White-fronted Amazon

(Amazona albifrons)

Painting by J.M. Forshaw


White-fronted Amazons are distinctly smaller than the sympatric Yellow-napes, but also significantly larger than Conures or Parakeets. The white patch on the forehead and the red around the eyes are easy markers. This is the only sexually dimorphic parrot in the SSR: males have a distinctive red leading edge of the wing that can be seen either perched or from underneath when in flight. Females lack this red strip on the wing. Males also have noticeably more coloration on the head, with a blue crown patch and more red around the eyes than females.



Like the other three resident SSR parrots, this species is a regular member of seasonal dry forest communities and ranges from north-western Mexico to Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, it is found only on the Pacific side of the Cordillera.

Natural History:

Diet: The diet of White-fronted Amazons overlaps to a certain degree with the larger Yellow-naped Amazons and the smaller Orange-fronted Conures. They also eat a number of additional fruits and seeds not eaten by the two other species. This breadth of diet surely helps account for their broad range and high population densities:

Cochlospermum vitifolium seeds
Albizzia adinocephala seeds
Hippocratea volubulis seeds
Muntingia calabura fruits
Spondias purpurea seeds
Nancite (Byrsonima crassifolia) fruit
Cordia guancastensis seeds & pericarp
Inga spp. seeds


Night Roosts: Like Conures and Parakeets, White-fronted Amazons shift the locations of their communal night roosts at irregular intervals. Typical longevity for roosts in the SSR is 3-5 weeks. Oak patches are a favorite sleeping site for this species. Like the other small resident parrots in the SSR, White-fronts begin staging in late afternoon. Birds already at the staging area are highly vocal and these calls appear to attract overflying conspecifics. Like the smaller sympatric species, and unlike the larger Yellow-napes, White-fronts do not sleep exposed on bare branches but instead nestle under the foliage of their sleeping trees. Night roosts often harbor a hundred or more birds. White-fronts typically awaken and move out of the foliage and into more exposed trees about 5:20 AM. They often sit and vocalize loudly for 10-30 minutes before foraging groups of 4-20 birds begin dispersing in all directions.


Nesting: Like the larger congener, White-fronted Amazons nest in natural cavities of trees, old woodpecker holes, and palms with rotten cores. They may enlarge these holes with some excavation. As with the other sympatric parrots, breeding occurs in the dry season. The female incubates the eggs, and both members of the pair feed the offspring. Adults appear to bring fledglings into the large social flocks and night roost aggregations early as begging offspring can be seen and heard within these larger flocks in late dry season and early rainy season.


Predators: White-fronted Amazons are presumably potential prey for some of the larger sympatric hawks. Both adults and nestlings are vulnerable to nest hole predators such as capuchin monkeys, snakes, coatis, and lizards when in the nesting cavities. There is some poaching of nestlings by humans for the pet trade, but this species is much less popular as a pet than the larger Yellow-naped Amazon, probaly due to its strident call and relatively poorer mimicry abilities.


Flock Structure: The high sociality of this species is in stark contrast to the relatively asocial pairs of sympatric Yellow-naped Amazons. While one does encounter single pairs, most White-fronted Amazons forage, play, stage, and sleep in large flocks.These birds appear to experience the same high levels of fission/fusion by groups seen in sympatric Conures and Parakeets.They are exceedingly vocal and the continuous joining and separating of groups is always accompanied by a cacophony of calling.


Vocalizations (Click on underlined terms to hear call):

Loud Contact Call: The loud contact call of this species is a loud "ack-ack" or "ack-ack-ack" given only in flight. Although there is considerable variation in the number and tempo of the "ack" elements, no dialects are yet known as in the contact calls of Yellow-naped Amazons.

Alarm Call: The "peow" call of White-fronted Amazons appears to be a general alarm call. As a result, this the call an observer is likely to hear as they approach a roosting or foraging flock. If the disturbance does not abate, peows are likely to change into the preflight call (below).

Preflight Call: This call is given in rapid succession when multiple members of a flock signal that they are about to take flight. It often grades continuously into the loud contact call at about the moment that the flock takes off.


Warbles: During early morning sorting out into foraging groups, playtime, and late afternoon staging, White-fronts produce a dazzling variety of soft, musical, and modulated notes. These appear to have the same general function as warbling in the other species.



Where to Find Them in SSR/ACG:

This species is ubiquitous throughout the SSR and the ACG. It is difficult in fact to find any site in the Park where one can escape the squeals and squawks of nearby White-fronted Amazons. In early rainy season, White-fronts will often stage and night roost in patches of oaks along the eastern side of the Pan American highway between the Pocosol and Quebrada Puercos. They also use the woods along the creek by the farm house just opposite the intersection of the Park Road and the Pan American highway.



Forshaw, J. M. 1989. Parrots of the World. London: Blandford.

Juniper, T. and M. Parr (1998). Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Levinson, S. T. 1980. The social behavior of the white-fronted amazon (Amazona albifrons). pp. 403-417 in, Conservation of New World Parrots. R. F. Pasquier, ed. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Skeate, S. T. 1984. Courtship and reproductive behavior of captive white-fronted amazon parrots Amazona albifrons. Bird Behavior 5: 103-109.

Stiles, F. G. and A. Skutch. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Ithaca, NY: Comstock Publishing Associates.