New Species of Amazon Parrot Discovered in Mexico | Biology

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A new species of parrot has been discovered in the tropical forests of the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico.

Male (right) and female paratypes of the blue-winged amazon (Amazona gomezgarzai). Image credit: T. Silva et al, doi: 10.7717/peerj.3475.

The colorful bird was first sighted in 2014 by Mexican veterinarian and ornithologist Dr. Miguel A. Gómez Garza in a remote part of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The parrots occurred in small flocks of three to five individuals and fed on the tender pods produced by leadtree.

Now studies of the parrot’s DNA, morphology, and vocalizations have confirmed it to be a unique species.

Lead author Dr. Tony Silva, a researcher at the University of Florida, and his colleagues from Mexico and Poland have named the new species the blue-winged amazon (Amazona gomezgarzai).

The bird is endemic to the Yucatán Peninsula. To date, its presence is confined to an area roughly 100 km2 that is centered south of Becanchén in Tekax municipality, Yucatán.

The species is found in tropical caducifolius and subcaducifolius forests.

It is also found in disturbed patches of native vegetation and in small, cultivated fields with scattered trees.

In normal parrot fashion, the blue-winged amazon is diurnal, beginning the day at sunrise.

It is generally secretive when resting, using its plumage as camouflage.

In contrast, it is vocal and noisy in flight. The flight is moderately fast with the mechanism that is typical of the genus Amazona with wing-beats never exceeding the horizontal axis.

“A very distinctive feature of the new species is its call, which is loud, sharp, short, repetitive and monotonous; one particular vocalization is more reminiscent of an accipiter than of any known parrot,” Dr. Silva and co-authors said.

“The duration of syllables is much longer than in other amazon parrot species. In flight, the call is a loud, short, sharp and repetitive yak-yak-yak. While perched, the call is mellow and prolonged.”

The blue-winged amazon is found in small flocks of less than 12 individuals. Pairs and their offspring have a tendency to remain together and are discernible in groups.

Like all members of the genus Amazona, this parrot is herbivore.

Its diet consists of seeds, fruits, flowers and leaves obtained in the tree canopy. It also consumes tender shoots of native trees and the pods of leguminous trees including uaxim (Leucaena glauca), bukut (Cassia grandis) and katsín (Acasia gaumeri).

“The blue-winged amazon has emerged quite recently, about 120,000 years ago, from within the white-fronted amazon (Amazona albifrons) population,” the authors said.

“During this time, the bird differentiated sufficiently to be clearly recognizable as a new species.”

Details of the parrot’s discovery are published in the journal PeerJ.

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T. Silva et al. 2017. A new parrot taxon from the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico — its position within genus Amazona based on morphology and molecular phylogeny. PeerJ 5: e3475; doi: 10.7717/peerj.3475



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