Lilac-crowned Amazon Amazona finschi


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Endangered because it is suspected to be declining very rapidly based on recorded range contractions, and owing to unsustainable exploitation and habitat loss.

Population justification
Renton and Iñigo-Elias (2003) estimate the global population at 7,000-10,000 individuals, based on surveys covering the majority of the species's global range. This roughly equates to 4,700-6,700 mature individuals. An estimate that 5,000 individuals each year were captured illegally in Mexico (Cantú et al. 2007), implies that the population estimate by Renton and Iñigo-Elias (2003) could be an underestimate, but this is retained in this assessment until better data are available.

Trend justification
This species's population is suspected to be in very rapid decline, based on a study by Marin-Togo et al. (2012), who estimated the current distribution of this species along the Pacific coast of Mexico and showed a 72.6% reduction from its estimated original distribution.

Distribution and population

Amazona finschi is endemic to the Pacific coast of Mexico (Forshaw 1989, Collar 1997, Juniper and Parr 1998). Historically, its range extended from southern Sonora and south-western Chihuahua to Oaxaca (Forshaw 1989, Howell and Webb 1995). The species has been practically extirpated from Oaxaca, as well as parts of Nayarit, Jalisco, Durango, Colima and Michoacán, and has undergone significant population declines in many areas of its original range, especially in the lowlands (Renton and Elias 2003). Despite local declines the species is most abundant in the states of Jalisco, Michoacán and Sinaloa (Renton and Iñigo-Elias 2003). A recent survey, carried out in appropriate habitat in 53 out of 77 50x50 km squares covering the species's entire range, estimated its population size to be 7,000-10,000 individuals (Renton and Iñigo-Elias 2003). The species has disappeared from 37% of the localities where it was historically recorded (Renton and Iñigo-Elias 2003, K. Renton in litt. 2005), and has shown a decline of 29% in its original distribution over the last 20 years (CITES 2004b). It is suspected to be in very rapid decline based on its disappearance from over 70% of its estimated former range (Marin-Togo et al. 2012).


It is reported to occur in deciduous and semi-deciduous forests along the coast, as well as pine-oak forests up to 2,000 m (Forshaw 1989). However, semi-deciduous forest along more humid valleys at from sea level 1,000 m is optimal breeding habitat (Renton and Salinas-Melgoza 1999, Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2009), and provides key food resources during the dry season (Renton 2001). A low tolerance to human disturbance is evident as the species is encountered more frequently in conserved than in degraded woodland (Renton and Iñigo-Elias 2003), and prefers conserved semi-deciduous woodland (Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2009). Seasonality plays an important role in the species's life history, influencing diet, habitat use, daily activity, and movements with the species undertaking altitudinal and latitudinal migrations (Renton 2001, Renton and Salinas-Melgoza 2002, Salinas-Melgoza and Renton 2005, Sánchez-Barradas et al. 2017). The species shows a low rate of reproduction (Renton and Salinas-Melgoza 2004). In Michoacán, nest sites were located preponderantly in relatively inaccessible rugged mountainous terrain, where the large stands of tropical semideciduous forests remain on steep slopes with an average gradient of 22° (Ortega-Rodríguez and Monterrubio-Rico 2008). 


Capture for domestic and international trade is the major threat to wild populations. The species is highly valued in trade (Cantú et al. 2007) and was the most captured Amazon parrot species in the early 1980’s (Iñigo-Elias and Ramos 1991). From 1998-2008, 860 Amazona finschi were legally captured (J. C. Cantú in litt. 2017). Illegal trade is intensive and widespread, and Amazona finschi is one of the most frequently confiscated Mexican parrots (K. Renton in litt. 2005). It was the sixth most confiscated parrot in Mexico from 1995-2005 and the third most confiscated Mexican parrot in the USA from 1992-2005 (Cantú et al. 2007). During 1981-2001, 4,061 individuals were recorded as traded internationally, of which 79% were exported directly from Mexico and 64% were taken from the wild (CITES 2004a). Captive breeding of parrots was promoted by Mexican environmental authorities to help in conservation but only 154 A. finschi’s were bred from 2002-2008 and it didn’t help stop illegal trade (Cantú in press 2020). It remains one of the top five most-captured Mexican parrot species, with an estimated 5,000 individuals/year captured illegally in Mexico (Cantú et al. 2007). It is one of the most illegally sold parrot species on the internet (J. C. Cantú, per. obs.). Adults and juveniles are easily netted in large numbers because of their habit of congregating at communal roost sites late in the afternoon (Renton 2005, K. Renton in litt. 2005). Chicks are commonly poached from nests (K. Renton in litt. 2005). During interviews with local people throughout the species's range, 75% reported poaching in their area (K. Renton in litt. 2005). In addition, this species is reported to require semi-deciduous forest with tall, mature trees for nesting, and may not adapt to nesting in modified areas (see Monterrubio-Rico et al. 2009, Marin-Togo et al. 2012). Habitat loss and degradation, mostly for conversion to both small-holder and large-scale cultivation and pasture are serious threats (K. Renton in litt. 2007, A. Salinas in litt. 2007, Ortega-Rodríguez and Monterrubio-Rico 2008). Semi-deciduous forest along the Pacific coast is being lost at a greater rate than any other forest type in Mexico (Masera et al. 1996, K. Renton in litt. 2005), resulting in the destruction of nest sites and reduction in the extent of this crucial breeding habitat (Renton 2005). In Michoacán, the more easily accessible potential nesting areas, such as plains or rolling hills, have now been converted to extensive cattle ranching or agriculture (Ortega-Rodríguez and Monterrubio-Rico 2008). Large development projects, such as dams, have also resulted in loss of breeding habitat for the species (K. Renton in litt. 2007). Semi-deciduous forest now covers only 3,847 km2 or 6.6% of the species's current known distribution (Marin-Togo et al. 2012). Despite the various pressures on habitats, Marin-Togo et al. (2012) determined that Amazona finshi has disappeared from more than 70% of its estimated former range and that primary habitat comprises more than half the area of absence for this species (60.7%), which reinforces the view that trapping pressure is the predominant threat to the species. Nevertheless, the endemic Amazona finschi faces new threats associated with global change through increased habitat loss and climate change. The increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes making landfall along the Pacific coast has indirect cascading effects on parrot reproduction through the loss of nest-sites and reduction in food resources (Renton et al. 2018). While reproductive output of Amazona finschi recovered following landfall by a minor hurricane (Renton et al. 2018), landfall by the major Hurricane Patricia in 2015 resulted in the loss of 61.5% of nest-sites, and reduced reproductive output by nesting parrots, among the lowest recorded for the species, which has yet to recover 4 years after hurricane landfall (K. Renton unpubl. data).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
In 1999, the Mexican government established a Plan for the Conservation, Protection and Recuperation of Psittacines in Mexico, within which A. finschi is considered a priority species (Macias Caballero et al. 2000). In 2004, the species was upgraded to CITES Appendix 1, and in 2007, a proposal was approved for the species to be upgraded in 2008 from 'Threatened' to 'Endangered' under Mexican wildlife law (K. Renton in litt. 2007). In Mexico, considerable efforts have been made to tackle illegal national trade, with at least 52 seizures during 1997-2003 (CITES 2004b). Inspections in Mexico resulted in the seizure of 266 live individuals of the species being offered illegally in the pet trade from 1995 to 2003 (CITES 2004b), and in 2008, the Mexican government introduced a ban on the trade of all native parrot species in the country (Cantú and Sánchez, 2011a, K. Renton in litt. 2016). A decline in seizures of A. finschi occurred after the 2008 ban (J. C. Cantú in litt. 2013).The species is found in three Biosphere Reserves; Sierra de Alamos-Arroyo Cuchujaqui, southern Sonora, and Chamela-Cuixmala and Sierra de Manantlán, Jalisco, and is reported to occur in seven Important Bird Areas; however, some of these lack official protection or conservation programmes (CITES 2004a), and only 1.5% of its distribution is found in protected areas (Marin-Togo et al. 2012). A national awareness and educational campaign ‘No Compres Pericos Silvestres’ was initiated by Defenders of Wildlife and Teyeliz in 2009 aimed at raising awareness of the impact of illegal trade on the conservation status of parrots in Mexico (http://www.pericosmexico.org/index.html) (Cantú and Sánchez 2011 a). Birdwatching is being promoted in areas inhabited by the species and quick bird identification guides with Amazona finschi on the cover have been created (J. C. Cantú pers. obs.)

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor levels of habitat destruction and degradation. Implement trade regulation strategies in the 1999 plan. Conduct outreach work and environmental education as outlined in the 1999 plan. Carry out habitat conservation and the recovery of wild populations as recommended in the 1999 Plan. Monitor the success of strategies from the 1999 plan. Protect the remaining tropical forest stands on slopes greater than 6°: ideally all areas on steep slopes should be restored to forest, in order to provide habitat for all native wildlife (including Lilac-crowned Parrot) avoid soil erosion and promote alternative economic activities on the rugged coastal areas such as recreation and tourism (Ortega-Rodríguez and Monterrubio-Rico 2008). Promote birdwatching as an alternative source of income for landholders and rural communities to insure species and habitat conservation (Cantú et al. 2011b). Regional landscape planning proposals need to incorporate conservation corridors that connect areas of conserved semi-deciduous forest both latitudinally along the coast, and altitudinally to the highlands inland, so as to facilitate wildlife movements, and provide alternate refugia for the species following hurricane impacts or seasonal droughts (K. Renton in litt. 2020).


30.5-34.5cm. Bright green parrot with red forehead and lilac crown and sides of neck. Primaries tipped with bluish violet, red patch on outer secondaries, beak pale horn and legs pale grey. Ages and sexes similar, but juvenile has brownish rather than amber eyes. Similar spp. White-fronted Parrot A. albifrons is smaller, with red patch on alula and upper primary coverts. Yellow-headed Parrot A. oratrix is told by heavier build, shorter tail and yellow on head. Voice Varied and raucous, including a shrill krih-krih, a rolling krreeeih, a deeper kyah'ha and an almost raven-like krra krra.


Text account compilers
Everest, J.

Bonilla, C., Butchart, S., Cantú, J., Capper, D., Ekstrom, J., Renton, K., Salinas, A., Sharpe, C.J., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Temple, H. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Amazona finschi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/03/2023.