The Pionus parrot is a collective name for several parrot species that include the Blue Headed Parrot (Pionus menstruus), Red-billed Parrot (Pionus sordidus), Scaly-headed Parrot (Pionus maximiliani), White-crowned Parrot (Pionus senilis), Speckle-faced Parrot (Pionus tumultuosus), Bronze-winged Parrot (Pionus chalcopterus), and Dusky Parrot (Pionus fuscus). Blue Headed, Scaly-headed, and White-crowned parrots are most popular as pets.
Photo by Anna Hesser
Pionus parrots - Species Profile:
Origin: South America and Mexico
General descriptionPionus parrots are medium size birds with a chunky body, bare eye ring (which can vary in colour), and short square tail. Overall, their appearance resembles the Amazon parrots, but they are noticeably smaller than most Amazons. Besides the size, Pionus parrots can be distinguished from the Amazons by the tail. All Pionus parrots have a special treat - red feathers under their tails - while on the Amazons these feathers are green. The colouration of Pionus parrots depends on the species. As a general rule, they are not brightly coloured but their plumage has many beautiful tints. Blue-headed parrots are mostly green, with a blue head and neck. Red-billed parrots are mostly green as well, but they have a dull blue chest and bright red bill. Scaly-headed parrots have predominantly green head feathers, blue or indigo chest, green wings and back, and two-tone beak (usually but not necessarily). White-crowned parrots are mostly dark green or dark blue, with a white crown and white forehead, a whitish throat, and a light green belly. Speckle-faced parrots are predominantly green with dull bluish-grey neck and red or white speckled head. Bronze-winged parrots are mostly dark blue with dark bronze wings and pinkish throat. The Dusky parrots are predominantly dark brownish-grey with blue flight feathers.
The size of Pionus parrots ranges from 9 to 12 inches. The average life span is 22 to 25 years. Many, however, can live up to 40 years.
TemperamentPionus Parrots are full of personality, wit and charm. They are sweet, peaceful and easy to get along with. Biting is rare. Even if it happens, they tend to bite gently. They like things to be fairly calm and quiet around them. Playful and cuddly, they like sitting on your lap or playing with toys, as well as just being in the same room with their family. Some individuals can be more affectionate or more nervous than the others. These birds are not particularly energetic, but all Pionus parrots love to be included in what is going on around. Pionus parrots can learn a few words, but they don't tend to talk extensively and are known to be much quieter than Amazon parrots. They do, however, love to make wild jungle noises that are really fun, and they will occasionally let out a good yell. Overall, Pionus parrots are good for people with children, and quiet enough for most apartment dwellers.
Health and nutritionIn captivity, Pionus parrots are prone to obesity, vitamin A deficiency, and aspergillosis. Luckily, these conditions (except aspergillosis) are easily prevented with the correct diet and sufficient amount of exercise. A Pionus parrot's diet should consist of a good parrot mix which includes formulated food, a variety of seeds, and dried fruit. Along with this, provide a daily supplement of fresh fruits and vegetables (apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes, oranges, bananas, mangos, papayas, strawberries and blueberries, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini). Avoid avocado as it can be poisonous to birds!
Pionus parrot cageAn ideal Pionus parrot's cage should be 39 to 59 inches high (100 to 150 cm) and have floor space of 23 x 39 inches (60 x 100 cm). The minimum cage size is 24 x 24 x 32 inches (62 x 62 x 83 cm). 3/4" bar spacing is recommended, although larger individuals can do well with 1" bar spacing. The cage should provide room for lots of movement and all the necessary accessories such as perches, food dishes and a variety of playthings. The latter can include climbing ropes, chains, bells, parrot swings and other bird toys including wooden ones. A playpen is ideal for playtime outside of the cage, which should take place on a daily basis.
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