A subspecies of the Cuban Amazon Parrot, the Bahama Parrot (also known as the Abaco Parrot) is 12-13 inches in length when full grown, and its white head and mostly green body make it easily recognizable. In fact, the Bahama Parrot's scientific name (Amazona lecocephala bahamensis) literally means, 'white-headed Amazon parrot from The Bahamas.' It has patches of red feathers on its cheek, throat and sometimes its abdomen; its flight feathers, usually hidden from sight when it is perched in a tree, are a beautiful cobalt blue. Another distinctive feature of the Bahama Parrot: it has two toes facing forwards and two facing backwards, a configuration known as zygodactylism.
The parrots once lived on as many as seven islands in The Bahamas, but now can mainly be found only on two islands. In the pine forests of The Abacos, they feed on the seeds from the pine trees during the breeding season, and they nest in limestone cavities on the ground of the pine forest. On Great Inagua, you'll find some in the Inagua National Park. They are known to be the only species of parrots throughout the islands of the Caribbean that nests in the ground. This works against them, though, because they become vulnerable to predators like wild cats, wild boars, crabs and snakes, plus heavy rains during their nesting period can flood parrot nest holes, killing young chicks. It is said that Columbus was so struck by their numbers when he made landfall in The Bahamas in 1492, he wrote in his log, "Flocks of parrots darken the sun." The Bahama Parrot was recognized as the official mascot of the 500th Anniversary of Columbus' Landfall in the New World in 1992. Bones of Bahama Parrots found on New Providence have been dated back to the Pleistocene Era, more than 50,000 years ago.
The Bahamas National Trust reports that there are now less than 3,000 Bahama parrots remaining in The Bahamas. These birds are protected under the Wild Bird (Protection) Act and it is illegal to harm, capture, or offer these birds for sale. Stringent rules and regulations are enforced in the event that anyone tries to harm the parrots. The Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) list the Bahama parrot in Appendix I, meaning that it is a species that is near extinction or very endangered.