Justification of Red List Category
Conservation action may have saved this species from extinction. Numbers are now increasing and there is some evidence of a small range expansion. Despite this however, the population remains small and given its sole presence on a single isolated island, it remains at significant risk from a number of threats (hurricanes, relaxation of hunting restrictions, habitat destruction etc.) which could rapidly drive the species to a higher threat category in a very short period. It is therefore listed as Vulnerable.
The population was estimated in 2009 by the first ever St Lucia Parrot point count (Status of the Saint Lucia Parrot Amazona versicolor, Report to the Government of Saint Lucia, February 2011) to number between 1,750-2,250 parrots, which equates to 1,167-1,500 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,150-1,500 mature individuals (per R. Low in litt. 2018).
There are no new data on population trends, therefore the species is assumed to still be increasing. No evidence of a population decline was witnessed following the habitat damage caused by Hurricane Thomas of 2010 (R. Low in litt. 2018).
Amazona versicolor occurs in the central-southern mountains of St Lucia. In 1950, there were 295 km2 of available habitat, but this has been reduced rapidly since the mid-1970s. There have been considerable population declines, but these are being reversed by concerted conservation action. Surveys in 1996 estimated the wild population at c.350-500 individuals (Juniper and Parr 1998), and noted some range expansion (J. D. Gilardi in litt. 1999) whilst a 2009 survey estimated the population at 1,750-2,250 wild individuals, evidencing the ongoing population increases (R. Low in litt. 2018).
It favours montane, moist primary forest, mainly at 500-900 m, but also forages in secondary growth (Juniper and Parr 1998). It nests in tree-holes, and breeding takes place in February-March or later (Collar 1997). Breeding success is apparently similar to other Caribbean and mainland Amazona parrots (J. D. Gilardi in litt. 1999).
The human population of St Lucia is growing at a considerable rate, increasing pressure on the forest and resulting in habitat loss (Copsey 1995). Selective logging of mature trees may significantly reduce breeding sites (Juniper and Parr 1998), and hurricanes, hunting and trade pose further threats. There have been recent efforts to lift the moratorium on hunting within forest reserves, which would seriously threaten this species (J. D. Gilardi in litt. 1999).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. It is protected by domestic legislation (J. D. Gilardi in litt. 1999). Education and awareness programmes have turned the bird into a national symbol. This has successfully eliminated hunting (Juniper and Parr 1998), helped by a moratorium on hunting within forest reserves (J. D. Gilardi in litt. 1999). A captive-breeding programme was established in 1975, and in 1995 a total of 19 young birds had fledged (Copsey 1995).
43 cm. Colourful parrot. Blue face and forehead. Red area on breast becoming maroon and mottled on lower breast and belly. Red speculum. Dark blue primaries. Tail tipped yellow. Similar spp. Only parrot on St Lucia. Voice Noisy and raucous screeching. Also purring, cackling, shrieking and honking noises.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilardi, J.D., Isherwood, I., Low, R., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C.J. & Wege, D.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Amazona versicolor. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2021.