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The following informative article about Amazon Parrots covers a lot of information
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Amazons are not for the beginner and will require a good amount of experience with easier-to-breed parrots. Expensive birds such as the Amazon parrots are usually sold as surgically sexed or DNA tested birds and have been micro chipped to allow permanent identification. A certificate of the sexing results and identification should be obtained. Amazon Parrots have been kept in Europe as pets for over 500 years.
The Amazon genus consists of about 27 or more species and they are found in Central and South America and some of the Caribbean Islands. They range in size from the Spectacled Amazon and Yellow lored Amazon, both are about 240mm (about 9.5 inches) long up to the Imperial Amazon which is about 460mm (about 18 inches) long.
Amazons are one of the longest lived of the parrot family. 50 years of age can be achieved. If you purchase an Amazon bird or birds it can be considered a potential lifetime companionship.
The colour patterns on the Amazon birds heads are not all identical. This variation may allow the identification of individual birds just by a visual inspection.
Most of the Amazon species can raise their head feathers and/or dilate their eyes if they are alarmed, threatened, or their “personal” territory is intruded upon. This often happens at or around breeding time.
Pets or companion birds:
Amazons are intelligent birds that have been kept as pets or companion birds for many hundreds of years and with the correct training can make good talkers. The behaviour of single pet or companion bird can change significantly as they become sexually and physically mature. A single bird can emotionally attach to one person and resent the intrusion of other people.
Amazon parrots are monomorphic and generally require a DNA or surgical sexing. It is preferable to obtain young birds as Amazon Parrots will pair bond at an early age. Birds that form pair bonds at an early age generally breed well in future years.
It is preferable to purchase birds that have not been hand tamed and human imprinted if you want good breeding results.
Refer also to “Housing birds” web page and the “Australian parrots” web page. Similar information applies to most parrots.
Amazons can be noisy birds and may upset neighbours, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.
Choose the heaviest gauge of wire that you will need for the biggest parrots you now have or are likely to house in the future.
Amazons can be housed in a standard parrot aviary with a fully covered or half covered roof. Solid walls between aviaries would be beneficial to minimize aggression between breeding pairs. A solid partition near the breeding area and double wiring for the rest of the wall/s is another option. Amazons are social birds and the keeping of the non-breeding birds/pairs in sight and sound of each other can keep these birds happy and may help in the birds breeding with more success and less stress on the birds.
The nest box can be attached within the aviary or hung externally in the rear enclosed corridor/walkway. An additional outer layer of 7 mm square wire mesh on the exterior walls and roof will minimize the risk of vermin such as mice, small rats, snakes or small feral birds entering the aviary.
Natural timber perches are best. The placing of natural leafy branches, such as eucalypts, in the aviary or cage will provide the birds with some beak exercise and entertainment. The birds may consume the berries, fruits, nuts or fruiting bodies on the leafy branches. The branches/perches should come in a variety of lengths and diameters. Different species of plants have different bark textures, so providing a variety of different plants can allow these birds to experience different textures underfoot.
Vertical, horizontal and diagonal angled branches or perches should be offered. The vertical and angled branches can have a more textured surface to allow the birds to get better grip and feel safer while they climb and play. Branches can be a substitute for commercial bird ladders. Placement of the branches in an aviary can form part of an aerial walkway and allow older or injured birds easier access to areas otherwise hard to get to.
Rope toys are being manufactured suitable for placing in the aviary or bird cage. If used in accordance with the manufacturers instructions, these items can provide hours of play and entertainment for parrots.
Bird Play toys and bird Play Gyms are now available at many retail bird dealers and these items can also provide hours of play and entertainment for parrots.
Suspended cages are ideal for Amazons. These cages are easy to keep clean and as the Amazons can be aggressive at breeding time there is no need to enter the cage to feed, water, or clean. Suspended cage size can be 3000mm long, 1200mm high and 1200 wide (10 x 4 x 4 feet) and about 1000mm (3 – 3.5 feet) above floor height and may have a with solid partition walls between the cages. The suspended cage with a full length or partial length solid wall can give the birds some privacy from neighbouring birds. The wire should be 25mm x 12.5mm (1 inch x half inch) of about 1.2 or 1.3mm gauge.
Refer also to “Feeding birds” web page and the “Australian parrots” web page. Similar information applies to most parrots.
Can be fed a seed mix that can include a portion of commercial parrot pellets. A variety of fruits, vegetables and green leafy vegetables should form part of their normal food intake. Sprouted or soaked seed can be offered. Examples are the usual basics available year round are apple, orange, pear, carrot, peanuts and corn on the cob, sweet corn, peas and beans. Other fruits, berries and vegetables can be offered subject to seasonal availability. Green leafy vegetables such as silverbeet, endive or spinach should form part of the food intake.
As with many parrots in aviaries, care and observation must be maintained to ensure the Amazons do not become overweight or obese especially during the non breeding season.
A treat for parrots can be the flower head of the Sunflower plant. The flower head full of the seeds can be an alternative way of providing these seeds. Tearing the seed head apart will provide entertainment and exercise for the birds as well as some nutritional value.
Grasses: In an aviary with a concrete floor or a suspended cage, placing a tray of fresh growing grass may add some food and entertainment value. Fill a 300mm square seedling tray with clean soil and plant some vegetable seeds, bird feed seeds or grass seeds and allow to germinate and grow to about 30 – 50 mm (1.5 – 2 inches) and then place in the aviary or cage. This will give them fresh tasty greens to eat and some birds will dig into the soil and nibble on the plant roots. Lightly water the grass and some birds will roll around in the wet grass.
With the introduction of surgical sexing and DNA testing, it is now much easier to obtain a genuine pair.
Amazons can become aggressive and territorial just before and during the breeding season and hand reared birds may show no fear of the owner and attack the owner if the owner gets close to the nest. Amazons will generally breed in their third year and lay 3 or 4 eggs per clutch. Generally breed in the Spring. Incubation lasts about 26 – 29 days and the young fledge at about 7 – 9 weeks of age. They are generally independent of the parent birds about another 2 or 3 weeks later. Nest boxes can be attached to the exterior of the cage. Attaching the nest box exterior to the cage wall or with the nest inspection hole exterior to the cage wall, allows for the minimum interference of and contact with the breeding birds and their young. The nest box is usually hung in the vertical position and has a base of about 250mm x 250mm and about 800 – 1000mm deep. A weld mesh wire ladder is usually attached inside the nest to allow easier entry and exit of the birds. The ladder extends from the top point of the nest material to the lower edge of the entry hole. Nest material can include decomposed non-toxic saw dust, coarse pine saw dust, wood shavings or other suitable material/s.
Many breeders will remove the first clutch of eggs and incubate and hand rear the young. The pair will soon lay a second clutch which they are allowed to incubate, hatch and rear that clutch.
The young can be leg rung with a closed metal ring as a form of identification.
The inspection hole/door for the nest should be at or slightly above the nest material level. A hinged or removable nest box lid is also necessary.
Artificial incubation and hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site. It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here. Refer to current literature or contact competent people who are experienced in the handrearing or fostering of Amazon parrots.
Health Issues: Refer to “Avian Health Issues” web page for information and references.
- Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new bird/s or sick bird/s are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site. Refer “Avian Health Issues” web page option.
- Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace. Keep updating your knowledge and skills.
General References: Refer to references listed on “Book References” web page.
“Amazon Parrots – Aviculture, trade & conservation” Author: R. Low. 324 pages. Cost about $80 (About 2005)
- Australian Aviculture
- A/A Vol 60 No. 4 Apr 2006 Page 69-71 (Advantages & disadvantages of Bird keeping in hot climates)
- A/A Vol 59 No. 11 Nov 2005 Page 252-253 (Use of crop needles)
- A/A Vol 59 No. 10 Oct 2005 Page 233-235 (The case for feeding Green foods – by Dr D. Madill).
- A/A Vol 2 No 3 Mar 1948 Page 24-25 (Birds of yesteryear, Still valid in 2005).
- Australian Birdkeeper
- ABK Vol 18 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 2006 Page 741-745 (The social lives of wild parrots)
- ABK Vol 18 Issue 12. Dec-Jan 2006 Page 733-737 (Enrichment for juvenile parrots)
- ABK Vol 18 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 2005 Page 665-668 (Beaks for every purpose – R. Low)
- ABK Vol 18 Issue 10. Aug-Sept 2005 Page 622-625
- ABK Vol 18 Issue 10. Aug-Sept 2005 Page 608-611 (Cracking the chemical code behind the red colours of parrots).