Ambergris Caye Parrots
Peterson identifies Ambergrisís Parrot as "Aratinga Astec", (olive-throated) parakeet.
On Ambergris flocks can be seen traveling in the morning, to areas of ripe Almond trees and returning to roosts in afternoon. Flocks are usually 10 to 15 on Ambergris and Iím taking a wild guess of two flocks from my observations, however I wouldnít discount the roost isnít always on the Caye some may just visit for the day to enjoy current fruit ripening events. This morning May 26th a flock in Ambergris Caye Area # 19 http://belizebirdblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/ambergriscaye-sightings-map.html
eating red berries from a tree I havenít identified. They seem to have keen eye sight and very much unlike other birds will fly away at the sight of humans from a distance. I hide to get a look and often when Iím peering through some brush I see looking back at me a cautious stare, at what looks like, into my binocular lens. What Iím suggesting is that you hide and sneak to get an observation, The Birds almost always feed and perch in the tops of trees making a view difficult. Observation area #18 June 2006.
The family of Psittacidae contains about 330 species classified into approximately 60 genra and six to eight subfamilies, which some zoologists consider should be regarded as a separate family. The name "parakeet" is a division of many opinions, and it is very possible parrots and parakeets are separate families however my opinion runs with Peterson as the name implies they are just small Parrots. Soon some new DNA scientist will prove us right or wrong.
All Psittaciformes have zygodactyl feet as do woodpeckers, but use them with more dexterity.
All Psittacidae like to eat fruit and nuts so they are said to be, "frugivorous". And Ambergrisís also enjoy Palmetto berries. Almond Trees are abundant on Ambergris and seem a big attraction. The Blue-Green color of the Aztec seems to make for excellent camouflage against its leaves. They are quiet while eating unless a warning squawk is necessary.
They nest in holes in trees that they discovered, not made by themselves. Abandoned woodpecker holes in coconut trees seem to be preferred on Ambergris.
Identifying the Aztec parakeet may be difficult at first. Fast flying flocks passing between you and the late afternoon sun are almost impossible to identify by sight, but voice identification is useful.
As they fly, members of the flock make a raucous scream of "krrieh krrie krreach", randomly and without chorus. Some assumption can be made by knowing which species shrieking squawks. Another assumption of mine is they are traveling to the roost in the afternoon and away from it in the mornings. This seems to indicate to me roosts are on the south end or south is the route to the mainland roost. Water being in short supply in May and June before the rainy seasons starts cause many birds to be seen where they are not normally, due to the quest for water as well as ripening berries, Birds like the Aztec Parakeet rarely visit the ground and prefer to get water from plants. The banana tree holds a little drink in its head as do many jungle and littoral forests flora. Hate is an emotion Parrots are noted for. This from a Darwinian angle has a purpose. The purpose I believe is Solidarity of the flock in defense of outsiders. Most parrot pet owners will verify this for you, some thing will be noted as an object of its hate such as dogs, men or red heads.
Helping the Aztec Parrots of Ambergris survive and live with us in this changing environment will depend partially on our planting replacement trees and shrubbery that are food sources, however in the case of the shy and illusive Ambergris Aztec Parrot privacy from an area undeveloped will be the key to having a rookery.