An oft-repeated story suggests that parrots, most likely one of the Amazons, may have figured prominently in the history of the New World as well. Legend has it that, after over 2 months of sailing through featureless seas, the crew of Columbus’ ship Pinta was ready to mutiny. The ship’s captain, Mr. Pinzon, advised Columbus to continue westward, as he had observed “forest birds” flying in that direction. Upon landing on San Salvador, Columbus observed the green birds seen by Mr. Pinzon in the huts of the people living there.
Some time later, tame parrots roosting near villages on several Caribbean islands were also said to have warned the residents of the approach of the Spanish conquistadors. The journals of generals Hojida and Nicuso show that in at least one case (Yuibaco, 1509) the villagers, relying upon their pets’ warning calls, were able to escape into the forest.
An account of Columbus’ observations of parrots in the West Indies, drawn from his journals, is posted at: