Speckled? Spectacled? or White-Fronted Amazon?

© Howard Voren. Click here to use this content.

Q: I am trying to find information on a Red-Speckled Amazon. I am in the midst of trying to adopt a male from someone but I think he may be mistaken on what he actually has due to the fact that I can’t find any information on
this species whatsoever. Please let me know if there is even an Amazon that
goes by this name.

A: 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. (a name that refers to spectacles as in “eye glasses”, not speckles as in spots of color)
Amazona 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 decided that Amazona albifrons be more properly referred to as the “White-fronted Amazon” which was in keeping with the meaning of it’s 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 here in the USA to something that nobody was previously confused about.