Amazon Parrots
pet bird

Amazon Parrots

Amazon parrot information

The amazon parrots are found in the genus Amazona in the family Psittacidae. This genus currently comprises about 25-30 different described species, but the taxonomy is somewhat disputed.

All members of the genus Amazona are medium sized or large and hail from South or Central America (including Mexico and the Caribbean). They have comparatively short, somewhat square, tails. Most amazon parrots are predominantly green and decorated with accenting colors which can be really striking. Just like the other parrots, amazons have four toes on each foot, two pointing forwards and two pointing backward, and the feet dexterity of the amazon parrot is truly amazing.

White fronted Amazon Parrot
White fronted Amazon Parrot

Amazon parrot taxonomy

Kingdom:      Animalia
Phylum:         Chordata
Class:            Aves
Order:           Psittaciformes
Family:          Psittacidae
Subfamily:    Psittacinae
Tribe:             Arini
Genus:           Amazona

The taxonomy of the amazon parrots are under debate and you can therefore find different information in different sources.

  • Black-billed Amazon                                         Amazona agilis
  • Blue-cheeked Amazon                                       Amazona dufresniana
  • Blue-fronted Amazon                                        Amazona aestiva
  • Cuban Amazon or Rose-throated Parrot           Amazona leucocephala
  • Festive Amazon                                                 Amazona festiva
  • Hispaniolan Amazon                                          Amazona ventralis
  • Imperial Amazon                                               Amazona imperialis
  • Kawall's Amazon                                               Amazona kawalli
  • Lilac-crowned Amazon                                     Amazona finschi
  • Mealy Amazon                                                   Amazona farinosa
  • Orange-winged Amazon                                    Amazona amazonica
  • Puerto Rican Amazon                                        Amazona vittata
  • Red-browed Amazon                                        Amazona rhodocorytha
  • Red-crowned Amazon                                       Amazona viridigenalis
  • Red-lored Amazon                                            Amazona autumnalis
    • Lilacine Amazon                                    Amazona autumnalis lilacina
  • Red-necked Amazon                                         Amazona arausiaca
  • Red-spectacled Amazon                                    Amazona pretrei
  • Red-tailed Amazon                                            Amazona brasiliensis
  • Scaly-naped Amazon                                         Amazona mercenaria
  • St Lucia Amazon                                               Amazona versicolor
  • St Vincent Amazon                                            Amazona guildingii
  • Tucumán Amazon                                              Amazona tucumana
  • Vinaceous Amazon                                            Amazona vinacea
  • White-fronted Amazon                                      Amazona albifrons
  • Yellow-billed Amazon                                       Amazona collaria
  • Yellow-lored Amazon                                       Amazona xantholora
  • Yellow-crowned Amazon                                  Amazona ochrocephala
    • Yellow-naped Amazon                          Amazona ochrocephala auropalliata
    • Yellow-headed Amazon                        Amazona ochrocephala oratrix
  • Yellow-shouldered Amazon                              Amazona barbadensis

The taxonomy of the Yellow-crowned Amazon, Amazona ochrocephala, is debated. Some authorities view it as a single species with several subspecies, while others consider them to be three separate species: Amazona ochrocephala, Amazona auropalliata and Amazona oratrix.
Earlier, you could find amazon parrots on the islands Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean, but these birds are now extinct. They are regarded as hypothetical extinct species, since it remains unclear if they were separate species or just subspecies, or if they hailed from parrots introduced to the islands by man. If you encounter the names Guadeloupe Amazon, Amazona violacea, or Martinique Amazon, Amazona martinica, you should therefore keep in mind that they are only hypothetical species, not scientifically confirmed and described ones.

Amazon parrot care

Before you purchase an amazon parrot, it is very important to check up on current international and national regulations regarding captive-bred and wild-caught specimens of the species you are interested in. Some species of amazon parrot are still abundant in the wild while others are endangered or even close to extinction.

As of 2008, all species of Amazon parrot are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species but many of them are only listen as Least Concern.

Least Concern
Amazona aestiva (Blue-fronted Amazon)
Amazona albifrons (White-fronted Amazon)
Amazona amazonica (Orange-winged Amazon)
Amazona auropalliata (Yellow-naped Amazon)
Amazona autumnalis (Red-lored Amazon)
Amazona farinosa (Mealy Amazon)
Amazona festiva (Festive Amazon)
Amazona kawalli (Kawall's Amazon)
Amazona mercenaria (Scaly-naped Amazon)
Amazona ochrocephala (Yellow-crowned Amazon)
Amazona xantholora (Yellow-lored Amazon)

Near Threatened  
Amazona dufresniana (Blue-cheeked Amazon)
Amazona leucocephala (Cuban Amazon)
Amazona tucumana (Tucuman Amazon)

Amazona agilis (Black-billed Amazon)
Amazona arausiaca (Red-necked Amazon)
Amazona barbadensis (Yellow-shouldered Amazon)
Amazona brasiliensis (Red-tailed Amazon)
Amazona collaria (Yellow-billed Amazon)
Amazona finschi (Lilac-crowned Amazon)
Amazona guildingii (St Vincent Amazon)
Amazona pretrei (Red-spectacled Amazon)
Amazona ventralis (Hispaniolan Amazon)
Amazona versicolor (St Lucia Amazon)
Amazona vinacea (Vinaceous Amazon)

Amazona imperialis (Imperial Amazon)
Amazona oratrix (Yellow-headed Amazon)
Amazona rhodocorytha (Red-browed Amazon)
Amazona viridigenalis (Red-crowned Amazon)

Critically Endangered
Amazona vittata (Puerto Rican Amazon)

Extinct in the Wild

Amazona martinicana (Martinique Amazon)

  • only a hypothetical species

Amazona violacea (Guadeloupe Amazon)

  • only a hypothetical species

Amazon parrots are intelligent and highly sociable and can only be recommended to keepers who know that they will be able to spend a lot of time with their birds. Amazon parrots are highly apt at imitating sounds and can even learn to accurately name and count various objects in their environment. Their ability to mimic sounds is only rivaled by the famous African Grey Parrot.

They highly intelligent amazon parrot must be provided with plenty of things to explore and investigate, otherwise it will grow bored and depressed in captivity. It needs both social interaction and mental challenges to stay happy and healthy.

It is important to give your amazon parrot with wooden things to chew on, because its urge to chew on wood is very strong. In the wild, amazon parrots chew out nests in trees. To keep beak and nails in trim, the cage should contain mineral blocks, lava blocks, concrete perches or similar, otherwise you will have to trim beak and nails manually.

Amazon parrots wants to stay clean and will appreciate being sprayed with lukewarm water or having a shallow water tray in the cage to bath in.

Amazon parrots are not recommended for inexperienced bird keepers. They are charming and highly affectionate companions, but they can also be moody, noisy, aggressive, jealous and obstinate. The powerful beak can deliver a bite severe enough to require stitches.

Most amazon parrots pick up new tricks very quickly and some can even be potty trained. Keepers report how their birds have learned to go potty in a special part of their aviary or in waste paper baskets in the home.

Cage maintenance
once a day                          clean water and food dishes, clean bars and perches
twice a week                       change bottom trays, replace dirty litter
once a week                        wash all bars, perches and toys    
once a month                                            clean the entire cage
once or twice a year            disinfect the entire cage

Feeding Amazon parrots

In the wild, the amazon parrot feeds chiefly on nuts, fruits and leaves. It is important to give your bird a varied diet to ensure optimal health and make life in captivity less boring and monotonous. You can for instance use parrot pellets with added vitamins as a base and supplement with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds are also highly appreciated, but don’t forget that a bird that is given a lot of calorie rich nuts and seeds, e.g. sunflower seeds, can become obese unless it spends a lot of energy flying or walking around. If you suspect the diet of being too low in proteins, give your parrot occasional treats in the form of cottage cheese, boiled eggs or cooked chicken. Do not serve avocado to parrots since this fruit is suspected of being toxic to many birds.    

Breeding Amazon parrots

In most species, males and females look the same and are hard to sex. One of the trickiest steps in successful amazon parrot breeding is to obtain a compatible pair, since the couple needs to bond with each other before any mating can take place.

Males are usually ready to reproduce when they are one year old, while females need to be about 3-5 years old. Even a docile Amazon parrot can become aggressive during the breeding period, so be prepared. 

In the wild, they use their strong beaks to chew out cavities in trees to nest in. In captivity, you can provide them with a nesting box instead. The bottom should be covered in some type of soft bedding.

The female bird will lay 2-4 white eggs and incubate them for 26-28 days. The newly hatched offspring are very helpless; their eyes are closed and they have no real feathers, only fluff. It is advisable to hand-feed the offspring since this makes the birds more suitable as human companions. After 70-100 days, the hatchlings will have developed a full plumage and be ready to search out their own food.

Amazon parrot health

It is hard to diagnose a sick amazon parrot and it is advisable to locate a skilled avian veterinary well in advance, before you actually need any help.

Signs of poor health in amazon parrots

  • apathy
  • sleeping more or less than normally
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • drinking more or less than normally
  • ruffled plumage
  • resting with the head turned back
  • sneezing
  • discharge from nostrils
  • cloudy eyes
  • changed faeces

Amazon parrots can become infected with psittacosis (parrot fever), a disease which can spread to humans.

Poor health and problems such a feather plucking in an amazon parrot doesn’t have to stem from physical causes; it can just as well be a sign of boredom or loneliness.  

Amazon parrot facts

Amazon parrot fact # 1
The price of an Amazon parrot in the United States typically ranges from 800 to 1600 USD. Breeds regarded as more apt at learning words is usually more expensive than less talkative species.

Amazon parrot fact # 2
Since Amazon parrots hail from very sunny parts of the world, they are used to vast amounts of sunlight. Without sufficient amounts of full-spectrum light they may develop health problems, such as hypocalcemia.

Amazon parrot fact # 3
It is not unusual for amazon parrots to be very noisy at sunrise and sunset.

Amazon parrot fact # 4
When purchasing a new amazon parrot, give it a chance to adjust to its new home for a few days before you start handling it, unless it clearly shows that it wants to be handled and petted by you.

Amazon parrot fact # 5
Amazon parrots can not only learn words, they can also learn to mimic other sounds in their environment.

Amazon parrot lifespan

In captivity, a well cared for amazon parrot can reach an age of 40-60 years. One amazon parrot actually lived for 119 years, but such an old age is very rare. As you can see, an amazon parrot is a long-term commitment.


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