The term Amazon Parrot doesn’t refer to one specific bird. In fact, there are around 30 species in the Amazona genus. Only around 10 of these are common as domestic pets. Amazon parrots are medium to large birds with popular, playful personalities. With the right care and enrichment, these birds can live for well over 30 years, making wonderful companions. But, it’s important that potential owners learn everything they can about Amazon parrot care, to prevent any stress or fear behaviors, like feather plucking.
Amazon Parrot History and Origins
Amazon parrots originate in the Americas. The various species can be found in South America, but also as far as Mexico and the Caribbean. Because of this large range of original habitats, the wild environment that Amazon parrots live in can be quite varied. It can include rainforests, savannahs, palm groves, and more.
As Amazon parrots became popular domestic pets, their numbers in the wild have dwindled. Poaching has also contributed to this. Capturing these wild birds for pets has since become illegal, so it’s important to ensure you’re getting an Amazon parrot through legal, reputable sources if you choose this bird as a pet.
Types of Amazon Parrot
Here are some of the most common Amazon parrot species seen as domestic pets:
- Blue Fronted Amazon Parrots
- Yellow Naped Amazon Parrots
- Double Yellow Headed Amazons
- Panama Amazons
- Red Lored Amazon Parrots
- Lilac Crowned Amazon Parrots
- Southern Mealy Amazon Parrots
- Orange Winged Amazons
- White Fronted Amazon Parrots
- Green Cheeked Amazon Parrots
Amazon Parrot Personality
The exact temperament of each Amazon parrot species will vary slightly. However, most people love these birds because they are social, talkative, and playful. Many of these birds are able to mimic human speech, so you might even be able to teach yours certain phrases.
It’s important to understand too, that a domestic Amazon parrot’s temperament and mood can be affected by their environment. For instance, if they are not getting enough enrichment, they are more likely to display stress-related behaviors. This can include plucking out their own feathers and even aggression towards their handler.
When handling your Amazon parrot, make sure to be gentle and patient. If you build up a strong level of trust with your bird, they’re going to be more eager to be handled. Don’t just dive straight in petting them, as this can result in aggression and fear.
What Do Amazon Parrots Look Like?
Because there are around 30 different species in the Amazon genus, not all of these birds will look identical. Even among domestic Amazons, there are around 10 different popular varieties which we listed earlier.
In general, these birds are green in color. But, you will find different color accents in each species, including blues, reds, and yellows. Their coloring will usually be very vibrant, which contributes to their popularity. Amazons are medium to large in size. They will often be between 9 and 18 inches long, with rounded tails.
Amazon Parrot Care
Amazon parrots need plenty of enrichment to minimise the risk of stress related behaviors. This enrichment can include foraging – you might choose to serve their meals up in a way that allows them to forage for their food. You can also find toys and other enrichment tools in most bird stores.
It’s a good idea to ensure your Amazon has plenty of time outside their birdcage each day. Some studies suggest that these birds are happiest when kept in pairs, but there is still a lot of debate over whether this is more beneficial than housing them alone. So, it’s a good idea to speak to your local veterinarian, or take a look at some of the evidence before deciding either way.
Amazon Parrot Diet and Feeding
So, we’ve learnt that these birds can really enjoy foraging for their food. But, what do Amazon parrots need to eat? In the wild, studies have observed that Amazons are herbivorous generalists. This means they eat a huge variety of plants. Such as nuts, leaves, tree bark, seeds, fruits, berries, and more.
In captivity, it’s important you’re giving your bird the right nutritional balance. But, many owners will include vegetables in their bird’s diet, such as peas, beans, and carrots. Before trying a new food with your bird, make sure it is safe and non-toxic.
Amazon Parrot Health and Lifespan
In captivity, these birds can reach very long lifespans. Some owners report their birds living as long as 30 and 50 years! So, this isn’t a small commitment at all.
Despite this long potential lifespan, there are still plenty of health issues that can affect Amazons. Learn about these before bringing your bird home, so you can recognise early signs. Here are some common health problems for Amazons:
- Ulcerative keratitis
Is an Amazon Parrot Right for Me?
These birds are not a small commitment. Although they are growing in popularity across the world, potential owners must be prepared to give them the best care possible for decades. This is not a pet that you’ll only have for a few years at most. Their care needs are also often more complex than people first assume. Amazons, like most other birds, have high stimulation needs. If they don’t get enough enrichment, they can become stressed and depressed. So, you’ll need to be able to dedicate time to enrichment every single day.
If you have lots of space in your home and are prepared to dedicate a lot of your time every day to your bird, an Amazon could be a great choice for you. But, bear in mind that they won’t necessarily suit apartments, as these birds can be very loud.
Where to Find an Amazon Parrot
Capturing wild Amazons to become pets is illegal in most places. However, these birds are still bred in captivity by reputable breeders. So, if you’re looking for an Amazon to call your own, make sure you choose one of these reputable breeders rather than someone working illegally to supply “exotic” pets.
You might also be able to find Amazons available in bird rescue centers. Since many owners don’t realise quite how long these birds live, they may end up giving up their pets if they can no longer care for them. Not all birds available for rescue are troublesome! This is a great avenue to go down if you’re ready to bring an Amazon home.
Do You Have an Amazon Parrot?
What type of Amazon parrot are you sharing your home with? We would love to hear about them in the comments! What’s their favorite treat?
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References and Resources
- Hvenegaard, A. (et al), ‘Retrospective Study of Ocular Disease in Amazon Parrots’, Pesquisa Veterinária Brasileira (2009)
- Meehan, C. (et al), ‘Isosexual Pair Housing Improves the Welfare of Young Amazon Parrots’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2003)
- Meehan, C. (et al), ‘Foraging Opportunity and Increased Physical Complexity Both Prevent and Reduce Psychogenic Feather Picking by Young Amazon Parrots’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2003)
- Mench, J. & Meehan, C. ‘Environmental Enrichment Affects the Fear and Exploratory Responses to Novelty of Young Amazon Parrots’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2002)
- Rodriguez-Lopez, R. ‘Environmental Enrichment for Parrot Species: Are We Squawking up the Wrong Tree?’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2016)
- Grant, R. (et al), ‘ExNOTic: Should We Be Keeping Exotic Pets?’, Animals (2017)
- Martens, J. (et al), ‘Diet and Feeding Behavior of Naturalised Amazon Parrots in a European City’, Bio One Complete (2013)
- Vale, L. ‘Environmental Enrichment and Welfare in Caged Parrots’, Wally McGreevy Award Winning Essay (2003)