Bahamian subspecies of the Cuban Amazon nesting in the ground

August 12th, 2016 | by LubosTomiska
Bahamian subspecies of the Cuban Amazon nesting in the ground
Conservation projects


As one of a few parrots in the world, Amazona leucocephala bahamensis alias Abaco Parrot has a very unique habit – it nests in the ground. Instead of finding tree cavities which are commonly used by parrots, these birds search for holes in the ground which are a result of geological processes in limestone footwall. Such adaption brings benefits in form of protection against hurricanes and fires. On the other hand,  in the ground birds are threatened by feral cats and rodents. Nevertheless, the wild population is increasing. In 1994, there were less than 2000 individuals in Abaco National Park. Today, there are almost 8000 birds.

This news was brought by on-line daily which refers to conservation organization Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and US Fish and Wildlife Service. According to its representative, Dr. Frank Rivera-Milán, the number of the wild „ground-nesting“ parrots has been doubled within the last four years. In 2012, only four thousands birds were surviving there. These parrots are also found on New Providence and Inagua island. However, only birds from Abaco nest in the ground.



Predators as the main threat

In 2009, Abaco National Park launched a project which should eradicate feral cats and rodents. According to Dr. Rivera-Milán, this program is very successful and helps to protect native birds. Conservationists from BNT have also decided to improve monitoring of the current wild population of the Abaco Parrot. So far, it has been counted every four years. From now, they will count it every second year.

Pine forests with limestone footwall are inhabited by Abaco Parrots only during the nesting season. Off the season, they move to broadleaf forests and feed on berries there. Amazona leucocephala bahamensis is one of the five subspecies of the Cuban Amazon.

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Title photo: (c) Rolling Harbour Abaco


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