Bird Food for Your Amazon Parrot
Companion Amazon parrots are typically hardy eaters that also tend to plump up from inactivity. Wild Amazon parrots rarely resemble sloths. Most of their day is filled with activity, including flying and foraging for food. So why should your Amazon parrot be bored with his daily meals? We have designed Lafeber food to be both nutritious and fun for the entire avian family, giving your parrot both physical and mental stimulation. The shape and texture of all of our bird foods is intended to appeal to a bird’s natural instincts and sense of curiosity. We offer a wide variety of food and snacks. Try a little of everything in one of our Best Seller Assortment Packs to see what food your Amazon parrot likes the best.
The Lilac-Crowned Amazon
The Lilac-Crowned Amazon (Amazona finschi) is a sweet and compelling character, often fearless to a fault, like many of the Amazons, but is full of personality and is a loyal companion when socialized properly. This medium-sized parrot, also called the Finsch’s Amazon, isn’t among the superstars of the Amazons, like the Yellow-naped and the Double Yellow-head, because it lacks the dazzle and size of these other birds, but it makes up for it in companionability.
The Lilac-crowned originates in Mexico, where its numbers have declined rapidly due to the demands of the pet trade, poachers, and destruction of its habitat. This species is often confiscated from smugglers at the Mexican border, but many get through. It is thought that as few as 10,000 individuals still survive in the wild. As their numbers decline, breeders in the US have become more interested in this species, so breeding efforts have been made in earnest. Unfortunately, this parrot doesn’t reproduce freely in captivity, making it quite a challenge for the serious breeder or hobbyist.
In typical Amazon style, the Lilac-crowned is gregarious and unreserved, and isn’t shy about making noise and defending its territory. It isn’t as noisy or loud as some of the other popular Amazons, but noise is relative, so those with sensitive ears will not make good companions for this bird. A cage cover is a good idea so that owners won’t be woken up early in the morning. This species is good at whistling, and some individuals can amass quite a vocabulary.
At sexual maturity, this species can get cranky and nippy, even unpredictable and sometimes vicious or protective of its territory, just like many of the other Amazons. This is typical behavior and shouldn’t last long, though it can be insulting and daunting for sensitive owners. For this reason, the Lilac-crowned is a good choice for the seasoned bird-keeper rather than the novice. Teaching the bird to step up reliably and to step onto a stick will prove invaluable for springtime, when hormones can run amok.
This species needs daily handling and attention, and isn’t going to thrive on meager interaction. In the wild, this social parrot is found in flocks numbering in the hundreds. The parrot’s guardian should also be able to remain composed when bitten and not take the behavior personally. This is not a good companion for a child.
Amazons in general can be challenging and temperamental birds, though some individuals are quite yielding. However, that’s not the norm, and a guardian has to understand that this self-directed animal is going to want to have its way all of the time. It can be trained to perform behaviors, but it’s more likely to teach a guardian to do “tricks” rather than the other way around. The guardian has to learn Amazon body language to be able to predict behavior. For example, if the tail is fanned out, the irises pinning, the feathers at the neck standing on end, and the bird is strutting around like a model on a runway, that means to get out of the bird’s way! Amazons are likely to change homes several times in a lifetime due to this kind of intimidation, which is often just bluffing.
This species is a hardy chewer, so it’s critical that it have a variety soft wooden toys to play with, along with sturdy perches and foot toys. “The more toys the better” is a good motto for this curious bird. This bird needs a lot of mental stimulation to keep from becoming bored and neurotic. Keep all valuables and furniture out of the bird’s reach.
Housing for the Lilac-crowned should be spacious. Amazons tend to become lazy “perch potatoes” and become fat, even obese, if not given enough exercise and space. A cage-top playpen is a nice addition to the housing, as is a separate playpen. Amazons are pretty good about staying put on a playpen, but some individuals are prone to roaming, which can lead to destruction of valuables.
In the wild, the Lilac-crowned consumes dozens of different kinds of vegetation, including flowers, seeds, tree fruits, berries, new leaves, and grain and fruit crops. Like other parrots, this species needs variety to keep fit, healthy, and to prevent boredom. This species can live more than 50 years if cared for properly.
The Yellow-Naped Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala auropalliata) originates from Southern Mexico and Central America and is one of the most commonly kept Amazons due to its renowned talking ability and wide spread availability. They are popular pets, but, like any bird, have their quirks and idiosyncrasies – important things to consider when looking for a long-lived pet, like an Amazon.
The Yellow-Naped Amazon is a stout green bird with a black beak and a characteristic bright yellow patch on its nape (the back of its neck). It may have a few tiny yellow feathers on the head or around the neck, but for the most part this bird is a shimmering green. The tail is short with a band of reddish and dark green across the middle of the underside. They are good flyers in the wild, but Amazons tend to get sluggish and fat in captivity – they have prominent breasts that will get even larger as they get lazier! There is a blue mutation with a white spot on the nap instead of yellow – this bird is the color of the bluest summer sky, a breathtaking sight – and you can own one for only $30,000.00 – they are very rare!
While they are not the noisiest of the Amazons, they do have their moments – they use their parrot-voices intermittently, but they are loud! Yellow-napes are prized for talking ability, and will not be out-talked by any other Amazon, both in quantity and clarity of speech. Like many other parrots, it is uncanny what they say and at what times – they seem to be able to contextualize human speech. It has been proven that parrots are capable of this, the Yellow-naped being no exception. Beware of what you say around this bird – you will be hearing it back for a long time.
Yellow-napes are wonderful as young birds, but tend to become nippy, even outright aggressive as they get older, particularly the males, though individual birds vary. They are notorious for temperament changes, and will attack their owners viciously. Females tend to remain sweeter, so you might want to consider a hen when making your purchase. This may not be a bird for children, as a bite from a Yellow-nape’s beak is formidable. But don’t let this daunt you – they have wonderful pet potential, and they are certainly a popular choice for many reasons. If you notice a temperament change, simply take precautions that you don’t get hurt, or hurt the bird either.
All Amazons have a tendency toward becoming couch potatoes, sitting around all day, eating starchy foods. But there are consequences for an obese bird: fatty tumors and a greatly reduced life span. Yellow-napes are reported as living up to ninety years, so this bird is a lifetime investment – make sure that your children or a good-natured neighbor love the bird too because they just might inherit him. Good nutrition, including lots of fruit and vegetables, and lots of playtime and exercise will keep your Amazon in good shape for a long time.
The Orange Winged Amazon
The Orange Winged Amazon (Amazona amazonica) used to be more prevalent in aviculture, and is now fading slightly from the scene due to the popularity of other, flashier Amazons, such as the Yellow-naped. The Orange Winged is considered a “nice little bird,” but it doesn’t prompt the passions that some of the other Amazons often do. However, Orange Winged fans stand fiercely by this species, and Amazon fans in general will appreciate the lower price and the somewhat yielding personality, though some individuals can be quite temperamental.
As it has happened with other species in the United States, the Orange Winged may become more rare in the pet trade and eventually raise in price in years to come. Prior to 1991, the Orange Winged was available so cheaply and could be found in such large numbers, breeders didn’t set this bird up to breed in the quantities that they did the Yellow-naped and the Blue-fronted. The wild caught Orange Winged wasn’t hand-raised in the countries of its origin, like many of the other Amazons were, and because of this its pet quality was never appreciated. The Orange Winged hasn’t bounced back from that yet, though more than ten years later, it’s not completely off the map.
The Orange Winged Amazon is often confused with the Blue-fronted Amazon (Amazona aestiva) because of its size and coloration. The Orange Winged has a blue “mask,” whereas the Blue-fronted has blue reaching from the cere to the eye-ring, where the blue coloration stops. Both species have yellow on the face as well, though the Blue-fronted’s yellow coloration doesn’t extend to the cere as it does on the Orange Winged.
The Orange Winged doesn’t have observable orange wings, as the name would suggest, but just the hint of orange on the shoulders, though inspection of the underside of the wing exposes the orange feathers. The Blue-fronted has a dash of red on the shoulders, though it may also have some yellowish coloration there. Both have black and bone-colored beaks, though the beak may be paler on the Orange Winged.
Both birds are primarily comprised of varying shades of lime and emerald green and both species are found with inconsistent degrees of coloration, with more or less red, yellow, orange, or blue on the face and shoulders. Both are about fourteen inches in length, varying by individual, though the Orange Winged is more likely to be slightly smaller. All of this said, these two species are difficult to tell apart for the uninitiated, though one glance at a comparative photo should be enough to tell the difference. Both species are monomorphic, meaning that there’s no visible physical difference between the sexes.
The Orange Winged can be found in the wild in South America, specifically in Bolivia, Surinam, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, French Guiana, Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil, Panama, and Paraguay. They travel in groups, along with other Amazon species. Like other parrots in their region, this bird is trapped for both the pet trade and as food.
Among the feisty Amazons, the Orange Winged is a mellower beast, and makes a good companion for someone not willing to deal with the huge personality of the Yellow-naped. Make no mistake, however, the Orange Winged isn’t a wallflower. It has the lively, energetic, spirited personality common to its family.
The Orange Winged isn’t known as the noisiest of Amazons, though noise is in the ear of the listener, and many human companions (and neighbors!) declare that this bird is definitely not quietest of parrots. It isn’t known as the best talker, though some individuals will learn a few words. It is more likely to mimic sounds and whistles.
In the wild, many Amazons form social groups that aren’t really “flocks” in the way that we perceive them, with a leader and subservient members, but more like a “commune” living in the same area, helping the others to find food, beware of danger, and offering a variety of members to chose from for mating and nesting. Because this social behavior is ingrained in Amazons, and most parrots are just a few of generations away from their wild cousins, the Orange Winged Amazon will thrive only in a social environment where it is allowed to interact with its family members, whether they be other, similar birds, or humans.
Parrots in general, and Amazons in particular, are long-lived animals if cared for properly. The Orange Winged can probably live upwards of 80 years if given the proper housing, nutrition, exercise, and socialization.
In general, the Amazon isn’t a bird for everyone, though a handfed Orange Winged, with its amiable personality and striking good looks, can make a great companion for someone willing to put in the time and effort in caring for this underappreciated species.
The Double-Yellow Headed Amazon
The Double-Yellow Headed Amazon Parrot (Amazona ochrocephala oratrix) is among the most popular companion Amazons, probably due to its striking coloring and its ability to amass a substantial vocabulary. These birds are especially talented in learning opera and other types of singing, making them charming companions. They have been known in captivity since the 1500s, kept by people ranging from pirates to nobility, and are documented as having a more solid temperament than the similarly gifted yellow-naped Amazon.
These 14 to 16 inch active birds are recognizable by the generous amount of yellow over the head, with flecks of yellow extending to the back and neck and yellow feathers on the legs. The shoulders are red and the rest of the body is deep green. The ring around the eye is white and the beak is horn colored. Immature birds are primarily green with a little yellow above the beak and slight red markings on the shoulders. They come into full color at the onset of maturity, at about three to five years of age.
There are several subspecies of the DYH, including the Magna Amazon (Amazona Ochrocephala Magna) and the Tresmariae (Amazona Ochrocephala Tresmariae). These birds have more yellow extending well beyond the head, though they are not as widely available as the double-yellow. The double-yellow headed is commonly bred in captivity, making them easy to find. Babies are primarily available in the early fall, though their availability depends on what part of the country they are coming from.
Most states now require closed bands on all birds, so watch out for “great deals” in Amazons, especially close to the Mexican border. A Mexican native, the DYH is often smuggled into this country and then dumped on unsuspecting shopkeepers. Statistics show that there are nearly 50,000 parrots smuggled in inhumane conditions across the Mexican border each year, half of which die before reaching the United States.
The double-yellow headed Amazon is an active bird that likes to clamber around its given area, and will love to fly if offered enough space. Cage materials should be strong; powder-coated steel or stainless steel makes a good choice.
Toys are essential for this bird, and the most important toys are those that can be chewed and shredded. Easily destroyed soft wood and paper toys are a must, as are sturdier toys made of lava, leather, hard woods, and acrylic. The intelligent double-yellow headed will become bored easily if not given a “job” and will resort to screaming and hostile behavior in lieu of something to do. It is not a known “plucker,” but can easily pick up neurotic patterns that can be annoying to owners.
Feeding this bird isn’t difficult – it has a hardy appetite and will eat everything in its cup if the bird is exposed early to a variety of foods. Foods high in vitamin A are important, as this bird is prone to deficiency. Calcium is equally important. Because its appetite is healthy, the DYH is prone to obesity if it doesn’t get enough exercise. This is why a spacious cage and a playgym are so important, as are toys that make the bird “work.”
A handfed double-yellow headed Amazon is a gregarious bird that can bond fiercely to family members, but generally chooses one person to love as it matures. This can be frustrating for other family members, but the “one person bird” syndrome can often be avoided if each family member is equally attentive to the bird. In some cases, no amount of positive attention will sway the bird’s affections away from its human of choice.
Personality isn’t a problem for this bird – it has character to spare. It talks well and is quick to perform antics that will delight its owners. But this boisterous bird is not without its faults as a companion – it tends to be loud, with screaming sessions twice a day, at dawn and dusk. This is normal and should not be seen as a behavioral problem. Screaming does become a problem, however, when the bird screams all day long, which can happen when it’s bored due to inattentive owners. The DYH needs consistent stimulation and will not thrive on solitude.
Destructive behavior can also be a problem with Amazons, who will gladly chew the furniture instead of toys. Supervision is essential to keeping this bird safe and the house intact. The DYH can live up to 80 years of age, and needs an owner who understands the responsibility of caring for a bird with this lifespan. On the positive side, this bird is highly trainable and wants to please its human companions. It can learn vocal behaviors with ease (and a patient, knowledgeable trainer), and can be clicker trained.
All in all, the double-yellow headed Amazon makes a great companion for the person who understands its needs and who is willing to accept it as it is – a charming, hardy, talkative, noisy, oftentimes moody bird who is at once independent and intensely attached to its human friends.