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Wildlife

The Spectacular Puerto Rican Parrot

The Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vittata), also known as the Puerto Rican Amazon, has been on the endangered list since 1967. Their numbers, both in the wild and in captivity are dangerously low. The Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program has been working tirelessly to raise awareness to the plight of this remarkable bird species. The program has been working together with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources to ensure that the Puerto Rican Parrot has a future to look forward to.

Identification of the Puerto Rican Amazon is relatively easy as its brilliant green plumage with blue edging is hard to miss. Its forehead is covered in red feathers and has a white outline around its eyes. But it is when these spectacular birds spread their wings that one really appreciates their beauty as the underside of their wings are bright blue in color and their tails have a faint glow of yellow. The Puerto Rican Amazon is a relatively small parrot and measures between twenty-eight to thirty centimeters in size. The male and female birds look exactly alike and can only be distinguished by DNA testing or during breeding season by observing their behavior during this time.

The diet of the Puerto Rican Parrot includes leaves, fruits, nectar, bark, seeds and flowers. They are found in wooded areas and spend most of their time in the tree canopy. Sexual maturity is reached at approximately four years of age and breeding pairs will remain mates for the duration of their lives. Nests are built high off the ground in tree hollows to guard against predators. The female can lay between two to four eggs. The incubation period for the eggs is twenty-four to twenty-eight days and the chicks will remain under their parents care for a maximum period of sixty-eight days. Even though the chicks have left the nest, they will remain with their parents until they find their own partners in the next breeding season.

The conservation of the Puerto Rican Parrot is high priority, as their numbers in the wild hang dangerously in the balance. Over and above their natural predators, such as falcons, hawks and mongooses, capture by humans and natural disasters also threaten the survival of this species. Conservation, protection and education can assist in the preservation of this magnificent bird. Even if you have never done bird watching before, it will be worth your while to take some time to observe this fascinating Puerto Rican bird.