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Amidst the captivating topography of Dominica one can find a variety of different animals, yet the Nature Island is particularly renowned for its array of bird species. From the abundant high mountain terrain to the beachy shoreline, Dominica is home to 167 different species of bird. Of those, the most sought-after to witness are the parrots that roam the island—the Sisserou (Imperial) and the Jaco (Red Necked).
As the National Bird of Dominica, the Sisserou Parrot is dawned proudly on our country’s flag, but remains somewhat scarce in real life. For the most part, the protected northern parts of the island are home to this endangered species. For several years now, a breeding program has helped the population to recover, which has led to them spreading further south.
When looking for the endemic Sisserou Parrot, also known as the Imperial Parrot or Amazona imperialis, you want to look for its vibrant green back and wings with a red streak on the wing-tips. However, it’s not to be confused with the Jaco. When looking closely you’ll notice hues of red, blue, purple, and green throughout the bird’s chest and head making for a more dynamic plumage. The Sisserou Parrot typically weighs around two pounds and is about 18-20 inches long, which is larger than the Jaco.
When spotting a Sisserou, you most likely won’t be able to differentiate whether it is a male or female, as they have almost identical colors and markings. It is very common to see two together as these parrots are known to mate for life, living up to 70 years. Also, they are notably shy and, thus, difficult to approach.
Where to Find the Sisserou Parrot
As an endemic species, the only place in the world to find the Sisserou Parrot is Dominica. The best locale to spot our national bird is in the rainforest around the Morne Diablotins and Morne Trois Pitons National Park. While visiting, you can take a tour of the Syndicate Rainforest with Dr. Birdy, who can help spot these beautiful birds amongst many other natural wonders throughout the tour. Be sure to look way up as you will typically find them in higher elevations perching atop the trees.
If you’re looking to learn more about the preservation of these beautiful creatures, you can also visit The Parrot Research Centre located in the Botanic Gardens in Roseau.