Justification of Red List Category
This species has been uplisted to Critically Endangered because information on local population trends indicate that the species is undergoing an extremely rapid population decline, which is primarily caused by exceptionally high levels of trapping for the cagebird trade and by habitat loss. In small parts of the range, conservation action managed to halt poaching pressure and local populations show signs of recovery.
Partners in Flight (2019) estimate the population to number fewer than 50,000 mature individuals; however, recent evidence suggests that the population is considerably smaller than this. The species is known to be in rapid, ongoing decline. Current population estimates include 400-520 individuals in Guatemala (Muccio 2019; M. Dupin in litt. 2020; L. Joyner in litt. 2021), up to 200 individuals in El Salvador (N. Herrera in litt. 2021) and a few hundred individuals in Honduras and Nicaragua, respectively (L. Joyner in litt. 2021). Census data for Costa Rica suggest a population of at least 1,195 individuals in 2021 (C. Sánchez in litt. 2021).
Comprehensive surveys carried out in 2016 and 2018-2019 following a standard protocol estimate a population of 2,361 individuals across the range (Wright et al. 2019; Dupin et al. 2020). This roughly equates to 1,575 mature individuals. To account for uncertainty, the population is here placed in the band 1,000-2,499 mature individuals. It is assumed that the species forms three subpopulations, equivalent to the three recognised subspecies auropalliata, ranging from Mexico to Costa Rica, caribaea, on the islands north of Honduras, and parvipes, in northeastern Honduras and northern Nicaragua (see del Hoyo et al. 2020).
The species is in rapid decline as a result of numerous threats, predominantly on-going habitat destruction and unsustainable levels of poaching and exploitation for the pet trade (Dahlin et al. 2018). Observations, surveys and anecdotal evidence suggest that such declines are common throughout the entirety of the range. As such, an overall population decline of c.50% from c.1980 to 2000 has been reported (Anon. 2008). This equates to a rate of decline of 56% over three generations (35 years) during this period.
Recent population surveys support a population crash, although original population numbers are difficult to acquire. Observations suggest that the population in southern Guatemala has plummeted since the 1990s (L. Joyner in litt. 2011). Recent surveys in southwestern Guatemala resulted in no sightings at two sites where the species had historically been sighted, and less that 20 individuals were observed in total. Locals reported that environmental degradation contributed to the direct loss of one population and it is thought that certain subpopulations may now be extirpated (M. Dupin in litt. 2020). While the population in southern Guatemala numbered 30,000-50,000 individuals in the 1980s and 1990s, only less than 500 individuals were found in the area in 2019 (Muccio 2019), which translates to a decline of c.98% over three generations (35 years). In El Salvador, the species has disappeared from previously occupied sites (Herrera et al. 2020). Interviews with local elders in south-western El Salvador provide anecdotal evidence that the species has undergone a significant decline since the 1950s and 1960s (R. Bjork in litt. 2011) and it is thought that subpopulations may be on the verge of extirpation here also (T. Wright in litt. 2020). In the early 1990s, the population in Gracias a Dios, Honduras, was estimated at c.123,000 individuals; however, by this time the species had been nearly extirpated from Choluteca and El Valle (Wiedenfeld 1993). Counts conducted in the Bay Islands of Honduras revealed populations on some islands; as a consequence of intensive conservation action aimed at stopping poaching, the species is now starting to recover on Guanaja island (L. Joyner in litt. 2021). Surveys in Nicaragua indicate a steep decline in the species’s abundance between 1994-1995 and 2004 (Lezama et al. 2004), and locals in some areas report that the species has disappeared from the vicinity of human settlements (Grijalva 2008). There has been some suggestion that the introduction of a ban in trade of the species in Nicaragua may have slowed or halted declines locally (A. Salinas-Melgoza in litt. 2016): as a result of intensive conservation action to stop poaching the population on Ometepe island in Nicaragua appears to recover now, numbering several hundred individuals (Wright et al. 2019; L. Joyner in litt. 2021). Nevertheless, sites in Nicaragua that had previously held large numbers may now hold very few (M. Lezama per C. Dahlin and T. Wright in litt. 2016; Wright et al. 2019).
Formal surveys of twelve roosts in Costa Rica, surveyed in both 2005 and 2016, highlighted a 54% population decline across the period, in a region formerly considered a stronghold of the species (Wright et al. 2019). Based on this survey data, it appears that the rate of population decline has been accelerating over the past 20 years. Assuming that the decline is continuing at the same rate to the present day and into the future, the population in Costa Rica is declining by 92% over three generations (35 years).
Although there are no trend estimates for the remainder of the range, anecdotal evidence indicate that the steep declines observed in Costa Rica and southern Guatemala are mirrored in other range states. Locally, populations may however show stable or even increasing trends, largely as a consequence of intense conservation action. The overall population decline is here placed in the band 80-99% over three generations.
Amazona auropalliata is found in Mexico and Central America, occurring along the Pacific slope of the isthmus in southern Mexico (Oaxaca and Chiapas), Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and north-western Costa Rica, the Bay Islands of Honduras (see also Gilardi 2014), and the Caribbean slope in eastern Honduras and north-eastern Nicaragua (Juniper and Parr 1998; Taylor 2013). Costa Rica is considered the species's stronghold (Wright et al. 2019).
Despite occurring mainly in forests and woodlands, in recent years the species appears to have established populations in cities and urban parks, likely originating from escaped cagebirds (C. Muccio in litt. 2019; N. Herrera in litt. 2021; C. Sánchez in litt. 2021).
It inhabits semi-arid woodland and semi-deciduous forest, arid scrub and savannas, mangroves, clearings in deciduous forest, Pacific swamp-forest, evergreen gallery forest and sometimes secondary growth in agricultural landscapes (Juniper and Parr 1998, Taylor 2013, R. Bjork in litt. 2011). Work involving radio-tagged individuals has shown that the species may also make use of farming and ranching areas (Salinas-Melgoza et al. 2013), and land management type can influence home range size and roosting behaviour (Salinas-Melgoza et al. 2013). This may be a result of differences in resource availability (Salinas-Melgoza et al. 2013). Yellow-naped Amazons have been reported to use traditional sites for roosting for decades (Wright 1996), though data from radio-tagged individuals indicate that traditional roosts may change location (A. Salinas-Melgoza and T. Wright in litt. 2016). Roost size can be up to several hundred individuals (Matzuak and Brightsmith 2007), though in some areas roost size has reduced significantly (M. Lezama per C. Dahlin and T. Wright in litt. 2016). The species may perform regional movements of up to 16 km (A. Salinas-Melgoza and T. Wright in litt. 2016); and genetic evaluations indicate there are high rates of gene flow through Costa Rica with ongoing dispersal, probably female-biased (Wright et al. 2005). The species's diet has been seldom studied, but so far it has been found to feed on 48 food plant species (Matuzak et al. 2008, A. Salinas-Melgoza and T. Wright in litt. 2016).
The species is threatened by habitat loss and degradation, driven primarily by the expansion of agriculture, and capture for local and international trade (Juniper and Parr 1998; Anon. 2008). Deforestation has been a prevalent threat in all range states (Grijalva 2008). For example, mangrove forests in the Gulf of Fonseca region are being cleared for the development of aquaculture and extraction of firewood and timber (Grijalva 2008). In Honduras, the species has been recorded as being c.93% less common in modified habitats, such as cultivation, compared to broadleaved forest (Wiedenfeld 1993). The conversion of areas to sugar cane or rice production is also threatening its habitat, particularly in Nicaragua (C. Dahlin and T. Wright in litt. 2016). In Mexico, less than 30% of the original cover of primary habitat remains within the species's range (J. C. Cantú in litt. 2021).
The species is considered one of the most sought-after psittacines in the Central American pet trade, owing to its vocal capabilities (Wiedenfeld 1993; R. Bjork in litt. 2011; J. Gilardi in litt. 2011; C. Muccio in litt. 2021). During the 1990s, close to 100% of known nests in southern Guatemala were subject to poaching; since 2004, 74 individuals have been seized from illegal trade (L. Joyner in litt. 2011; C. Muccio in litt. 2021). In El Salvador, the species also suffers heavy nest-poaching (R. Bjork in litt. 2011). At least 100 individuals are legally kept as pets in the country, while 57 individuals were confiscated from illegal trade between 2014 and 2019 (N. Herrera in litt. 2021). It has been reported that each year c.5,000 young A. auropalliata are smuggled out of the La Mosquitia region, Honduras (per O. Andino in litt. 2011), although this has not been verified. Such numbers would not be unrealistic given that on average, 8,388 birds were recorded in export from Honduras each year in the period 1987-1989 (Wiedenfeld 1993). Not only adults and chicks, but also eggs are sought after by traffickers (L. Joyner in litt. 2021). An increase in seizure levels in Mexico suggests that trapping pressure is currently increasing (J. C. Cantú in litt. 2021). The numbers recorded in export from Nicaragua appeared to be decreasing in the past (Lezama et al. 2004); however, nest poaching is still high (J. A. Díaz Luque in litt. 2011; M. Lezama in litt. 2011), and thought to affect over 50% of nests in Rivas department (M. Lezama in litt. 2011). Recent market surveys however show that trade has been increasing again since 2016 in Managua, Rivas and further cities, despite being prohibited by law (M. Lezama in litt. 2020). In Costa Rica roughly a third of nests were raided, accounting for c.85% of the all nest failures observed (Wright et al. 2001; Grijalva 2008), although in another study conducted near Liberia, up to 100% of the nests located by researchers had been poached (A. Salinas-Melgoza in litt. 2011). In southern Guatemala, almost only those nests which are inaccessible by poachers successfully fledge young (L. Joyner in litt. 2021). The nest failure rate was generally found to be very high in Costa Rica (89%), with the majority of nest failures found to result from poaching for the pet trade (64%) (Dahlin et al. 2018). Poaching of nestlings can also affect future breeding in the species, as damage of nest trees when extracting nestlings can make the tree no longer usable as a nest site (C. Dahlin per A. Salinas-Melgoza in litt. 2016). It is thought that twice as many are taken from the wild than are recorded in export, based on a mortality rate of 54% during capture and transit (Pérez and Zúñiga 1998 in Grijalva 2008), although a survival rate of one in three or four has also been reported (per O. Andino in litt. 2011).
Anthropogenic threats are thought to exacerbate the effects of poor rates of recruitment to the breeding population (Grijalva 2008). In parts of the range, the species suffers from cavity occupation by Africanised Bees (R. Bjork in litt. 2011). Climate change may also have an impact on the species as there have been hotter and longer dry seasons in the region, though the impact of this on the species is essentially currently unknown (C. Dahlin and T. Wright in litt. 2016).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. The species occurs in a number of protected areas. Efforts have been underway to get a c.4,000-ha area east Monterrico on the Pacific coast of Guatemala declared as a protected area (C. Muccio in litt. 2011). The species has been the subject of a number of local studies, some on-going, aimed at gathering information on population trends and threats. The extent of wildlife exploitation for trade has been highlighted by local media, for example in Honduras (per O. Andino in litt. 2011). Initiative 007-99 in Nicaragua aimed to ban any international and domestic trade for the species in 2004 (Ministerio del Ambiente y Recursos Naturales 2004), and an initiative by the Mexican government has banned capture and trade of all native Mexican species (J. Cantu per A. Salinas-Melgoza in litt. 2016). An awareness campaign by a number of NGOs has been launched in Mexico aiming to protect all parrot native species, including the Yellow-naped Amazon (J. Cantu per A. Salinas-Melgoza in litt. 2016). Nestbox schemes and educational campaigns have been established in Nicaragua (Anon. 2016). On Ometepe Island in Nicaragua and on Guanaja Island in Honduras, poaching could be stopped due to intensive conservation action, and the populations there now show start to recover (L. Joyner in litt. 2021).
36 cm. Typically robust and predominantly green Amazona species, showing bright yellow nape patch and bright red outer four secondaries, forming a speculum. Distal half of tail sometimes yellowish green. Bill and bare skin around eyes pale to dark grey. Typically vocal, uttering a variety of squawks, screams and whistles.
Text account compilers
Hermes, C., Everest, J.
Andino, O., Bjork, R., Butchart, S., Cantu, J., Dahlin, C., Dupin, M., Díaz Luque, J.A., Ekstrom, J., Gilardi, J., Herrera, N., Joyner, L., Komar, O., Lezama, M., Muccio, C., Panjabi, A., Salinas-Melgoza, A., Symes, A., Sánchez, C., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.R.S. & Wright, T.
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Amazona auropalliata. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2022.