Black-billed Amazon Amazona agilis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very small range within which its habitat is declining in extent, area and quality; and further population reductions are being caused by trapping and predation, qualifying the species as Vulnerable. It does not currently qualify as Endangered because habitat is not severely fragmented and it is known from more than five locations. However the species may qualify for uplisting in the future due to population declines should all three proposed mining concessions in Cockpit Country be granted.

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
Data suggests a decline of at least 50% may occur over the next 40-50 years as a result of habitat destruction due to three proposed mining concessions, two of which have recently been granted (Koenig, 2008). However, it is not certain whether the third concession will be granted (S. Koenig in litt. 2010), and as such the species is projected to undergo a decline of 30-49% over the next 37 years (three generations).

Distribution and population

This species is fairly common in the centre of Jamaica, from Cockpit Country to Mount Diablo (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Juniper and Parr 1998). It also occurs on the eastern slopes of the John Crow Mountains (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 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, and the species is trapped for local consumption (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Juniper and Parr 1998). 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). A Population Viability Analysis indicated that were mining to take place as planned this species might decline by 50% over the next 15 years, though such declines are more likely to occur over a time frame of 40-50 years as habitat loss due to mining will be more gradual (Koenig 2008, S. Koenig in litt. 2007, 2009).  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). There is no evidence that poaching for the cage-bird trade has a major impact (Davis 1997). There is a risk of hybridisation with other species of imported Amazona (S. Koenig in litt. 2007, 2009).

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 and 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 escapes and hybridisation (S. Koenig in litt. 2007, 2009).  Captive breeding populations exist.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to delineate range and assess numbers (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Establish a long-term monitoring programme. Designate Cockpit Country closed to mining. 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 (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998) and 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
Benstead, P., Calvert, R., Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D., Wheatley, H.

Koenig, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Amazona agilis. Downloaded from on 03/12/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 03/12/2020.