Basic Information Sheet: Amazon Parrot

Amazon parrot-Amazona spp.

Amazon Rivera

Natural History

Amazon parrots originate from a large portion of the Amazon Basin in South America although species-specific ranges vary. Habitats range from savannah, palm grove, scrub forest to rainforest.  Wild Amazon parrots are incredibly active, foraging and flying in flocks.

Amazon parrots are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list. Appendix I species are threatened with extinction, and commercial trade is prohibited and importation/exportation for scientific research requires special permits.


Class: Aves

Order: Psittaciformes

Genus: Amazona 27 species and many subspecies

Amazona finschi: Lilac-crowned Amazon parrot

Amazona auropalliata: Yellow-naped Amazon

Amazona amazonica: Orange-winged Amazon

A. ochrocephala oratrix: Double yellow-headed Amazon

A. aestiva: Blue-fronted Amazon

Physical description

  • Amazon parrots are stocky birds with rounded, short tails. Members of genus Amazona typically range from 12-15 in (30-38 cm) in length.
  • The plumage is mostly green but other colorful markings are seen in various species. For example, orange-winged Amazons have a large orange patch on the underside of their wings.
  • Amazon parrots are sexually monomorphic except for the rare yellow-lored Amazon (Amazona xantholora).


  • Amazons may be frugivores, florivores, and/or omnivores so free ranging birds feed on fruits, flowers, seeds, and sometimes insects.
  • Feed companion birds a varied diet to decrease the likelihood of obesity.
  • Since psittacine birds hull seeds before ingestion, they do not require grit. In fact, some individuals will overeat grit when ill putting them at risk for impaction.
  • All-seed diets are deficient in protein, vitamins, and minerals including calcium and vitamin A.
  • Amazon parrots are likely to gain weight with inactivity because of their hearty eating habits.


  • Provide frequent water baths or showers to maintain normal skin/feather quality.
  • Perch diameter should be should be approximately 1 in (2.5 cm).
  • Cage bar spacing should range from 0.75-1.0 in (1.9-2.5 cm) for most species. Larger Amazons may require 0.75-1.5 in (1.9-3.8 cm).
  • Activity is important for Amazon parrots to prevent obesity and secondary health problems.


  • Amazon parrots can be noisy.
  • Amazons are generally good family pets with a reasonable temperament, however behavior that may be perceived as aggression can be exhibited, particularly during the breeding season.
  • Amazons are typically extroverted birds that do not fixate on one person in the household. Social interaction is important for their well-being.
  • Foraging is an important part of normal daily parrot activity. Teach and encourage pet birds to play and forage.

Normal physiologic values

Temperature (average)*41.8°C107.1°F
Heart rate (beats/min)340-600
Respiration (breaths/min)15-45
Body weight (g)Orange-winged

Double yellow-head
300-360 (up to 490 recorded)
375-400 (up to 500 recorded)
480 (550-680 recorded)
450-545 (up to 650 recorded)
Mean life span (years)40-60
Sexual maturity4-6 years
Weaning age (days)90-120 – Parent- raised
75-90 – Hand-reared
Weaning age varies with the individual, and should never be based on a pre-determined time period.
Fledgling age (days)45-60
Mean incubation (days)28-29Incubation ranges from 24-29 depending on the species.
Average number of eggs laid3-4
Target environmental temperatureMimic natural environment.Household temperatures of 70-80°F (21-27°C) are generally acceptable, however healthy birds can tolerate hot and cold temperatures.

* Routine avian exam does not include measuring body temperature

Anatomy and physiology

  • Amazon parrots lack a preen or uropygial gland.
  • Amazon parrot plumage has a distinctive, musky odor.
  • Anatomic traits of Order Psittaciformes include:
    • Communication of the right and left nasal sinus
    • The only avian tongue with intrinsic muscles
    • Simply syrinx
    • Craniofacial hinge of beak is a synovial joint
    • Ceca absent
    • Gall bladder often absent
    • Zygodactyl foot: two toes pointed backward and two pointed forward


Amazons may be restrained by holding the head between index and middle fingers. Support the body with palm of the hand as well as the thumb and little finger.


Use a 25-gauge needle and 1 to 3-mL syringe to draw blood from the right jugular vein. Collection of up to 1% of body weight is acceptable in healthy patients.

Preventive medicine

  • Obtain a complete history and perform a thorough annual physical examination.
  • Establish baseline data with regular clinical testing (complete blood count, protein electrophoresis, and plasma biochemistries.
  • Ensure proper husbandry.
  • Recommend quarantine of newly acquired birds.
  • Perform additional testing for select diseases based on history and physical exam findings: avian polyomavirus and chlamydiosis.
  • Determine the origin and history of newly acquired sick birds to contain and prevent further spread of disease.
  • Birds housed in large groups or aviaries are at higher risk of Pacheco’s disease virus and use of the vaccine may be indicated.
  • The avian polyomavirus vaccine is recommended for breeding populations.


Intramuscular (IM)Reasonably safe, most accurate.
Inject middle of muscle mass.
Ideal location –Pectoral muscle mass
Subcutaneous (SC)Large volumes can be injected, poor absorption.Location: Inguinal or precrural fold
Intravenous (IV)Effective, narrow safety range.The right jugular vein or brachial vein are most commonly used.
Alternative option: superficial metatarsal vein.

Important medical conditions

Non-infectious diseasesInfectious diseaseSpecies-specific concern
Obesity, hepatic lipidosisChlamydiosis Epilepsy has been reported in red-lored Amazon parrots (Amazona autumnalis autumnalis)
Egg binding
Hypovitaminosis and secondary sinusitis
Hemoglobinuria is seen in Amazons with lead toxicity
Internal papillomatosis




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To cite this page:

Pollock C. Basic information sheet: Amazon parrot. January 7, 2012. LafeberVet Web site. Available at