The Blue-winged Amazon: A new parrot species from the Yucatan Peninsula

June 27, 2017
The male of the new Amazona. Credit: Tony Silva

The newly identified Blue-winged Amazon parrot has a loud, short call and evolved from the White-fronted parrot quite recently, about 120,000 years ago.

In 2014, during a visit to a remote part of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, ornithologist Dr. Miguel A. Gómez Garza came across parrots with a completely different from other known species.

A study published today in the open-access journal PeerJ names these birds as a new species based on its distinctive shape, colour pattern, call and behaviour. The paper compares and contrasts the distinguishing features of this species with many other parrots.

The new parrot (Amazona gomezgarzai), referred to as the Blue-winged Amazon because of its primarily blue covert feathers, is characterized by its unique green crown that contrast to blue in other Amazon parrots. This new parrot occupies a similar area in the Yucatán Peninsula as the Yucatán Amazon (A. xantholora) and the White-fronted Amazon (A. albifrons nana) but it does not hybridize with them.

A very distinctive feature of the new taxon is its call, which is loud, sharp, short, repetitive and monotonous; one particular vocalization is more reminiscent of an Accipiter than of any known parrot. The duration of syllables is much longer than in other Amazon parrot species. In flight, the call is a loud, short, sharp and repetitive yak-yak-yak. While perched, the call is mellow and prolonged.

The female of the new Amazona. Credit: Tony Silva

This species lives in small flocks of less than 12 individuals. Pairs and their offspring have a tendency to remain together and are discernible in groups. Like all members of the genus Amazona, this parrot is a herbivore. Its diet consists of seeds, fruits, flowers and leaves obtained in the tree canopy.

The analysis of mitochondrial DNA genes indicates that the blue-winged Amazon has emerged quite recently, or about 120,000 years ago, from within the A. albifrons population. During this time, the taxon differentiated sufficiently to be clearly recognizable as a new .

There is no conservation program currently in effect to preserve this but its small range and rarity should make its conservation a priority.

The video will load shortly.
These are characteristic call records of the new Amazona. Credit: Tony Silva

Explore further: Genetic analysis supports elevating Cape Parrot to new species

More information: Silva et al. (2017), A new parrot taxon from the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico—its position within genus Amazona based on morphology and molecular phylogeny. PeerJ 5:e3475; DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3475

Related Stories

Ancient parrot fossil found in Siberia

October 26, 2016

(Phys.org)—A Russian paleontologist has discovered a parrot fossil uncovered in Siberia several years ago—the first evidence of parrots living in Asia. In his paper published in Biology Letters, Nikita Zelenkov describes ...

Australian parrots need more protection

February 4, 2016

Australia has the world's highest diversity of parrots, but a new analysis by researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) has found the nation's record in conserving these beautiful birds leaves much to be desired.

Parrots imitate individuals when addressing them

November 21, 2012

Whether living with pirates or in the wild, parrots have exceptional abilities to mimic the sounds they hear. One species, the orange-fronted conure, may have evolved this ability in order to communicate with specific individuals ...

Recommended for you

Researchers unlock cheesemaking secret

August 17, 2017

Researchers say their new knowledge on the inner workings of a bacterium has important implications for Australia's billion dollar cheese industry.

Scientists discover new plant in Shetland

August 16, 2017

Scientists at the University of Stirling have discovered a new type of plant growing in Shetland - with its evolution only having occurred in the last 200 years.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.