White-fronted Amazons... a Guide to the Three Subspecies



When most bird lovers think of an amazon, a picture comes to mind of a large greenish parrot. Of the 29 species in the genus Amazona, most are large greenish parrots. adorned with bright patches of white, yellow, blue, and red.

One of the smaller species, the White-fronted Amazon Amazona a. albifrons. and the two subspecies A. a. nana and A. a. saltuensis. are the subject of this article At 26 cm (10.4 inches), this diminutive amazon is also known as the Spectacled Amazon, and A. a. saltuensis is called the Sonora White-fronted Amazon.

Ornithological Notes

Originating from Mexico through Guatemala down to western Costa Rica, the White-fronted Amazon is a common species that inhabits arid areas up to an altitude of 1800 meters. Generally, they are quiet and unobtrusive when feeding in the treetops, and are fairly tame when feeding, often allowing close approaches.

As is common among many parrots, they are noisy when flying to and from roosting and feeding sites. Their flight is shallow, with the wings not rising above shoulder level, and they continually veer in flight, similar to Aratinga conures.

Their natural food is comprised of seeds, berries, and fruit, nuts, blossoms, and leaf buds. They are known to cause problems in certain crop-growing areas.

Nesting takes place in holes in trees with 2-4 white eggs forming a normal clutch.


Amazona a. albifrons

This is the nominate race which is distributed mainly along the Pacific coast from Nayarit, central-western Mexico, south to south-western Guatemala. The main picture in the centerspread illustrates both male and female.

A. a. nana

This race differs in that it is smaller than the nominate albifrons. In Parrots of the World, Forshaw believes A a. nana to be a poorly defined subspecies. It is the smallest of the amazons. The blue on the crown appears not to be as


bright as in the nominate race. A male and female are shown in photograph number 2 in the centerspread

According to Forshaw, this subspecies ranges from extreme southwestern Vera Cruz and northeastern Chiapas, southern Mexico, south to northwestern Costa Rica.




Forshaw, j. M. Parrots of the World Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, Australia, 1973

Howard, Richard & Moore, Alick. A Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World (Second Edition) Academic Press, London, 1991 ~