Lilac-crowned Parrot Amazona finschi

  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Katherine Renton


  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Lilac-crowned Parrot
eBird range map for Lilac-crowned Parrot

Generated from eBird observations (Year-Round, 1900-present)

Distribution in the Americas

The Lilac-crowned Parrot is endemic to the Pacific coast of Mexico (Forshaw 1989). Historically, its range extended from southeastern Sonora and southwestern Chihuahua to south to Oaxaca (Forshaw 1989, Howell and Webb 1995). The Lilac-crowned Parrot does not occur in the coastal region of Sinaloa and northern Nayarit, occurring mainly above 375 m in this part of its range (Forshaw 1989). However, the species’ distribution range reaches to the coast around San Blas in Nayarit, and the Lilac-crowned Parrot can be found at sea level along the coast from Jalisco to Oaxaca. The Lilac-crowned Parrot is most common in wooded foothills along the western Pacific slope from sea-level to 1,000 m (Renton and IƱigo-Elias 2003). However, Stager (1954) reported the Lilac-crowned Parrot from 884 m up to 1,920 m in Barranca del Cobre, Chihuahua, and the species has been recorded up to 1,530 m in Oaxaca (Forshaw 1989). The Lilac-crowned Parrot conducts seasonal, altitudinal migrations (Renton and Salinas-Melgoza 2002a); hence reports of the species at higher altitudes could represent part of these local migrations.

Distribution outside the Americas

Endemic to Mexico.


The Lilac-crowned Parrot is reported to occur in deciduous and semi-deciduous forests along the Pacific coast, as well as pine-oak forests (Forshaw 1989). However, nest studies demonstrate that Lilac-crowned Parrots require semi-deciduous forest as optimal breeding habitat (Renton and Salinas-Melgoza 1999), and local people also report that the species breeds preferentially in low-lying areas of semi-deciduous forest (Renton and Iñigo-Elias 2003). In addition, semi-deciduous forest provides key food resources for Lilac-crowned Parrots during the dry season (Renton 2001). However, semi-deciduous forest now covers only 5,106 km2 in the distribution range of the Lilac-crowned Parrot (SARH 1994, Renton and Iñigo-Elias 2003).

Tropical dry forest during the 4-5 month rainy season when Lilac-crowned Parrots forage in the seasonal deciduous forest on the hills. Photo © Katherine RentonDuring the 6-8 month dry season, most of the trees drop their leaves. Photo © Katherine Renton

Nevertheless, spatio-temporal fluctuations in food resource availability throughout the year mean that parrots alter habitat use in order to track food resources (Renton 2001). In seasonally dry forests along the coast, Lilac-crowned Parrots forage mainly in semi-deciduous forest during the dry season, where most food resources are available (Renton 2001). However in the rainy season, parrots forage predominantly in deciduous forest on the hills, corresponding with the seasonal peak in food resource availability in this habitat (Renton 2001). These fluctuations in food resource availability mean that Lilac-crowned Parrots may travel over wide spatial areas in search of food resources throughout the year, and make seasonal altitudinal migrations from drier deciduous forest along the coast to more humid semi-deciduous forest at 600-1,000 m (Renton and Salinas-Melgoza 2002a).Narrow bands of taller, greener semi-deciduous forest along valleys and stream-beds provide essential foraging and nesting habitat for Lilac-crowned Parrots in the dry season. Photo © Katherine Renton

In addition to nesting and foraging habitat, Lilac-crowned Parrots also require secure areas where they gather in communal roosts each night. Radiotelemetry studies have identified Lilac-crowned Parrot roost-sites on the top of ridge plateaus or near the summit of tall hills (Renton and Salinas-Melgoza 2002a). These areas may be preferred as roosting sites due to the high visibility which would aid in the detection of approaching predators. Added to which, the characteristic deciduous vegetation on these plateaus, with shorter trees of a smaller trunk diameter, may impede access by predators.

Lilac-crowned Parrots also demonstrate a preference for conserved forest habitat, being less frequently encountered in disturbed habitat (Renton and Iñigo-Elias 2003). Radiotelemetry studies indicate that Lilac-crowned Parrots prefer conserved semi-deciduous forest, and avoid human modified areas (Salinas-Melgoza 2003).

Historical changes

Historic reports from the 1940s – 1960s considered the Lilac-crowned Parrot to be a common species throughout most of its range (Van Rossem 1945, Stager 1954, Schaldach 1963). Van Rossem (1945) considered the species common in the foothills of south-eastern Sonora, though localized to specific areas. The species was also considered common in Barranca de Cobre, Chihuahua (Stager 1954) and Colima (Schaldach 1963), though was considered infrequent in San Blas, Nayarit (Forshaw 1989). In 1975, the Lilac-crowned Parrot was assessed as common through most of its range, though sometimes localized, and it was noted that increased trade in the species was likely to impact wild populations (Ridgely 1981). By the late 1980s the Lilac-crowned Parrot was considered rare or uncommon in Oaxaca (Binford 1989, Forshaw 1989), and was one of the most heavily traded species of psittacines in Mexico (Iñigo-Elias and Ramos 1991).

A recent population evaluation conducted in Mexico in 2002 found that the Lilac-crowned Parrot 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 (Renton and Iñigo-Elías 2003, CITES 2004). The species is most common in the States of Jalisco, Michoacán and Sinaloa, but relatively uncommon in the rest of its range (Renton and Iñigo-Elias 2003). Furthermore, in 339 interviews conducted with local residents throughout the species’ range, 91% of people interviewed reported that wild populations of Lilac-crowned Parrots had declined in their region (Renton and Iñigo-Elias 2003). Based on historic reports and recent surveys, as well as knowledge of local residents, all indications are that populations of the Lilac-crowned Parrot are declining in the wild. Added to which, GARP model analysis estimates that the Lilac-crowned Parrot has suffered a reduction of 20% of its original distribution range as a result of habitat loss (Ríos Muñoz 2002).

Fossil history

No information.

Recommended Citation

Renton, K. (2009). Lilac-crowned Parrot (Amazona finschi), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.