenig in litt. 2007, 2009).  Captive breeding populations exist.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out large-scale point counts to assess presence and abundance (L. Gibson in litt. 2020). Carry out telemetric surveys to establish the the distribution range and movement patterns (L. Gibson in litt. 2020). Establish a long-term monitoring programme. Monitor invasive predators through camera trapping to determine their distribution and abundance (L. Gibson in litt. 2020). Investigate the level of hybridisation with A. vittata using eDNA studies (L. Gibson in litt. 2020). Designate Cockpit Country "closed to mining". Establish buffer zones around protected areas and proposed protected areas to close them off for mining (L. Gibson in litt. 2020). Ensure de facto protection of the national park in the Blue and John Crow Mountains (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Design and implement education programmes in and adjacent to the species's occupied range and increase collaboration with indigenous communities and use of traditional ecological knowledge (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, L. Gibson in litt. 2020). Develop a structured captive breeding programme. Improve enforcement of anti-poaching legislation.


25 cm. All-green parrot with scaled effect on head (sometimes odd red feathers), red primary covert patch, bluish primaries, flight feathers darker at tip, tail feathers margined blue with red bases to outer feathers. Bill black. Similar spp. Yellow-billed Parrot A. collaria is larger with yellow bill and whitish facial area, and has deeper and slower wing beats. Voice Various screeches, rrak, muh-weep and bugling tuh-tuk in flight higher-pitched than A. collaria. Hints Best located by call.


Text account compilers
Wheatley, H., Hermes, C.

Benstead, P., BirdLife Jamaica, Calvert, R., Gibson, L., Isherwood, I., Koenig, S., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C.J. & Wege, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Amazona agilis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/03/2023.