Parrots are vocal learners and many species of parrots are capable of learning new calls, even as adults. This capability gives parrots the potential to develop communication systems that can vary dramatically over space. St. Lucia Parrot (Amazona versicolor) flight vocalizations were examined for geographic variation between four different sites on the island of St. Lucia. Spectrographic cross-correlation analysis of a commonly used flight vocalization, the p-chow call, demonstrated quantitative differences between sites. Additionally, the similarity of p-chows decreased as the distance between sites increased. Flight call repertoires also differed among sites; parrots at the Des Bottes and Quilesse sites each used one flight call unique to those sites, while parrots at the Barre de L'Isle site used a flight call that Quilesse parrots gave only while perched. It is unclear whether the vocal variation changed clinally with distance, or whether there were discrete dialect boundaries as in a congener, the Yellow-naped Parrot (Amazona auropalliata, Wright 1996). The geographical scale over which the St. Lucia Parrot's vocal variation occurred was dramatically smaller than that of the Yellow-naped Parrot. Similar patterns of fine-scale vocal variation may be more widespread among other parrot species in the Caribbean than previously documented.
Additional publication details
Geographical variation of St. Lucia Parrot flight vocalizations