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Lilac-crowned Parrot
Amazona finschi (Sclater 1864)

Also known as: Lilac-crowned Amazon

The Lilac-crowned Parrot is resident to western Mexico from southeastern Sonora to southern Oaxaca; criteria for separation in the field from the Red-crowned Parrot are given by Howell and Webb (1995) and Garrett (1995). Briefly, the Lilac-crowned has the red of the head restricted to a band of dull maroon across the forehead and has an extensive wash of lilac through the crown; the Red-crowned shows a bright red forehead and forecrowns (extending in males to the center of the crown) and variable blue which is usually restricted to the sides of the crown. The cere of the Lilac-crowned is dusky or dark gray but pinkish-flesh in the Red-crowned. At rest and in flight the Lilac-crowned is noticeably longer-tailed. Finally, although many vocalizations of these two species are similar (and even appropriated from one another?), the distinctive squeaky upslurred whistle of the Lilac-crowned differs from the typical downslurred whistle of the Red-crowned. Hardy (1973) did not mention this species for Southern California, but Froke (1981) recorded a minimum of 22 individuals in the San Gabriel Valley from 1976 to 1978, with nesting evidence. (Garrett 1997)

This species has increased in the San Gabriel Valley due to breeding activity. Also, observers are learning to better distinguish it from the similar-looking Red-crowned Parrot. In Orange County, the current reported population number is higher than reported by Garrett (1997), largely due to increased scrutiny of the local parrot investigator. (Mabb 2002)

Distribution in California: Similar to Red-crowned Parrot but considerably less numerous; mainly in the San Gabriel Valley, Los Angeles and Orange Counties (Garrett 1998). Have also been sighted in Riverside County (Bowles/Erickson 2006, pers. obs.) and a small population documented in Santa Barbara County (Linden 2006, pers. obs.).

Habitat in California: Residential and suburban areas; sometimes in native oaks, and has nested in native coniferous forest in the San Gabriel Mountains (Garrett 1997).

Other Naturalized Locations: None noted.

Click an image below to view at a larger scale.

Lilac-crowned Parrot (Amazona finschi)
Photos this page © Bowles/Erickson |

Native Range and Habitat: Endemic to the Pacific coast of Mexico. Historically, its range extended from southern Sonora and southwest Chihuahua to Oaxaca. The species has been practically extirpated from Oaxaca, as well as parts of Nayarit, Jalisco, Durango, Colima and Michoacán, and has undergone significant population declines in many areas of its original range. The species is most abundant in the states of Jalisco, Michoacán and Sinaloa.

Deciduous and semi-deciduous forests along the coast, as well as pine-oak forests. (BirdLife International)

Status: Vulnerable (2006) -- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. CITES Appendix I. This species has a small population which is declining rapidly owing to exploitation and habitat loss. Consequently it qualifies as Vulnerable. Species has undergone significant population declines and has disappeared from 37% of the localities where it was historically recorded. The estimated remaining population is 7,000 - 10,000. (BirdLife International 2006)

Citation: BirdLife International 2004. Amazona finschi . In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. < >. Downloaded on 18 January 2007.

For more information including a native range map, visit the Lilac-crowned Amazon - BirdLife Species Factsheet published by BirdLife International.

Description: Green overall, paler on breast and abdomen; forehead, front of crown and lores burgundy/reddish-brown; back of crown, sides of neck and nape lilac; eye-ring dark, cheeks and ear-coverts greenish-yellow; secondaries blue with red wing-speculum on first five feathers; tail with greenish-yellow tips; outer webs to base of outer tail feathers blue; beak yellowish-horn color; iris orange; feet grey. Immatures with duller plumage; iris dark.

Average Length: 13 inches

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In affiliation with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and
in cooperation with the Pasadena Audubon Society

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