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What Is a Puerto Rican Parrot?

The Puerto Rican Parrot, a vibrant symbol of the island's biodiversity, is a critically endangered species with a captivating emerald-green plumage. Once abundant, its numbers dwindled due to habitat loss and human encroachment. Conservation efforts are key to its survival. Discover how this parrot's fate is intertwined with the health of our planet. What steps can we take to ensure its future?
Alex Tree
Alex Tree

Also known as Amazona vittata, the Puerto Rican parrot is an Amazon bird. It is a medium-sized parrot with bright blue markings. The bird is the only parrot native to Puerto Rico, but it has been on an endangered animals list since the early 1990s. More of these parrots are alive in captivity than in the wild due to efforts to save the bird from extinction. Puerto Rican parrots usually mate for life and support their offspring from when they hatch to the next breeding season.

True to its name, the Puerto Rican parrot inhabits the United States’ Puerto Rico, which is southeast of the mainland. It is estimated that the islands once supported up to one million of these parrots. The bird likely lived in peace with the native Indians until European settlers made Puerto Rico their home. It would be centuries, however, until the Spanish population grew enough to negatively affect the bird’s habitat.

The Puerto Rican parrot is the country's only native parrot.
The Puerto Rican parrot is the country's only native parrot.

Like all parrots, the Puerto Rican parrot is primarily green, sometimes more so than other breeds of parrot. This parrot can be differentiated from other parrots by its feather wings, which are tipped with a deep blue color. The forehead is a deep red, while the eyes are surrounded by white. Its size is small compared to other Amazon birds, but it is usually viewed as a medium-sized parrot in captivity. Males and females cannot be distinguished by appearance due to their similarity.

The Puerto Rican parrot has been considered critically endangered since 1994. Habitat destruction, being hunted for food, and being caught to sell in the pet industry are this parrot’s primary threats. A recovery plan has been in place since the late 1960s, with goals to downgrade the bird’s critical status to threatened by 2020. Most birds live in captivity, but some are released every now and then in hopes of repopulating the wild Puerto Rican parrot population.

Unlike most animals, Puerto Rican parrots tend to mate for life unless one mate becomes injured or dies. Male parrots are known for leaving female parrots who become physically imperfect. The female sits on her eggs until they hatch, being fed by the male. Under some circumstances, the female might leave her nest in search of food, such as if the male fails to return. When the baby parrots hatch, both parents feed and care for them until the next breeding season, when the hatchlings begin to fend for themselves.

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    • The Puerto Rican parrot is the country's only native parrot.
      By: bogdanserban
      The Puerto Rican parrot is the country's only native parrot.