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The Sisserou or Imperial Amazon – Largest, Most Colorful and Rarest Amazon

Imperial AmazonAmazons 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. 


Further Reading

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

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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