Amazon parrots (Amazona sp.) originate from Mexico, Central America, South America and the adjacent islands of the West Indies. There are numerous species of Amazon parrots. They are a stocky, medium sized bird with a strong beak and short, rounded, blunt tail. The majority have a basic green body colour, though some of the rarer species are brown.
These birds can be very personable and interactive. They are generally very affectionate and will often persistently solicit petting and head scratches, however, they are also given to moodiness. Widely recognised for its extraordinary ability to mimic, some amazons develop extensive vocabularies of words, song, verse, whistles, sneezing, coughing and electronic sounds such as telephones and microwave oven beeps. Some are prone to loud squawking especially in the early morning and late afternoon. They are very playful and enjoy climbing and chewing. Providing non-toxic, washed, fresh branches and pet-safe toys will afford many hours of entertainment and exercise for this inquisitive pet.
These handsome, good natured birds make excellent companions and family pets. Some commonly kept Amazon parrots include the Yellow-naped Amazon, Double Yellow-headed Amazon, Blue-fronted Amazon, Red-lored Amazon, Lilac-crowned Amazon, Orange-winged Amazon and Cuban Amazon.
Amazons are becoming a more popular pet in Australia and New Zealand, now that the numbers are not as limited as previously. They can be aggressive and noisy pets, but they do respond well to behavioural modification to eliminate undesirable behaviours. There is a wide range in temperaments and speaking ability among this group. Spend some time observing potential pets and choose a bird that is inclined to be vocal if you wish to have a speaker. Take care, because good talkers can be generally noisy by nature - it is unlikely you will have one without the other.
Traits of the common species available in Australia and New Zealand are covered below:
Yellow-naped Amazon: this is a medium to large sized bird that usually speaks well and is very social, interacting well with others in their environment. They have a short attention span, so you need a great deal of patience and perseverance to train them. For some of these birds, it can be difficult to separate aggressive behaviour from enthusiastic playfulness. If they are not trained well from an early age, they will develop into poorly socialised birds that may become screamers and aggressive when they approach puberty. They should never be left alone with small children.
Double Yellow-headed Amazon: Spend some time observing potential pets. Choose a bird that appears to be docile and avoid shy or nervous birds, as these birds tend to display extremes of behaviour (i.e. they are either docile and sweet or aggressive and unpredictable). Chhose carefully as it is much more challenging to modify undesirable behaviour once it is established. As a group these birds are much quieter than Yelow-naped Amazons.
Blue-fronted Amazons: These are the most commonly available pet Amazon parrot in Australia and New Zealand. They are intelligent birds that enjoy interacting with their owners. If they are handled and raised correctly they make an exceptional pet. One note of warning is tot expect they may develop a tendency for aggression when they approach puberty or at the beginning of each breeding season.
"These are the most commonly available pet Amazon parrot in Australia and New Zealand. They are intelligent birds that enjoy interacting with their owners."
Red-lored Amazon: These are popular Amazons because they nearly all are good talkers and seem more interested in interacting vocally with their owners. They seem to have a much gentler nature than the other Amazons and when undesirable behaviours do develop, they are not as intense or severe and are more responsive to behaviour modification to return them to normal behaviour.
Lilac-crowned Amazon: Most of these birds have an extremely friendly and docile nature. Many owners describe these birds as the most easy-going of the Amazons. They possess a medium c=ability a stalkers. If you need a pet Amazon parrot for a family with young children, this is probably the best choice. Introduce the bird as a young, hand-reared bird so it can grow and develop with the children.
Orange-winged Amazon: These birds are popular for the quiet and docile nature that most of them possess. As with most parrots they are a challenge as they approach (and during) puberty, but they will settle down to be an excellent pet if you have patience and perseverance. Many like to talk but they do not speak as clearly as some of the other Amazons.
Cuban Amazon: These are one of the smallest Amazon parrots, They possess a mellow temperament and tend to be quieter than other Amazons.
Purchasing an Amazon Parrot
Amazons may be purchased from a pet shop or, better, a reputable breeder. When selecting a parent-reared Amazon, try to choose a young bird as it may be easier to tame and train. Older, wild, colony or parent raised birds may prove difficult to tame. Hand raised babies often make better pets since they have been completely socialised with humans however this process may adversely affect behavioural development predisposing to overbonding and feather destructive disorders. It is possible now to obtain birds that have been parent-reared until they are due to exit the nest (thus entering an important socialization phase), then hand-reared to weaning. Importantly having a captive-bred bird means that the wild bird population is not threatened further by catching and importing wild birds. This practice is bad both for the bird captured and transported as well as for the dwindling population left in the wild. Your new bird should be exposed early to different events (young and old people, males and females, other pets, car trips, visits to the veterinarian, etc.) to help promote a calm, well-adjusted pet. The lively, alert bird that is not easily frightened is more likely a healthy bird. After purchasing your new bird, have it examined by your veterinarian.
Amazon parrots require regular, routine veterinary health check ups. Once or twice a year is recommended. Your veterinarian can perform a physical examination, grooming (beak or nail trim) and laboratory tests as needed. During these check-ups, health, nutritional and maintenance issues can be identified and addressed. Veterinary check-ups help prevent disease and will aid in the maintenance of a long lasting, healthy relationship between you and your bird.
- green is the predominant body colour with red, orange, yellow, white and blue adorning the head, wings and tail differently amongst the various species.
- somewhat less colourful
Sexing - no external sex differences
Weight - average 300 - 600 grams (10 - 20 ounces) depending on species
Size - average 25-45 cm (10-20 ins) in length depending on species
Life span - 25-40 years (maximum 75 years)
Diet - consult your veterinarian or see the diet sheet in this series. They are very prone to Vitamin A deficiency, obesity and fatty liver problems so diet and exercise need to addressed in these species
Breeding - sexual maturity at 3-6 years
- a large environment is needed to breed this challenging bird
Brood size - 2-7 eggs hatch in 17-31 days, young leave the nest in 4 - 8 weeks
Cage - minimum 60 cm x 90 cm x 120 cm (2 ft x 3 ft x 4 ft) depends on the size of the bird (the bird must be able to fully extend its wings in all directions)
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