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Amazon Parrots

Amazon parrots are popular among bird lovers because of their intelligence, affectionate nature and excellent talking abilities. But most new parrot owners are surprised by the amount of care Amazons take, so don’t take on the commitment of owning one until you learn exactly what that commitment means.

Species of Amazon Parrots

Amazon parrot is the common name for a group of more than 60 parrot species native to South America. The three most popular Amazons for bird owners are the blue-fronted, double-yellow-head and yellow-naped species. Most Amazons are predominantly green, with each having species-distinguishing bright splashes of color on their heads and wings. Amazons range in length from 12 to 15 inches. They can live as long as 60 years in captivity, so be sure you’re willing to care for an Amazon for likely the rest of your life.

Behavior

Amazon parrots have instinctive behaviors and needs you should learn about to avoid problem behaviors.

Pet Amazon parrots are affectionate and highly intelligent, and they have a playful streak. They can also be temperamental and noisy if not trained properly. Because of their intelligence, they get bored easily if you don’t provide stimulating activities and variation in their routines, such as training them to do tricks or teaching them to talk or sing. Blue-fronted Amazons are considered the best talkers of the Amazon family; the double-yellow-head and yellow-naped species following closest behind. Hand-raised, young birds make the best pets, especially if you’re a beginning bird owner; otherwise, you may inherit some bad behaviors, such as screaming, biting and shyness, which can be difficult to break in an adult bird. Typically, Amazons are more interactive and affectionate toward their owners if they are raised singly, so unless you plan to breed and raise them, it's best to just have one in your home.

Like most parrots, Amazons love to chew, and they have the added bonus of being basically fearless—this combination often leads to the bird getting into things it shouldn’t. Demolition is natural parrot behavior. It’s not the bird’s problem that he just ate your stereo. In the wild you can tell where parrots hang out by all the detritus on the ground. They are happily up in the trees shredding away. This behavior will not stop, so it’s up to the human, who is supposedly more intelligent, to control the destructive behavior. Keep the bird away from all heirlooms and give them proper things to chew on. You cannot train them to not destroy. These birds are what they are and can’t be anything else. We have to accept them the way they are.”

Should you get an Amazon Parrot

This is a bird that’s full of mischief and needs an owner that is both patient and willing to take the time to train their bird. While a dog can learn to “sit” in a matter of minutes, an Amazon parrot will not stop its unwanted behavior without many, many short training sessions. It’s not that the Amazon isn’t learning—not at all—it’s that these birds like to “do their own thing. Training, right from the start, is a must.

Amazon parrots are one of the better talkers of the parrot world. They seem to be especially fond of music and singing. An Amazon could careless if the song it sings is off-key; it will sing as if it wrote the sing itself. Amazons can learn to speak a many words and phrases and imitate sounds. An Amazon parrot can also be noisy, especially when it wants attention. It can scream loudly and some make a repetitive honk-like sound when they want something. Some Amazons make a little shrill sound to express delight while they eat a favorite treat.

Like most parrots, Amazons aren’t good ‘starter birds.’ They are headstrong, like most parrots, and are a handful. There’s virtually no species of parrot that aren’t potentially headstrong, and Amazons are no exception. Amazons, like most parrots, need training from the beginning, before there is a behavior problem.

Amazons can live between 40 and 80 years of age if properly cared for. This can be a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it: on the pro side, you have the potential for keeping this pet your whole life; on the con side, you will have to think about where the bird will live once you are gone. Will your kids want it? The neighbors? Many people generate a trust for their birds so that they are provided for in the event of the owner’s death. This isn’t a bad idea. You may want to talk to a lawyer and start putting some money aside for your birds—think of it like your bird’s retirement fund.

If you long for silence, don’t bring an Amazon parrot into your home. Some Amazons are louder than others, though none of them are known to be the “quiet type.” “Amazons yell when the sun comes up and yell when the sun goes down. If you don’t give them attention they will contact call you—they want to know that you’re there. If you just walk in to where they are when you’re busy and let them know you’re there they will be fine. There’s a difference between a contact call and screaming. If they scream there’s something wrong.

Care & Feeding

Amazon parrot care starts with providing a good diet. An Amazon diet consisting of a basic parrot feed mix with supplements is generally regarded as suitable. Different bird foods and bird mixes for Amazons are available. Foods available for Amazon parrots include formulated diets, either pelleted or extruded, seed only diets, and parrot mixes which offer a mixture of both. There are pros and cons to feeding only a formulated diet as well as feeding only a seed diet. A seed only diet offers much more variety but requires additional vitamin and calcium supplements. Amazon parrots need not only nutritional requirements met but also variety for psychological enrichment.

Formulated Diet - A formulated diet provides a good nutritional base so does not require the addition of vitamins, however it does not contain the phytonutrients (antioxidant pigments) that are found in vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds. Phytonutrients are believed to boost the immune system, help a body to heal itself, and to prevent some diseases. Also Amazons can become bored with it due to the lack of variety.

Seed Diet - A seed only diet offers much more variety but requires additional vitamin and calcium supplements. Amazon parrots need not only nutritional requirements met but also variety for psychological enrichment.

Fruits and Vegetables - Supplements should include sprouted seeds, all types of fruits such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes, oranges, bananas, mangos, papayas, and even berries such as strawberries and blueberries. Vegetables are also good supplements such as carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, many garden vegetables, and even dandelions and chickweed. NOTE: Amazons are prone to vitamin A deficiency so high foods like dark green leafy veggies, carrots, mangos and sweet potatoes will help insure a long life for your bird. Do not feed avocado as it may be toxic to birds! Proteins - .Additional proteins can be offered about every 1 1/2 weeks such as cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, and even canned dog food.

An Amazon parrot often has a hearty appetite, especially for people food so owners need to make sure that they (and other household members) do not overdue it with treats and table foods. An Amazon parrot’s main diet should consist of a nutritionally balanced manufactured diet, as well as an assortment of healthy vegetables, some fruit and healthy treats that pack nutrition instead of empty calories. Amazon parrots seem to relish the texture of food almost as much as its taste. A properly cared for Amazon parrot that consumes a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet can live up to 60 years.

Human contact is vital for their mental health, so if your circumstances are likely to change in the near future then maybe you should reconsider buying an Amazon, rather than buying and having to sell it on when your situation changes as it really is not good for parrots to keep having to be re-homed and causes a number of problems to the bird.

Water - Give your Amazon fresh drinking water every day.

Bird Baths - The personal hygiene of your Amazon includes a weekly shower to help keep it's plumage in good shape. This can be accomplished with either a hand held shower sprayer or a hose with a fine spray head and lukewarm water.

Bird Grooming -
Wings:
The wings should be kept trim if you want to discourage flight and to prevent the loss of your pet through an open window or door. Beak
The beak needs to be trimmed if it becomes overgrown or deformed. There are many mineral blocks, lava blocks, and other beak grooming items available at your pet store to help your bird keep its beak in shape. Nails:
A variety of concrete type perches are also available to help keep the nails trim, but they should be trimmed if they become overgrown. Bird nail trimmers and styptic powder to stop the bleeding are also available at pet shops and online.

Amazon Parrots at Sexual Maturity:

A single Amazon bird can be a wonderful pet if it gets lots of attention. But this is until about the age or 4 or 5, when they reach sexual maturity. At this time if the parrot is left alone a lot it may become restless, may start feather plucking and in general show signs of psychological distress. A female may even start laying infertile eggs

In their natural environment, this is the time when they would begin to find a mate and pair up. Living with a mate is part of the social pattern of the Amazon parrot. The key here is the amount of attention you pet needs.

Deciding Whether to Get a Mate for Your Amazon - As your pet Amazon reaches sexual maturity, this may be the time to consider getting a mate for your parrot. This is primarily true if it seems to be distressed and you cannot spend more time with it. Sometimes pairing is the only satisfactory solution even if you do spend more time with it and it still remains distressed. This will depend a lot on you and your bird.

Amazon Parrots and Children - Amazons and children can mix very successfully if the parrot gets used to the child, and the child learns how to interact with the parrot. However, sometimes a parrot can get very jealous of small children and so you should be on your guard.

Amazon Parrots and Other Pets - Amazons and other pets can also get used to each other and learn to accept each other. Again, however, be very careful to monitor all groupings of animals. An Amazon can be very dangerous to small pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, and even small birds. Close friendships are just as possible as deadly enemy behaviors. You won't know until the relationship unfolds over time

Potential Problems

As with all parrots, Amazon parrot problems will be averted if you offer them a good environment and get familiar with your pet so you can spot any signs of illness. An ailing parrot should be taken to a avian veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Signs of illness to be aware of are ruffled plumage, resting often with their head turned back, having no appetite, sneezing, discharge from the nostrils, cloudy eyes, and any change in the feces. Some of the common illnesses your Amazon could contract are internal parasites, intestinal influenza, coccidiosis, respiratory ailments, feather picking, and parrot fever also known as psittacosis.

Behavior problems usually stem from something missing in the bird's environment. Boredom, lack of trust, lack of interaction with other birds or people can lead to problems like biting, feather plucking, and screaming. Amazon parrot problems can also stem from restlessness as they reach sexual maturity at 4 to 5 years of age. Developing a bond of trust and spending time with your bird helps to avoid these problems.

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