Rare Species Conservatory Foundation

Imperial AmazonImperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis) - Description: The Imperial Amazon of Dominica is arguably one of the most striking members of the genus Amazona. This large, impressive parrot is characterized by vivid purple feathers tipped in black that cover the head and chest, along with deep green featheres on the wings, back and tail. The beak and feet are greyish-black and the birds' iris is bright orange. Known locally as the Sisserou, the Imperial is not sexually dimorphic, and males and females are nearly identical in appearance. The Imperial is a large bird, 45-50 cm in length. Males can weigh up to 900 g; females about 650 g.

Range/Habitat: The Imperial Amazon occurs only on the Caribbean island of Dominica, and is the island's national bird. It is confined to about 22,000 acres of mountainous rainforest adjacent to the Morne Diablotin and Morne Trois Pitons National Parks. Since hurricane David hit the island in 1980, Imperials have been restricted to the slopes of northern Morne Diablotin. Over the past twenty years, a southern population within Morne Trois Pitons National Park has become re-established.

Diet: Like many Amazon parrot species, the Imperial eats a wide variety of fruits, nuts and local vegetation; including epiphydic bromeliads and anthuriums which grow high in the rainforest canopy.

Social Organization: Shy by nature, Imperials typically travel as singles, pairs or trios. Pairs are extremely bonded and will remain together for the life of the mate. Nesting commences from February through April, with fledging from June through early September. Females lay a clutch of two white eggs in deep cavities formed in rainforest trees. The female will incubate the eggs for 26-28 days. Both parents take turns feeding the chicks, until they are fully feathered and leave the nest. Usually only a single chick will survive to fledging.

Conservation Status: The Imperial Amazon is listed by CITES as Appendix I and is categorized as threatened. The current population estimate is 300-400 birds. As of April, 2012, one female is housed in captivity in the Parrot Conservation and Research Centre (PCRC) located in Dominica's capital city, Rosseau. 2010 marked the first-ever captive breeding for the species, with a single chick hatching in the aviary on May 5. Click here for more information.

Threats to Survival: Human disturbance of forest habitat, encroachment, hurricanes, competition with Jaco parrot and owls for nest cavities, and shrinking overall habitat.

Conservation: Broad-scale, comprehensive campaign that includes protection of vast pristine forest habitat, progressive protected-area policies, continuous field research, recent revision of wildlife legislation, establishment of the PCRC, training and support for staff of Dominica's Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, and acquisition of buffer areas and essential habitat for inclusion in Dominica's National Parks System.

Education: Since its inception in July 2001 as a joint effort between Dominica's Forestry, Wildlife, and Parks Division and RSCF, a Public Service Announcement Program has proven effective in delivering targeted environmental/conservation education messages to the public. Over 35 PSA's, spanning commercial and governmental broadcast radio, television, and print media have been produced and aired. Themes include wildlife, forests, parrots, environmental stewardship, natural resource protection, hunting regulations, and environmental policy issues. Narrators range from school children to senior citizens, and Forestry officers to local celebrities. As radio remains the predominant daytime news source for most Dominicans, the 15-second PSA spots on commercial stations DBS (Dominica Broadcasting Service) and KAIRI-FM, and non-profit Voice of Life Radio offer the greatest exposure to the widest audience. DBS currently airs various combinations of PSA's (at Forestry's discretion) two to three times daily free of charge, in exchange for standard studio/production fees for PSA's at the DBS studio. Forestry and DBS have also teamed to produce Creole PSA's for audiences on the east coast for whom English is a second language. The popular 15- and 30-second PSA's are also aired repeatedly on the Voice of Life (charitable AM/FM Christian radio station) at substantially discounted rates.

2010 marked the first-ever captive breeding of the Imperial Amazon. Click here for details, photos and more.

Click here for more information about Dominica's Parrot Conservation Programs.