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Click to enlargeAn Introduction
To Amazons


Amazon Parrots

Amazons inhabit both Central and South America. DieterHoppe's The World of Amazon Parrots and Joseph M.Forshaw's Parrots of the World each list a total of 27 species of Amazons. Both books then go on to list anywhere from one sub-species to many sub-species of each. The Lexicon of Parrots lists a few different species and other experts believe there are even more bringing the total number of Amazons even higher. For our purposes however, we are going to concentrate on the 10 species most commonly found if you are thinking of adding an Amazon to your household.

Orange-winged Amazon (Amazona amazonica - 3 subspecies) - Length 12 ½ inches with a basic plumage color of green. The brow and crown coloring is an irregular blue and yellow and their cheeks are yellow. The outer edges of their wings are yellow-green with red. Their beak is mainly horn-colored and darker at the tip. The Orange Wing Amazon is often considered a family amazon with a good-natured personality and fun loving attitude. Orange Wings are quite capable of becoming good talkers. Sometimes confused with Blue Fronts, perspective buyers should learn the differences between the two species.

Blue-Fronted Amazon (Amazona aestiva - 2 subspecies) - Length 14 inches with a basic body color of green. The forehead contains a bright blue and yellow crown and the front edge of their wings is red and may contain some yellow. There is some red at the base of the tail feathers and their beaks are black. On the sub-species Amazona aestiva xanthopteryx, the bend of the wings are yellow sometimes mixed with red. Blue Fronts can be very good talkers and are usually even-tempered and friendly with all their humans if socialized early on.

Mealy Amazon (Amazona farinosa - 5 subspecies) - Length 15 ½ inches of basically green coloration dusted with gray. Some feathering on the crown is yellow and their wing edges are red with a yellow-green band at the end of the tail. The beak is a dark horn color. Amazona farinosa inornata lacks the yellow on the crown and another subspecies has a bluish colored neck and crown. Although not quite as common as some of the other Amazons, Mealies are often considered one of the gentlest Amazons. Although also considered a little on the loud side, they make up for it in the easygoing dispositions and can be great family additions.

White-fronted, White-browed or Spectacled Amazon (Amazona albifrons - 3 subspecies) - About 10 inches in length with a white forehead and a blue-green crown. The feathering around the eye areas is red and the wing edges are red. The beak is a yellowish color. These Amazons are considered fair talkers also.

Green-Cheeked, Red-Crowned or Mexican Red-headed Amazon (Amazona viridigenalis) - Length 13 inches with a bright red crown, forehead and lores, a half-moon shaped blue-violet band extends into the cheek area. Primary coverts are blue and red with a yellow colored beak. I consider these Amazons somewhat on the loud side, but fair talkers and very sweet natured birds. The babies I have raised have been very gentle and exhibited good talking ability. Bonnie our 60+ year old Green-Cheek Amazon does very little talking herself, but she definitely makes up for it with her very, very sweet and gentle nature. Even our male breeders show very little aggression during breeding seasons. Immature Green-cheeks are often confused with Lilac-crowned Amazons so perspective buyers should make sure they know the difference before purchasing.

Lilac-crowned or Finsch Amazon (Amazona finschi - 2 subspecies) - Length of 13 inches with forehead reddish-brown and crown with a bluish/lilac colored half-moon shaped band. These Amazons have a fair talking ability with good temperaments.

Red-lored Amazon (Amazona autumnalis - 4 subspecies) - Length 13 inches with a forehead of scarlet red. Their crown and some neck feathers are bright blue and their cheeks are yellow and have some red and blue-black coloring on the wings. Their beak is dark horn-colored. There are some color variations in the subspecies with one lacking the yellow cheek coloring. These beautiful, often shy Amazons exhibit a mild-mannered personality and a fair potential for talking making them a good choice.

Yellow-Crowned Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala - 9 subspecies) - Average length of 13 ½ inches with bright red wing edging. The underside of the tail is a yellow-green with a red spot at the base of each tail feather. The beak is a dark gray color and the base and a portion of the upper mandible is a pink color. One subspecies has a forehead of yellow and a horn-colored darker pointed beak. Two of the subspecies have yellow necks and horn-colored beaks and are larger than the nominate at 15 and 16 inches in size. Yellow Crowns can become very good talkers.

Two subspecies of the above Yellow-crowned are two of the most well known of all Amazons. First is the Yellow-naped Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala auropalliata) and second is the Double Yellow-headed Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala oratrix). Males of both these groups have a reputation of being the "bad boys". Adult Yellow Napes and Double Yellow Heads in full hormonal season of breeding would be Amazons to pay attention to because they can in fact become quite hard to handle at times. Females in these groups can be slightly less aggressive during breeding season, although one should not be lulled into a sense of get a female, never have a problem. As a breeder of Yellow Napes, I find them to be the most enjoyable fun loving clowns of all the Amazons I know. Not all male Yellow Napes and Double Yellow Heads become aggressive maniacs, not all females stay sweet. Each bird is an individual. I also find these Amazons unsurpassed in talking ability among Amazons. My 4 year old Nape Shasta, has a vocabulary of around 400 words. She sings full verses of 6 songs and can sing them perfectly word for word, or often loves to mix them up and sing silly songs like "We wish you a Merry Jingle Bell" or "Old MacDonald had a doggie in the window, arf arf" and then looks around to see if anyone heard her new song. She's a big show off and loves being the center of attention.

Amazons vary in size from about 10 inches to 16 inches and can be very long-lived, with reports of Amazons living to be 100 years old or more. As noted above, some species have more than one common name and sometimes it can get a little confusing trying to figure out what kind of Amazon you are looking at. Although each Amazon is an individual, some species are known for certain mannerisms, abilities or problems and anyone interested in adding an Amazon to their family should read and research as much as possible before purchasing a bird. Amazons are fun loving clowns who tend to go with the flow enabling them to become great members of a family. They like to be where the action is and will require nice roomy cages and lots of toys to beat up, chew on, seek and destroy, preen and just bully sometimes. Amazons can be quite vocal each morning and evening as they announce their joy at life and are not considered quiet birds; although they seldom become screamers if provided with lots of playful activity during the day. They should be well socialized from an early age to help them remain handeable by more than one person. My 18 year old male Blue Front P.J has never exhibited any aggression during any season of the year. He does become more vocal and more destructive towards his toys during springtime, but not aggressive towards his humans. On the other hand, Ronnie, our 22 year old Yellow Nape, can display a bad temper without any provocation during certain times of the year. Amazons are often considered the honest parrot as once you learn their body language, they will always warn you when they are in a bad mood. You just need to be paying attention. Amazons have a tendency to become a little overweight with age, so not only is play important, their diet should be varied and structured to prevent obesity. Amazons can have a very strong personality and when they want something, they want what they want when they want it. They are very intelligent parrots and can be demanding, loud, destructive, loving, silly, playful, full of songs and conversations and definitely an expressive individual. Although Amazons are not for everyone, if you choose to share your life with one, it can be the most rewarding experience ever.

Amazona amazonica - Orange-winged Amazon
Amazona aestiva - Blue-fronted Amazon
Amazona ochrocephala - Yellow-crowned Amazon
Amazona barbadensis - Yellow-shouldered Amazon
Amazona farinosa - Mealy Amazon
Amazona mercenaria - Scaly-naped Amazon
Amazona finschi - Lilac-crowned Amazon
Amazona viridigenalis - Green-cheeked Amazon (Mexican Red-headed Amazon)
Amazona diadema - Diademed Amazon
Amazona festiva - Festive Amazon
Amazona brasiliensis - Red-tailed Amazon
Amazona rhodocorytha - Red-browed Amazon
Amazona dufresniana - Blue-cheeded Amazon
Amazona vinacea - Vinaceous Amazon
Amazona pretrei - Red-spectacled Amazon
Amazona albifrons - White-fronted Amazon
Amazona leucocephala - Cuban Amazon
Amazona ventralis - Hispaniolan Amazon
Amazona collaria - Yellow-billed Amazon
Amazona vittata - Puerto Rican Amazon
Amazona agilis - Black-billed Amazon
Amazona arausiaca - Red-necked Amazon
Amazona versicolor - St.Lucia Amazon
Amazona imperialis - Imperial Amazon
Amazona guildingii - St. Vincent Amazon
Amazona xanthops - Yellow-faced Amazon
Amazona xantholora - Yellow-lored Amazon
Amazona autumnalis - Red-lored Amazons
Amazona kawalli - Kawall's Amazon
Amazona tucumana - Tucuman Amazon


Copywrite 2003 The Nature Chest - All rights reserved - No part of this article may be reprinted without the author's permission

Would you like to read more about Amazons?

Lexicon of Parrots - Amazons

Amazona Society



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