Justification of Red List Category
This species is suffering from trapping pressure and habitat loss in large parts of its range in mainland Venezuela. Despite population increases as a consequence of conservation measures on Caribbean islands, the overall population is thought to decline slowly. The total population size is suspected to be small and consisting of several moderately small subpopulations. The species is therefore listed as Near Threatened.
The overall population size is unclear and difficult to assess. The subpopulation on Margarita Island was estimated at 1,600 individuals in 2019 (J. M. Briceño-Linares per Provita in litt. 2020), which equates to roughly 1,000 mature individuals. The subpopulation on Bonaire numbered around 700 individuals in 2017 (DCNA 2018), equating to 450 mature individuals. The most recent estimate from La Blanquilla is from 1996-1998, when the island held around 100 individuals (Sanz and Rodríguez-Ferraro 2006), equating to roughly 60 mature individuals. The subpopulation in north-western Venezuela was estimated at over 5,000 individuals in 2012 (V. Sanz in litt. 2016), equating to roughly 3,300 mature individuals. In view of the ongoing threats, it is suspected that this subpopulation has declined since then (Ferrer-Paris et al. 2014). There are no estimates for the subpopulation in north-eastern Venezuela, but based on observational records (eBird 2021), it is may be smaller than the north-western subpopulation (Ferrer-Paris et al. 2014). Based on the available values for the subpopulation sizes, assuming that the subpopulation in north-western Venezuela is now below 3,300 mature individuals, and accounting for a subpopulation of unknown size in north-eastern Venezuela, it is preliminarily inferred that the total population numbers between 2,500 and 9,999 mature individuals.
The species is assumed to form five subpopulations; on Bonaire, La Blanquilla, Margarita, in north-western Venezuela and north-eastern Venezuela. It is thought that the largest subpopulation is found in north-western Venezuela (C. Sharpe in litt. 2021), which numbered up to 3,300 mature individuals in 2012 but has likely declined since then. It is here tentatively placed in the band 1,000-3,300 mature individuals.
The largest subpopulation on Margarita Island has increased from 750 individuals in 1989 (Sanz and Grajal 1998) to 1,600 individuals in 2019 (J. M. Briceño-Linares per Provita in litt. 2020) and is currently considered to be stable (V. Sanz in litt. 2016). On Bonaire, the size of the subpopulation increased moderately from c. 350 individuals in 1980 to around 700 individuals in 2017 (DCNA 2018). There is no information on the trend of the subpopulation on La Blanquilla. The stable or increasing trends on the islands are due to conservation efforts; if these were to stop the populations may start declining (R. Martin in litt. 2021).
On the mainland, the species was in decline in 2003 (Hilty 2003), but there are no recent trend estimates available. The detection probability was found to be stable in 70% of the mainland range, declining in 18% and increasing in 12% (E. Blanco in litt. 2020). Nevertheless, both subpopulations on the mainland are facing a number of threats, including habitat loss and high pressure from hunting for the bird trade (R. Martin in litt. 2020; Provita in litt. 2020; L. Schmaltz in litt. 2020). It is inferred that as a consequence of these threats, the population on the mainland is undergoing a decline. Despite the stable or increasing trends of the subpopulations on the islands, it is precautionarily assumed that due to the declines on the mainland, the overall population is undergoing a continuing decline. The rate has not been quantified, but is suspected to exceed 10% over three generations (R. Martin and T. James in litt. 2021).
This species has a disjunt range. It is found in two isolated populations in northern coastal Venezuela (one in the north-west near Coro and one in the north-east near Puerto la Cruz), as well as on the islands of Margarita, La Blanquilla and Bonaire (to Netherlands) (Rodríguez-Ferraro 2009). The species is extinct in the Paraguaná peninsula on mainland Venezuela (Briceño-Linares et al. 2011) and became extinct on Aruba (to Netherlands) around 1950 (Rojas-Suárez and Rodríguez 2015). Based on an 18th century historical source (A. O. Debrot in litt. 1999, 2007), a population was present on Curaçao (to Netherlands) in the past. Individuals have been recorded increasingly in recent years on Curaçao, but it is unclear whether these reports refer to escaped cagebirds, to occasional migrants from Aruba, or whether there is a self-sustaining population (E. Houtepen per R. Martin in litt. 2020).
It inhabits xerophytic vegetation, frequenting dry desert shrublands dominated by cacti and low thorn-bushes or trees (Collar et al. 2020). Nesting takes place in cavities in trees, cacti or cliffs, generally from March to August (Sanz and Rodríguez-Ferraro 2006). Average clutch size is 3.38 eggs per nest, and most eggs survive until hatching. It tends to roost communally in tall trees, with groups of up to 700 birds recorded (Juniper and Parr 1998).
The main threat is from poaching for pets and the pet trade (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2011, 2021; Rojas-Suárez and Rodríguez 2015). In Venezuela, this species is the 4th most traded parrot (Sánchez-Mercado et al. 2020). Individuals are widely exploited for trade, serving a strong internal pet market; many chicks taken in Bonaire are believed to end up in Curaçao (R. Martin and S. Williams in litt. 2007; Martin 2009). Additionally, in some areas it is hunted for allegedly damaging crops (Rodríguez and Rojas-Suárez 1995; Snyder et al. 2000; Briceño-Linares et al. 2011; Collar et al. 2020). Negative attitudes due to its perception as a crop pest in agricultural and urban areas of Bonaire may encourage persecution and undermine support for conservation efforts (R. Martin and S. Williams in litt. 2012).
Habitat loss and degradation are a further threat. An impoverishment of food resources and lack of mature trees for nest sites are feared to limit the effective population size. Tourist and associated developments are destroying habitat, especially on Margarita, where the principal breeding, roosting and feeding-sites are threatened by unregulated mining for construction materials (Collar 1997; Snyder et al. 2000). Dry forests and spiny scrub cover have become extensively reduced on Margarita and are now considered to be among the most endangered ecosystems on this island (Provita in litt. 2020). On Bonaire, natural vegetation has been heavily degraded historically for timber and charcoal production, and more recently through intensive grazing by goats and donkeys, drastically reducing natural food species diversity and availability (A. O. Debrot in litt. 1999, 2007). In the eastern part of the mainland range, habitat is being lost through timber extraction and urban and industrial development (V. S. D'Angelo in litt. 2016). Habitat modification for aquaculture and shrimp farming is an emerging threat in the western part of the mainland range (E. Blanco per Provita in litt. 2020).
Introduced mammalian predators appear to limit its reproductive potential on Bonaire (R. Martin and S. Williams in litt. 2007; Martin 2009). Also on La Blanquilla, introduced predators including domestic cats (Felis catus) are feared to drive a population decline (Provita in litt. 2020).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. It occurs in Morrocoy, Cerro El Copey, Laguna de la Restinga, Juan Crisóstomo Falcón, Cerro Saroche and Washington-Slagbaai National Parks. In 2009, the 700 ha Chacaracual Community Conservation Area was established by the Venezuelan NGO Provita (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2011). Legal protection in Venezuela is weakly enforced (C. J. Sharpe, J. P. Rodríguez and F. Rojas-Suárez in litt. 1999; Rojas-Suárez and Rodríguez 2015).
On Bonaire, awareness campaigns began in 1998-1999 and are ongoing, in combination with ecological research activity. An amnesty of captive birds took place in 2002, with all declared birds identified using a numbered ring on the leg to aid in anti-poaching law enforcement (R. Martin and S. Williams in litt. 2007). People still keeping illegal birds can be fined up to $550 (Williams 2010). In 2010, the NGO Echo Bonaire was established to address threats through research and monitoring. Habitat restoration in ongoing; in 2006 and 2007, reforestation of the Washington-Slagbaai park began by successful reintroduction of rare native drought-resistant berry and fruit bearing tree species. In 2007, a fence to exclude goats from a large section of the park was restored (A. O. Debrot in litt. 2007). Supplemental feeding has also been carried out during extreme droughts (A. O. Debrot in litt. 1999, 2007). In 2011 and 2012, 24 captive-reared birds were released on Bonaire (R. Martin and S. Williams in litt. 2012). A species management plan for the Dutch Caribbean has been produced (Williams 2012).
Conservation programmes on Margarita and La Blanquilla are led by Provita. A reintroduction programme was preceded by five years of environmental education, public awareness and ecological studies (Sanz and Grajal 1998). As a result of this programme, 1,584 chicks have been released since 1990 (Provita in litt. 2020). Awareness-raising campaigns on Margarita and La Blanquilla are ongoing (Snyder et al. 2000; Rojas-Suárez and Rodríguez 2015). On Margarita, artificial nests were introduced but were used very infrequently (J. P. Rodriguez in litt. 2016) and suffered higher rates of poaching. The repair of natural nesting cavities has proved more successful (Sanz et al. 2003); Provita carry out guarding of nest sites to protect nestlings from poachers and allow them to fledge. Attempts to establish a protected area on Macanao Peninsula in western Margarita have failed to gain approval from authorities, even though they were supported by public backing (Guillén Montero 2015). In collaboration with conservationists in Bonaire, a management plan for Margarita is being prepared (J. M. Briceño-Linares per Provita in litt. 2020).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to determine distribution and status throughout its range. Urgently quantify the population size in mainland Venezuela. Monitor key populations. Assess and quantify the impact of trapping on the population size. Monitor trapping and trade levels. Finalise the management plan for Margarita and coordinate efforts with Bonaire's programmes.
On Bonaire, establish protected areas of key breeding, roosting and feeding habitats (A. O. Debrot in litt. 1999, 2007). On Margarita, establish a protected area in the Macanao Peninsula to protect remnant dry forests along creek beds, which are used for roosting and breeding (Rojas-Suárez and Rodríguez 2015). Promote habitat restoration. Explore the potential for reintroduction to Aruba, where suitable habitat is thought to exist (R. Martin and S. Williams in litt. 2012). Reduce poaching incentives (A. O. Debrot in litt. 1999, 2007). Strengthen and sustain anti-poaching measures in known breeding areas (A. O. Debrot in litt. 1999, 2007). Continue to carry out conservation education and awareness-raising programmes (Rojas-Suárez and Rodríguez 2015).
33 cm. Overall green parrot with white forehead and lores. Yellow crown and ear-coverts around bare white orbital patch. Yellow chin. Bluish tinge on lower cheeks and around chin. Yellow shoulders and thighs. Red speculum. Dark blue tips to flight feathers. Voice Noisy and raucous, including dry rattling screeet and trilling scree-ee-ee-ak.
Text account compilers
Wheatley, H., Hermes, C.
Benstead, P., Blanco, E., Briceño-Linares, J., Capper, D., Clay, R.P., D'Angelo, V., Debrot, A., García Rawlins, A., Houtepen, E., Isherwood, I., Martin, R., Provita, Rodríguez, J.-P., Rodríguez-Ferraro, A., Rojas-Suárez, F., Sanz, V., Schmaltz, L., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Wege, D. & Williams, S.
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Amazona barbadensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/09/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/09/2022.