Yellow, ‘albino’ Jaco Parrot photographed at Woodford Hill, early 2018. Photo by Nigel Harve

Dominicans, by and large, know and boast about our two species of Amazon parrots. Our National Bird, the Sisserou Parrot or Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis), has as its main colours green on the back and wings, a purple breast, red on the ‘shoulder’ of the wings, black on the back of the neck, a brown tail and orange on the sides of the face.

Our other species of parrot, the Red-necked Parrot (Amazona arausiaca) is locally known as Jaco/’Jako’, Parrot and ‘Pèwotjé sèt koulè’, a name which translates from Dominica’s Kwéyòl language to mean seven-coloured parrot. The Jaco’s main colours are a lighter shade of green than the Sisserou’s on the back, wings and breast, a light-blue face, a yellow tail, and one or two stripes of red on the neck – hence the common name, Red-necked Parrot. A few individual Jacos do not have any red on the neck, while still a few others have a small patch of yellow in between the red on the neck. (See photo at end of article.)

Some of us may have seen a Sisserou Parrot or a Jaco Parrot at Forestry, Wildlife & Parks exhibitions, in their natural habitat, or even in pictures on posters, carvings, souvenirs, etc, and got the opportunity to note the differences in the plumage (colour of the feathers) of the two species.

SISSEROU PARROT displaying its characteristic purple breast. Photo by A. James

A few years ago, we were informed by two tour guides who had visited the Syndicate Nature Trail in the Morne Diablotin National Park on separate occasions that an “albino parrot” had been sighted while along the trail. More recently, a PhD candidate who was studying the interaction between the parrots and humans also reported sighting an ‘albino’ parrot in the Brandy area east of Portsmouth. Initially we thought that the bird, or birds, that had been sighted was/were white in colour, but that may not have been the case.

Hurricane Maria, as we all know, hit our forest a devastating blow and as a result most forms of wildlife which depend upon the forest for their survival were under severe stress for several months after the storm. The forest canopy had been destroyed and the food sources of wildlife groups such as our birds became unavailable or extremely scarce for months, forcing several species to go into ‘survival mode’. For example, in their search for food, Jaco Parrots were reported feeding on toppled plantain that had begun to ripen, or even foraging under citrus trees in the fields.

Jacos were also reported feeding on the tiny seeds of a tree locally known as ‘Zing-zing’ (Leucaena leucocephala) in some populated areas such as Belfast and Morne Daniel.

In January 2018, one of the chauffeurs of the Forestry & Wildlife Division, Murphy Mondesire, who resides at Woodford Hill reported to the Division that his neighbours had reportedly seen “a yellow bird” near someone’s house in the village. Thereafter, a decision was taken at the Division to investigate the report as it not unusual for ‘strange’ species to appear in a country during or after a hurricane, as occurred with a White-crowned Pigeon (related to the ‘Rammier’ or Scaly-naped Pigeon) that arrived here in 2018 and spent several weeks in the Roseau area, being sighted and photographed on the edge of the Botanic Gardens and on High Street.

This WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON spent several weeks on a property at the edge of the Botanic Gardens; 21 March 2018. Photo by A. James

And so, on 19th January 2018 a three-man group from the Forestry, Wildlife & Parks Division set out to investigate the ‘yellow bird’ report and gather some information. The group comprised Assistant Forest Officer Stephen Durand – one of the most knowledgeable individuals on Dominica’s birdlife and a co-author of Dominica’s Birds, Forest Technician Nigel Harve and Murphy Mondesire. Destination: the village of Woodford Hill!

The ‘investigators’ did not have to travel to the Heights of Woodford Hill, but actually made their observations almost in the village centre. And there they confirmed the previous sightings made by the villagers.  Not only was the bird bright yellow in colour, but it was actually a Jaco Parrot! The blue on the face was faded to almost a light grey and the red on the neck was quite pale, almost a wash (Please refer to the first photo). The team also observed the bird feeding on the seeds of a Zing-zing tree. Placing a camera, then a cellphone against the eyepiece of a mounted telescope Durand, then Harve, were able to zoom in on the bird and its activities and also to get some very important photos and footage of this unusually coloured Jaco parrot.

JACO PARROT displaying typical coloration of the plumage. January 2018. Photo by A. James

Questions have been raised as to whether that Jaco was the same one sighted at Syndicate and Brandy. But importantly, it was photographed, and this may be the first set of photos and footage taken of an unusually coloured parrot on Dominica.

Please note that the dominant yellow colour of this Jaco parrot is the result of a mutation. Albino parrots do exist in nature, not necessarily here, but these birds are white in colour!

It should also be noted that another local authority on Dominica’s birdlife, Bertrand “Dr. Birdy” Jno. Baptiste who is also a co-author of Dominica’s Birds, earlier this year spotted another Jaco with unusual coloration, this one with yellow on both sides of the face and on the top of the head. Dr. Birdy also reported seeing the yellow Jaco at Syndicate earlier this year. So, keep your eyes open. You may never know what might be out there!

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  1. Fry it
    May 3, 2023

    I wonder how these birds would taste in some pure virgin olive oil, some garlic, onions, red pepper, a little salt and a hot mastiff bread. Dominicans are eating the common birds like sickiyey and toutwell and living these nice delicacies to strangers and bird poachers for their beautiful feathers. Man! One of these birds could make me a nice breakfast with a cup of cocoa tea. What’s good for the eyes is good for the stomach.

  2. Lin clown
    May 3, 2023

    Some of these people have reached the highest level of stupidity.The bird was indeed a yellow JACO 🦜 parrot.Jacka,have you heard about a JACO parrot in China?By now we all know IBO has admitted being a Jacka.There are hundreds of jaco and sisserou parrots in Dominica.For your information birds are coming into our paradise island Dominica,not leaving.The sisserou and yellow jaco parrots are in China.Where does China have the parrots in a zoo or in the wild?

  3. Show them what we got.
    May 3, 2023

    These birds are already in China. Soon they’ll be extinct. We have welcomed the world’s most counterfeit masters and thieves. These people are exporting many animal species from our country and bringing in black lizards to harm our plants. Our hunting season doesn’t apply to them. If a Chinese get caught hunting out of season the officer must try to keep his/her job by turning a blind eye. That’s Xi county.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6
    • Bwa-Banday
      May 3, 2023

      When Chou-moon-fan (something like that) was caught crabing last year out of season, not even the bag of crabs he had was taken from him. The officers were told by higher ups to explain to him that the season was closed but he pretended he could not understand English so they just told him boo-haw lah (not good) and let him go. Thats all one officer knew in Chinese :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: .

      That’s Xi’s country for real :twisted: :twisted:

  4. L C M
    May 2, 2023

    This is a cool story. What if that mutation is dominant? Is it possible we may see a new variation of the Jaco species evolve right before our very eyes. After all these birds have been here long before us and I bet there may have been genetic variations before. If that gene passes on through generations we may soon be seeing increased populations of a yellow Jaco. Nature has a tendency to drive variations in species for the main purpose of adaptation and survival.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0
  5. Birdwatcher
    May 2, 2023

    Sighted the yellow parrot in the Bourne area in the 80’s and 90’s and was reported to the Forestry division..

  6. Ibo France
    May 2, 2023

    These birds were once only found in Dominica. Now, Roosevelt’s LIES, have them deposited in Germany, and probably many more parts of the world.

    Bring back the national birds to their native home of abode, Roosevelt. What next are you going to sell, Morne Diablotins?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4
    • Dominican Bwoi
      May 3, 2023

      Don’t give him any ideas Ibo :lol:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
    • Alas
      May 3, 2023

      If you have run out of hatred comments why don’t you just stay quiet nuh. Your posts make no sense. You sound so ridiculous.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8
      • me
        May 3, 2023

        The truth is NOT the same as hatred stop your foolishness!!

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