Newly-discovered parrot species declared endangered

Undated handout photo issued by PeerJ of a female blue-winged Amazon parrot.
Undated handout photo issued by PeerJ of a female blue-winged Amazon parrot.

A parrot newly discovered in Mexico already faces extinction because of threats to its habitat, scientists have said.

The blue-winged Amazon was spotted by a travelling ornithologist in a remote region of the Yucatan peninsular in 2014.

Undated handout photo issued by PeerJ of a female blue-winged Amazon parrot.

Undated handout photo issued by PeerJ of a female blue-winged Amazon parrot.

Experts writing in the journal PeerJ have now confirmed it is a previously undescribed species with a unique plumage colour and pattern and distinctive call.

They also warned that, confined to a small area of unprotected forest, it is in grave danger.

The team led by Tony Silva from the University of Florida, US, wrote: "This parrot is confined to a small area and no parts of its range are currently protected. Because of this precarious status, the Mexican wildlife authorities are urged to regard it as ''Especie en Peligro de Extincion'' (species in danger of extinction)."

The blue-winged Amazon is about 25cm long and weighs 200 grams. Mostly green in colour, it has striking blue flight feathers and a patch of red above the beak.

In flight, it produces a loud, short and repetitive yak-yak-yak call which becomes more mellow and prolonged when the bird is perched.

The species lives in small flocks of fewer than 12 individuals feeding on a diet of forest seeds, fruits, flowers and leaves.

DNA analysis shows the bird evolved from the white-fronted parrot no more than about 120,000 years ago.

The blue-winged Amazon was identified by Mexican ornithologist Dr Miguel Gomez Garza, from the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, during an expedition to Yucatan.

He recognised it had a completely different colour pattern from other known species in the area.

The bird was given the Latin name Amazona gomezgarzai in his honour.