Amazona ventralis Island of Hispanolia (Dominican Republic and Haiti)
Also known as the Hispaniolan parrot.
Hispaniolan amazons are medium sized, stocky, green amazons with white foreheads and eye-rings. They have dark ear-coverts, maroon belly patches and pinkish-horn beaks. Primary flight feathers and wing coverts are blue and the tails feathers are green with red at the base.
Found on island of Hispaniola in pine forest, palm groves and upland mountain evergreen forests. Found in pairs and small flocks. They nest in tree cavities and rock cavities and feed on tree seeds, figs, seeds of wild oranges, citrus, maize and bananas.
Length is 9 to 10 inches. Weight is 250-350 grams Males are generally larger than females and have larger heads and beaks. Eyes of adults and juveniles are brown. Juveniles have less maroon on the belly and less blur on the crown.
Hispaniolan amazons can probably live up to 50-60 years judging by life span of similar species. Little is known about their life span in captivity.
Personality - Hispaniolan amazons are intelligent, inquisitive birds with excellent speaking ability. Mature birds, especially males become aggressive. Due to their relative rarity in captivity, they are unlikely to be available for pets. They are active by nature and have a tendency toward obesity if closely confined.
Activities – Hispaniolan amazons should always be provided with toys, blocks of wood or branches that they can chew. In order to ensure safety companion amazons should not be allowed unsupervised freedom in the home as they often encounter toxins or dangerous items. Young amazons should be socialized to many people and exposed to a variety of situations such as new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends, wing and nail clips, etc. to avoid fear of novel situations. They need to have some space for exercise.
Dietary needs - Amazons should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded diet) as a basis for good nutrition. Kaytee Exact is an excellent staple diet for amazons. Weight should be monitored and overweight birds should be fed a restricted diet to prevent obesity. The diet should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Feed approximately ¼ cup of Kaytee Exact and 1/4 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Monitor food intake. Overfeeding leads to pickiness, selective feeding and wasteful throwing of food. Because of their tendency to obesity, Hispaniolan Amazons should be fed no sunflower or safflower seeds or seeds should only be given as treats. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet.
Birds, which are fed only seeds, will need vitamin and mineral supplementation to prevent deficiency diseases. Preferably vitamins should be added to soft food rather than putting in the water as this dilutes the vitamins, water soluble vitamins break down rapidly and water with sweetened and vitamins is a good growth medium for bacteria. Vitamin added to the outside of seeds is usually lost when the bird shells the seeds.
Grooming - Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or gently dried with a blow drier. Care should be taken not to clip the wing feathers excessively as amazons often fall and injure themselves. Clip only the primary flight feathers and only enough so the bird will glide to the floor. Hispaniolan are heavy bodies and care must be taken not to cut too many feathers. Excessive wing clipping can result in injuries from falling.
Identification - All companion and breeding birds should be individually identified to assist in recovery if lost and assist in maintenance of medical and genealogical records. Many breeders apply closed legs bands when chicks are young. While they present a slight risk of entrapment closed bands are preferable to no identification, especially for breeding birds. Microchips, which can be implanted into the muscle or under the skin, are a reliable means of identification but require electronic readers to verify identification. Tattoos may be used but often fade or become illegible with time. Footprints may have some application in identification.
Sexing Hispaniolan amazons are zoomorphic (no visual difference between sexes) however males tend to have a little more white on the crown. Surgical sexing or DNA sexing must confirm sex of breeders.
Housing - Hispaniolan amazons are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allows. They should also be supplied with a retreat to guard against insecurity and fear responses. Ideally the cage should provide room for flight. Durable cage construction is not as critical as it is for macaws and cockatoos. Locks or escape proof latches may be necessary on cages. Ideally the bird will have an outdoor cage as well to allow playtime in the fresh-air and sunlight.
Breeding – Hispaniolan amazons are difficult to breed in captivity. In North America Hispaniolan amazons breed predominantly in the spring and have a limited breeding season typically from February or March to June or July. Clutch size is typically 3 to 4 eggs. One inch by one inch by 14 gauge welded wire, or 1” X ½ “ welded wire is a good choice for cage construction. A suggested size is 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall by 8 feet long suspended 4 feet above the ground or floor.
Nest Box - Double entrance boxes may be used to reduce the chance of the male trapping the female in the box. Grandfather style wooden boxes can be used. Size should be approximately 12” x 12” x 24”.
Incubation period is approximately 24-26 days. Chicks will usually fledge at approximately 10 to 12 weeks of age. Hispaniolan amazons are relatively easy to hand-rear. Most hand rearing formulas can be used successfully. Kaytee Exact regular or Macaw hand rearing formulas are good choices.
Aggression Male Hispaniolan amazons frequently become aggressive toward their mates. Cage construction and management should take into consideration techniques to reduce mate aggression. Clipping the wings of the male prior to the breeding season will help the female to escape in case the male becomes aggressive. Aggression often occurs at the time of human visitation and may also be directed toward keeper.
Hispaniolan amazons are noisy especially when in breeding condition. When breeding amazons, noise and proximity to neighbors must be considered.
Common diseases and disorders
- Poor eating habits
- Bacterial and fungal infections
- Mate aggression
- Toxicity, ingestion of metals
Conservation Status - Near Threatened - Hispaniolan Amazons are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Their populations are declining due to drastic habitat destruction in recent years, and capture for export and use for pets locally. They are vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes. Hispaniolan amazons are uncommon in the United States and difficult to breed.