Red-crowned Amazon Amazona viridigenalis


Justification of Red List Category
The combination of high levels of exploitation for the cagebird trade, long-term habitat loss and reduced density estimates indicates that this species is declining very rapidly. It consequently qualifies as Endangered.

Population justification
In 1992-1994, estimated densities in one area in Mexico indicated a wild population of 3,000-6,500 birds (E. C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich in litt. 1994). This estimate roughly equates to 2,000-4,300 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Historic densities recorded for the species were 25.2 birds/km2 in the 1970s (Castro 1976), falling to 5.7 birds/km2 in one area in 1992-1994 (E. C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich in litt. 1994, Enkerlin-Hoeflich 1995), indicating a decline of up to 77.4% over c.20 years. The decline is suspected to be continuing at a rate exceeding 50% over ten years, owing to the ongoing threats of trapping and forest clearance.

Distribution and population

Amazona viridigenalis is locally and seasonally fairly common to common on the Atlantic slope of north-east Mexico (Howell and Webb 1995a), mostly in Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosí, with small colonies in extreme north-east Querétaro (A. G. Navarro in litt. 1998). In 1992-1994, densities in one area were estimated at 5.7 birds/km2, indicating a wild population of 3,000-6,500 birds (E. C. Enkerlin-Hoeflich in litt. 1994, Enkerlin-Hoeflich 1995). This compares with 25.2 birds/km2 reported in the 1970s (Castro 1976). Based on field surveys and ecological niche models generated with MaxEnt models, the species has lost potentially 57% of their former historical distribution, although records for the species were obtained from Nuevo León, Veracruz, where it it had previously been thought to have disappeared (Monterrubio-Rico 2012; Monterrubio-Rico et al. in press). The population recently established in urban areas of the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Texas), USA, is considered by some to consist of wild birds (T. Brush in litt. 2003). Introduced or feral populations are also established (and mostly increasing) in Florida and California (USA), Puerto Rico (to USA), O'ahu (Hawaii) and several parts of Mexico (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997).


It inhabits lush areas in arid lowlands and foothills, especially gallery forest, deciduous woodland and dry, open pine-oak woodland on ridges up to 1,000 m. In central Tamaulipas it has been observed in mixed landscapes of wooded mountain slopes with adjacent mixed scrub, citrus or villages (T. Brush in litt. 2016). Smaller numbers occur in agricultural landscapes with a few large trees. Nests are usually in tree-cavities, with breeding from March-May. Clutches of 2-5 eggs are incubated for 25-31 days (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997). It is nomadic in winter, with large flocks moving south (and apparently north) and to higher elevations. It feeds largely on the fruits of dominant tree species (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997).


In 1970-1982, 16,490 birds (mostly nestlings) were legally imported into the USA. Illegal exports from Mexico and a pre-export mortality of >50% equates to 5,000 birds per year (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997). Trappers damage nests when extracting chicks (sometimes felling entire trees), reducing nest-site availability and leading to permanent site abandonment (Snyder et al. 2000). Many gallery forests have been cleared or degraded, with over 80% of Tamaulipas lowlands cleared for agriculture (especially sorghum) and pasture. Habitat is now patchily distributed on cattle-ranches, where trapping pressure is greatest (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997). Urban intensification may also present a threat to this species as despite the establishment of urban populations, removal of dead palms by landscapers could harm the species (K. Berg in litt. 2016), and widespread poaching of chicks from well-known urban nest sites could significantly harm these populations in the future (K. Berg in litt. 2016),

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I (1992) and part of the European Endangered [Species] Programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). It occurs in El Cielo and Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserves (A. G. Navarro in litt. 1998, T. Brush in litt. 2003), but there are only small colonies in Sierra Gorda and its status in El Cielo is unknown (Wege and Long 1995, A. G. Navarro in litt. 1998). Ranchers are increasingly aware of the benefits of maintaining large trees, but this is not reflected in practice.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to obtain an estimate for the total population size. Monitor populations to determine the extent of declines. Identify the most important nesting aggregations for protection (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997). Integrate ranchers into efforts to curtail trapping and regenerate habitat (Enkerlin-Hoeflich and Hogan 1997). Urban populations allow for the possibility of environmental education and public awareness programs, including large metropolitan areas of Matamoros and Reynosa (K. Berg in litt. 2016).


33 cm. Green parrot with striking red forehead. Blue postocular stripe extends down sides of neck. Red speculum. Dark blue primaries. Yellow tips to outer-tail feathers. Female and immature have less red on crown. Similar spp. Red-lored Parrot A. autumnalis has yellow on face, slower flight and trilling wee-ee-eee-eet voice. Yellow-headed Parrot A. oratrix has yellow head. Immature separated from adult Lilac-crowned Parrot A. finschi by mainly green crown and fewer black-tipped feathers on underparts. Voice Shrill screaming followed by three lower and ascending notes clee-u crack crack crack. Also other screaming and chattering calls.


Text account compilers
Isherwood, I., Capper, D., Sharpe, C.J., Stattersfield, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J., Benstead, P.

Monterrubio-Rico, T., Navarro, A., Berg, K., Enkerlin-Hoeflich, E., Brush, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Amazona viridigenalis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2020.