Aviculture Questions & Answers

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“What species is this?”

Antoinette asks: “I am trying to find information on a Red-Speckled Amazon. Please let me know if there is even an Amazon that goes by this name.”

Howard Voren answers:

The common confusion concerning this name has its roots with the publication of PARROTS of the WORLD by Forshaw. He wanted his book to carry world wide appeal and there were “issues” concerning the common names of the same bird in different English speaking countries.

The problem was not the fact that the same bird would have a different common name in a different country but that the same common name was often applied to different birds.

That was the case with the “SPECTACLED” Amazon. (The name refers to “spectacles” as in eye glasses, not “speckles” as in spots of color.)

whitefrontedAmazona albifrons, a small Central American bird had been given the “trade name” “Spectacled Amazon” by bird importers in the USA. This referred to the outline of red feathers around the area of the eyes.

The problem was that Amazona pretrei, a rare and endangered South American Amazon had been going under the common name “Red-Spectacled Amazon” for several decades and was used among European aviculturists that specialized in the breeding of rare birds.

In order avoid confusion in his publication, he chose to give legitimacy to the name “Red-Spectacled Amazon” in relation to Amazona pretrei.

At the same time he called for Amazona albifrons to be more properly called the “White-fronted Amazon” which was in keeping with the meaning of its scientific name “albifrons” which means “white-front.”

To this day, there are still many people that call the White-fronted Amazon the Spectacled Amazon because that’s what they were told and that was acceptable many years ago. This is also very commonly mispronounced as “Speckled Amazon” which even further adds to the confusion.

So in short — In order to avoid confusion concerning the rare Amazon that European breeders were working with, Forshaw changed the name in his famous publication of the more commonly kept bird which added decades of confusion to something that nobody was previously confused about.