Yellow Headed Amazon

(Amazona oratrix belizensis)

About the yellow-head

The Yellow-head parrot is a subspecies unique to Belize. Their startling ability to mimic has made them a highly sought-after victim of the illegal pet trade.


It is a CITES listed Endangered Species. In 1994 the last accurate population count identified a 90% decrease in numbers over the 2 decades from 70,000 to just 7,000 individuals.

 

A transect count by Belize Bird Conservancy in 2016 estimates populations in Belize at around 1,200 birds throughout its 4,500km² distribution range.

Conservation initiatives

 

Rehabilitation of former captive parrots

We used to believe that former captive oratrix were too habituated for successful release into the wild. We now know that is not true, although rehabilitation has taken up to 9 years. Since 2014 we have successfully released 34 former captive yellow-heads back into the wild. Others are still undergoing lengthy rehabilitation at the Centre.

 

At-risk chick hand-rearing for release

We began a collaborative conservation effort for yellow-head parrots of the Payne’s Creek National Park, Toledo in 2014, and additionally with Programme for Belize (at Rio Bravo) in 2015.

 

Chicks that are unlikely to fledge due to poaching, predation, nest destabilisation and overcrowding are carefully removed and transported to BBR to be hand-raised. 

 

Since starting the programme, we have returned 41 hand-reared chicks to the wild and as of August 2018 have a further 31 due for release in April 2018

By kind permission, Melanie Sorenson, Minnesota Zoo

Threats to yellow head parrots

 

Poaching

It is illegal to capture or keep any form of wildlife in Belize, and both demand and supply of illegal wildlife is diminishing annually. However poaching still remains a major issue, especially for the iconic yellow-head.

Nest damage

Yellow-heads nest in deep cavities in pine trees. The savannahs are sparse and the nests highly visible. Poachers chop a new hole below the nest opening to access the babies, the following year parrots create a new cavity using the chopped hole for access. Repeated over the years the nest gets progressively lower and more accessible to man and other predators. This also eventually kills the tree making it unstable and vulnerable to fire.

Habitat destruction

The pine savanna nesting grounds are prone to fires in the dry season and dead trees from repeated poaching damage accelerate the burning. Fires are often set deliberately to facilitate illegal hunting. Trees are harvested illegally and savanna destroyed for agriculture and highways.

Crop pest

Yellow-heads are attracted to the citrus groves. They eat the blossoms and destroy the fruit in search of seeds Citrus is one of the largest agriculture industries in Belize, and many farms have been known to use lethal deterrents.

 

Natural Issues

Chicks are predated by raptors, mammals and rodents. Key yellow-head nests are often occupied by other birds and even mammals. Hurricanes, fires and floods effect nesting success.

 

CONTACT

Belize Bird Rescue Avian Rehabilitation Centre & Sanctuary

Rock Farm, Roaring Creek

PO Box 219 Belmopan

Cayo District, Belize

Tel: (+501) 610 0400

email: belizebirdrescue@gmail.com

Founders: Nikki Buxton & Jerry Larder

Non-profit organisation number 13777

NGO registration number 144/2015

Registered Office:

Rock Farm, Roaring Creek, Cayo District, Belize

© 2004 - 2018 Belize Bird Rescue All Rights Reserved

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