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Turquoise-fronted Amazon Amazona aestiva



Justification

Justification of Red List category
This species is heavily trapped for the cage-bird trade and its habitat is undergoing a decline in extent and quality, largely due to conversion to agriculture. Anecdotal information and small-scale studies have indicated a population decline. For these reasons, the species is listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
This species is described as 'fairly common' (Stotz et al. 1996). A survey of an area of c.2,700 km2 in the southern Pantanal in Brazil found six large communal roosts, five of which contained an average June-July total of 4,571 individuals, 3.6% of which consisted of fledglings (Seixas and Mourão 2018). Very rough population estimates range from 905,000 - 2,290,000 mature individuals based on the population densities of congeners, the area of the mapped range and assuming only c.10% of the range is occupied. Santini et al. (2019) estimated a population size of 10,424,783 mature individuals, based on a modelled population density and the area of habitat within the species's extent of occurrence. Scaling up the above estimate of a minimum of 4,406 mature individuals in 2,700 km2 to the species's overall range gives a total population size of 9,559,420 mature individuals. The population size is therefore placed in the band 1,000,000 - 10,000,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Global population trends have not been quantified. Anecdotal information has suggested that the species has undergone a population decline due to poaching and habitat loss, although a genetic study did not detect any impact of declines on its genetic diversity so far (Leite et al. 2008). Expert opinion of six studied populations indicated that one population in Chiquitania, Bolivia was undergoing a moderate decline, populations in the Cerrado in Brazil, the Chaco in Argentina and in Beni, Bolivia had a minor decline and a population in Mato Grosso du Sul, Brazil was stable (Berkunsky et al. 2017a). The species is thought to have undergone severe declines in northeast Brazil (A. Saidenberg in litt. 2018). According to J. Tella (in litt. 2015), it is now rare in nature. Surveys of communal roosts in the Brazilian Pantanal from 2004-2009 found that overall numbers of individuals fluctuated or increased, but numbers of fledglings declined across the study (Seixas and Mourão 2018). A study of land cover change in the chaco region estimated that 20.7% of the natural area was transformed between 1976 and 2012 (Vallejos et al. 2015). The population is therefore inferred to be undergoing a continuing decline, at a suspected rate of 20-29% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Amazona aestiva has a large range across Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and northern Argentina. It is found from Maranhão and Pará in northeast Brazil, west to north and east Bolivia and south to Córdoba, Argentina and Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (Collar et al. 2019, WikiAves 2019). In recent years the species has expanded its range into urban centres such as São Paulo and Campo Grande, possibly as a result of escapes or releases of captive individuals (Schunk et al. 2011). Population trends have not been quantified, but the species is heavily trapped for the cagebird trade and is thought to have undergone severe declines in northeast Brazil (A. Saidenberg in litt. 2018).

Ecology

The species is found in a variety of habitats including scrub (in the Cerrado and Chaco), savanna, palm groves, gallery forest, subtropical woodland and urban areas (Schunk et al. 2011, Collar et al. 2019). It nests in cavities in large trees and therefore requires old-growth areas (Collar et al. 2019). In winter in Argentina, it occupies yungas forest and particularly stands of Anadenanthera macrocarpa (Collar et al. 2019). It feeds on fruit and seeds of a wide variety of plants including Melia, Aspidosperma, Prosopis, SchinopsisZiziphus, Citrus, Anadenanthera, Bulnesia and Cercidium as well as cactus fruit and palm fruit and seeds (Collar et al. 2019). It also feeds on maize and sunflower crops (Collar et al. 2019). It nests in holes in trees or occasionally cliff faces or arboreal termite nests (Collar et al. 2019). It is largely resident, with most of the Chaco population in Argentina migrating to the eastern foothills of the Andes over winter (Collar et al. 2019). It roosts communally in trees.

Threats

Expert opinion of six studied populations indicated that the main threats to the species are agro-industry farming, wood and pulp plantations, agro-industry grazing, capture for the pet trade (local and international), large-scale and selective logging and climate change (Berkunsky et al. 2017a).

The species is very heavily trapped for the cage-bird trade, but the impact on populations is not known. Minimum net exports rose from 10,600 in 1981 to 58,500 in 1988, but declined after that (Collar et al. 2019). Large numbers of individuals continue to be traded illegally within countries (Pires et al. 2016, Ortiz-von Halle 2018). Hundreds of individuals are captured in Brazil every year and nesting sites are frequently destroyed, with many traded between states, and the species is commonly received by government wildlife rehabilitation centres (Schunk et al. 2011). Data shows that 1,200 individuals were seized by or handed to authorities between 2004 and 2006 (COEFA/IBAMA 2008), although this figure is considered to be an underestimate of the true number of Turquoise-fronted Amazons seized and an additional 503 individuals were received by a state wildlife rehabilitation during the same period (ICMBio 2010). In Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, Turquoise-fronted Amazon is the species most frequently rescued by the authorities (Seixas and Mourao 2000); around 6,500 nestlings were seized by the environmental enforcement agencies since 1988 (900 in 2008 alone), and it is estimated that the total number of birds poached from the wild is two-three times higher (Blue-fronted Amazon Project n.d.). According to J. Tella in litt. (2015), 30,000 birds are captured annually. In Argentina, the National Fauna Authority coordinated the capture of more than 20,000 nestlings and 5,400 adults from the Chaco forest between 1998 and 2012, based on quotas derived from the number of individuals believed to die of natural causes (Berkunsky et al. 2017b). However, a study by Berkunsky et al. (2017b) found that harvested individuals are generally removed from nests at a later stage than that when much of the natural mortality occurs, meaning that harvested parrots largely do not represent individuals that would otherwise have died of natural causes. A survey of a major illegal wildlife market in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, recorded 1,296 individuals being traded across 2005, 80.7% of which were adult birds (Pires et al. 2016).

Other potential threats include habitat loss and degradation through selective cutting of Schinopsis trees, overgrazing by domestic livestock, forest clearance by cutting and burning for conversion to pasture and arable agriculture, and oil exploration activities (Schunk et al. 2011, Collar et al. 2019). A decline in the numbers of fledglings recorded across five communal roosts in the Pantanal from 2004-2009 was attributed to the cutting and burning of woody vegetation (Seixas and Mourão 2018). A study of land cover change in the Chaco region estimated that 20.7% of the natural area was transformed between 1976 and 2012, largely through conversion to croplands and pasture (Vallejos et al. 2015).

Conservation actions

Research and Conservation Actions Underway

The species is listed under CITES Appendix II and is listed as nationally Near Threatened in Brazil (MMA 2014). Live capture is illegal in Brazil and in Bolivia (Schunk et al. 2011, Pires et al. 2016), but captive-bred birds may be traded domestically, making trade more difficult to enforce, and incidents of poaching or illegal trafficking often receive little punishment (Ortiz-von Halle 2018). In Argentina, harvesting of individuals has been subject to a quota-based sustainable trade scheme that complied with CITES and invested income into habitat protection (Ortiz-von Halle 2018). However, the scheme ceased following an EU import ban (Ortiz-von Halle 2018). The authorities make considerable efforts to control domestic trade in cities in the Amazon region (Ortiz-von Halle 2018). Individuals confiscated by or handed to the authorities are rehabilitated and many have been released back into the wild (Seixas and Mourao 2000), although there is not always monitoring of the success of such reintroductions (Ortiz-von Halle 2018). 

The Blue-fronted Amazon Project (Projeto Papagaio-Verdadeiro), run by Fundação Neotrópica do Brasil, is monitoring populations and trade in the species, restoring nesting cavities, developing agreements about conservation with state and federal authorities, encouraging people to report incidents of illegal wildlife trade and carrying out an education programme about the species's conservation in the Pantanal, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil (Blue-fronted Amazon Project n.d., Berkunsky et al. 2017a). It is carrying out research on the species's reproductive biology, survival rates, abundance and habitat use, the impacts of releasing individuals and the potential for bird ecotourism (Blue-fronted Amazon Project n.d.). The “Projeto Papagaio da Caatinga” (Caatinga Blue-fronted Amazon Project), run by the CEMAFAUNA rescue centre and UNIVASF university, is carrying out rehabilitation and releasing individuals in areas from which the species has been extirpated. Population monitoring and research on the species's ecology, distribution and threats has taken place in Chiquitania, Bolivia (Berkunsky et al. 2017a).

Research and Conservation Actions Proposed

Improve monitoring and control of trade in live individuals in Brazil, especially during the species's reproductive season (Schunk et al. 2011). Monitor population trends and the impact of capture across the species's range (Schunk et al. 2011). Protect the species's habitat, especially in the Cerrado (Berkunsky et al. 2017a). Create and extend protected areas at known breeding and feeding areas (Schunk et al. 2011). Protect large communal roosts (Seixas and Mourão 2018). Increase awareness of the species and its requirements (Schunk et al. 2011). Promote 'green grazing' initiatives and encourage sustainable livelihoods such as ecotourism and beekeeping (Schunk et al. 2011, Berkunsky et al. 2017a). Encourage the retention of dead palm-trees within pastures to provide nesting sites (Schunk et al. 2011). Research the impacts of releasing confiscated individuals (Berkunsky et al. 2017a).

Identification

37 cm. Generally green parrot with blue forecrown; yellow, blue or green face, chin and throat; red shoulder and speculum; dark-blue tips to primaries. Hindcrown, posterior ear-coverts, sides of neck, nape and mantle have a scaled effect. The green tail has a yellowish tip, with lateral feathers basally barred with red (Collar et al. 2019).

Acknowledgements

Text account compilers
Stattersfield, A., Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Wheatley, H.

Contributors
Saidenberg, A. & Tella, J.L.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Amazona aestiva. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/turquoise-fronted-amazon-amazona-aestiva on 04/03/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 04/03/2024.