Amazons are among the most popularly-kept and parrots, yet among their ranks we find some very rare and little-studied species. Interestingly, the largest and most spectacularly colored of the Amazons is hardly known at all to parrot enthusiasts. I think it’s important to highlight the rare members of well-known bird groups, as anything we learn concerning the habits and needs of common species may be of use in helping their less-fortunate relatives. Today I’d like to introduce the Sisserou, also known as the Imperial or Dominican Amazon (Amazona imperialis).
Clad in bright blue, green, purple and red, the Sisserou is considered by many to be the most spectacularly-colored of the Amazon Parrots. The effect of its gorgeous plumage is heightened by the bird’s size – at 18 inches in length and with a wingspan approaching 3 feet, it is the largest Amazon.
Status and Future
Unfortunately, the Sisserou also has the unhappy distinction of being among the rarest of all birds. Listed on Cites Appendix I and designated as Endangered by the IUCN, the current population is estimated at 100-250 individuals. It is limited in distribution to Caribbean nation of Dominica, in the Lesser Antilles, where, as national bird, it is featured on the flag and coat-of-arms.
Early accounts indicate that the Sisserou was a bird of mountainous forests, and likely never occurred in large numbers. Today it is rarely encountered at elevations below 2,000 feet, and is wary of people.
Deforestation and, in earlier years, collection for the pet trade, have reduced its population to critical levels. The Sisserou is not well-represented in aviculture, but is the subject of conservation efforts based mainly on the prohibition of collecting, habitat protection and nest-monitoring studies (please see article referenced below).
I’ll cover other little-known Amazon Parrots in the future.
Natural history and conservation information, along with a number of photos, are posted here.
Unfortunately, most parrot enthusiasts will never see a live Imperial Amazon…fortunately, we have You Tube! Check out this video.
Imperial Amazon image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Andrew Syzmanski and Snowmanradio