St. Vincent and Grenadines Association of Toronto

St. Vincent Parrot

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St. Vincent Parrot
Amazona guildingii (Vigors, 1837)
The National Bird of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The St. Vincent Parrot (Amazona guildingii), also known as the St. Vincent Amazon is the National Bird of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is endemic to St. Vincent where it inhabits moist forest areas at elevations from 410 to 3,280 feet (125 to 1,000 metres).

This colourful parrot reaches about 16 inches (40 cm) in size and passes through various forms and colours in successive stages of its development. A more common yellow-brown form sports a white head with yellow shading and a bluish patch around the eyes. The back of the neck is scaled grey, while the upper parts and breast are scaled bronze and washed with green. The primary wings are black with yellow bases, and the secondary wings are dark blue with orange bases. The covering of the flight feathers is orange and red, and the tail is dark blue with an orange base and yellow terminal band. A less common green form is duller and lacks orange. The upper parts of this form are greenish, and a bluish tinge encircles the face.

Generally the St. Vincent parrot nests in the cavities of mature, large trees. Breeding takes place between January and June. Birds normally feed in the forest canopy, on a wide variety of fruits, seeds and flowers. They emit a variety of noisy calls including, yapping, honking, shrieking, bubbling and squawking.

The St. Vincent parrot is listed as an endangered species on the CITES Appendix I which prohibits all commercial trade in species on that list. Over the years various activities such as forestry, the expansion of banana cultivation, the cage-bird trade, and natural events such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions have caused decline in the parrot population. There are an estimated 800 of these parrots left in the wild.

However the wild population is believed to have stabilized and is slowly increasing. This is a direct result of better protection for the birds and their forest habitats. In addition, as stated in The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Third National Biodiversity Report,
"There is a captive breeding programme in place for the St. Vincent Parrot (Amazona guildingii) at the Nicholls Wildlife Complex housed in the Botanical Gardens. There is also an international consortium (St. Vincent Parrot Conservation Consortium) of persons who acquired St. Vincent Parrots before 1987 when the Wildlife Protection Act came into force."

This strikingly beautiful bird can be viewed in captivity at the Nicholls Wildlife Complex, and hikers along some of St. Vincent's nature trails have reported seeing the birds flying very high in the sky.

[Note: The specific epithet "guildingii" is a name attributed in honour of Rev. Lansdown Guilding (1797-1831) who
published many articles on the flora and fauna of the Caribbean, especially of St. Vincent, as well as a book titled "An Account of the Botanic Garden in the Island of St. Vincent", published in Glasgow, Scotland in 1825.]

Fred Prescod
Horticultural Educator

 

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