Orange-winged Amazon parrot - Amazona amazonica

Orange-winged AmazonOrigins: Northern South America east of the Andes, and in the Caribbean on Trinidad and Tobago.

Length: 12in  (30cm).

Appearance: Predominantly green, with an orange area visible in the flight and tail feathers. Variable amount of yellow coloration on the crown  and cheeks. Bill is horn-coloured, with a darker tip.

Similar species: Can be confused with the blue-fronted Amazon (A. aestiva), but this species is significantly larger, with the orange areas being replaced by red, while the bill is blackish overall in this case. 

Finding a young bird which will be suitable as a pet may be harder than locating adult breeding stock. This is because Amazons have a fixed breeding season, with chicks only likely to be available from late summer through to early winter.

Noise rating: Loud and vocal, and so not the ideal choice as a pet in a flat with thin walls! These parrots will call regularly, usually at first light and again at dusk, with pairs becoming especially noisy as the time for egg-laying approaches.

Destructive capabilities: In line with those of other larger parrots. Wood in the aviary must be protected from their bills, by mesh or other means, with a plentiful supply of perches also being provided to divert their attention from the framework of the structure. Pet birds must be watched in the home, because they can inflict serious damage in a short time on furniture if left unsupervised in a room. Provide branches cut from fruit trees which have not been sprayed with chemicals, for gnawing purposes, and provide a selection of safe toys.

Orange-winged Amazon parrotSuitability:
Young birds usually develop into affectionate companions, and they can prove quite talented as talkers, but their temperament is likely to become more unpredictable from the age of three or four years old, as they attain sexual maturity.

Never choose a adult bird as a pet - it will remain shy. Wait and save for a genuine youngster, distinguishable by its dark rather than orange-coloured eyes. Pairs will live well in an outdoor aviary, needing to be kept on their own for breeding purposes.

Care:  A quality seed mix can be used as the basis for the diet of these parrots, although pelleted foods are an alternative, but not all orange-winged Amazons will eat the pellets readily. In either case however, a selection of greenstuff, fruit and vegetables should also be supplied daily, sprinkled regularly with a multi-pupose supplement as recommended on the packaging. Cuttlefish bone and coarse grit should also be provided.

In temperate areas, take care not to introduce individuals birds which have lived indoors into a garden aviary until the weather is mild. Keep them housed in the aviary shelter for the first few days to be sure that they are eating properly. It may be better to bring them inside again for the next winter. Then, after being released back into the aviary during the following spring, they should be properly acclimatised, and able to stay outdoors throughout the year.  A flight of at least 3.6m (12ft) is to be recommended for them.

Orange-winged Amazon preeningBreeding: DNA sexing, using a feather sample, is necessary to sex these parrots.  Adult birds may taken two or three years to settle in their quarters before they will start nesting. Even so, they should be provided with a stout nest box made of 2.5cm (1in) timber, about 30cm (12in) square and 46cm (18in) from the outset, as they may choose to roost within. When pairing these parrots, introduce them carefully to ensure they are compatible and will not fight, placing them in their quarters at the same time.

Breeding data: 3-4 eggs. Incubation lasts 26 days. Young fledge from about eight weeks onwards.

Colour variants: Exceedingly rare. A lutino (red-eyed yellow) example of this species used to be kept at Paignton Zoo in Devon, England.

Health concerns: An inadequate diet, with insufficient fruit and greenstuff, is likely to predispose to respiratory illnesses, being a reflection of a low Vitamin A level. Other associated signs may include runny eyes and blocked nostrils.

Potential lifespan: 50 years or longer.