Size, personality, talking ability
Audio clip, lifespan
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| The Amazon can mimic human speech almost as well as the African grey parrot. (Cyan, blue-front Amazon. Owner: Jill Warner.)|
The Amazon is the quintessential parrot: boisterous and talkative with plenty of 'tude. Most Amazons are green, with red, yellow, blue or white feathers on the head, wings or tail to differentiate the 27 species. The most unusual Amazon is the rare Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis), a cockatoo-size bird with purple breast feathers found only on the small Caribbean island of Dominica. Most Amazons, including the dozen or so species kept as pets, come from South and Central America. These include the double yellow-headed (Amazona ochrocephala oratrix), blue-fronted (Amazona aestiva), yellow-nape (Amazona ochrocephala auropalliata) and mealy (Amazona farinosa) Amazons.
Countries of origin:
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grand Cayman Island, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Medium to large with stocky build, relatively short wings and square tail. Less than 10 inches long and 200 grams (white-fronted, Amazona albifrons) to almost 18 inches and 800 grams, or almost two pounds (Imperial Amazon).
| Amazons love to bathe. (Echo, double-yellow-head. Owner: Roy Berger.)|
Energetic, curious, affectionate. Can be stubborn and occasionally aggressive. Mealies are considered the most even tempered. Voice ranges from soft growls to ear-splitting shrieks.
Considered second only to the African grey. Best bets: double yellow-headed, yellow-nape or blue-fronted.
Double yellow-headed Amazon saying "Pretty girl."
(Thanks to the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation.)
50-60 years, up to 100.
What owners say:
I WATCH THE NEWS while getting ready for work and while brushing my teeth one morning I heard, "Next up, the operator of a local bird rescue group will tell us what to do, and what not to do, for our feathered friends." Cut to commercial. I'd been looking for a bird for about a year, reading about different breeds, visiting breeders when I could, before I settled on just the right bird. But I also volunteer for a dog rescue group and I wanted to adopt a rescue bird. I just didn't know there were any rescue groups in my area. I watched, I got the Web address and that afternoon, I visited. The two birds I'd come to see, an African grey and a cockatoo who both sounded perfect from their description on the Web site, had already been adopted. Oh well, I was already there, I might as well take a look around.
I walked by Amazon Alley, where all the cages contained different kinds of Amazon parrots, and was headed instead for a really beautiful yellow-crested when I heard, "Hello! Hello!" A bird that looked like a cross between a yellow nape and a blue front was hanging upside down on the front of her cage and staring at me intently. "Hi," I said. "Hey! Pick me up!" she demanded. I spent two hours with Boo that day, and four and a half hours the following Saturday, and then four hours the Saturday after that, and...the bird rescue place had a waiting period, and I couldn't stand going more than a few days without seeing Boo. The first time she got on my shoulder she leaned close to my ear and said, "I love you". Every morning and night, when I feed her a fruit and vegetable mash I sit by her cage and listen while she tells herself, "Oh, that's good. Mmmmm. Good stuff." When she's done she wipes her beak all over her perch, her cage bars, and her toys. Saturday is our day to shower together. She sits on the bar above the shower door until I'm done, then I lift her down into the shower with me and she screeches and sings with her wings fanned out to catch the water. Later we go into the back yard while she dries herself in the sun and preens until each feather is just so. I hadn't been looking for an Amazon; from what I'd read one wouldn't be a good fit. But I can't imagine not sharing my house with Boo. --Scott Carpenter
| Amazons have human lifespans, capable of living up to 100 years. (Sammy, lilac-crown Amazon. Owner: Victoria Bryant.)|
AT THE PET STORE where I first saw her, Lola, a blue-front Amazon, had no tail feathers and constantly circled the top of the cage. The shop keeper recommended her sister to me, but Lola had me at hello. She was 10 months old and they sold her to me for half price because of her age and condition. They told me not to play with her for at least a week and then only play on the floor, since she had no tail feathers for balance. Immediately I took out the big fat perch that came in her cage and replaced it with a Comfy Perch and played with her on the floor until she knew she was safe. She grew back all of her feathers, regained her confidence and has been the best thing in my life since (other than my husband).
My pet sitter, who boards in her home, says that Lola knows everyone's names in the room that she stays in and says good night to each bird every night by name. Lola tells me "Okay, Mommy, be a good girl, bye" on my way out the door in the mornings. She loves to shower with me every morning. She amazes me everyday with something new. This morning she sneezed just like me and asked, "Are you okay?"
--Tammy Miner/Masch, Oakland, Calif.
KNOW THIS ABOUT blue-front Amazons: They are stand up comics for sure! The world is their stage and all should observe. My blue-front, Leopold, is a natural ham and great entertainer. Always eager for a laugh out of his humans, this one. He leads us through this life always laughing, and I shall always love him for that. Heaven lent me a feathered comedian and I am grateful.
--Beth Yale, Georgia
I GREW UP with a double-yellow head that had at one time belonged to my grandmother. Polly lived to be 70 years old and broke my heart when she died and I was a teenager. That beautiful bird was my best friend and my joy. She was the source of all my art work, the welcome guest at every meal and I truly loved her. A year later my mother bought a new bird for me, another double-yellow head Amazon, named Clark. I had her for 27 years and she recently died of what the vet thought might have been cancer. I am still mourning her loss. I have had an Amazon for most of my 46 years on this earth and they are the greatest, most independent - and equally loving - birds I'll ever have the pleasure to know. I miss Clark more than most people that have passed away in my life. I know that sounds wrong but it is true. She was my baby. If anyone knows someone with an Amazon that needs a home they can contact me.--Maureen Gonzalez, email@example.com
I'VE HAD my female 17-year-old Amazon for two years and we have done very well together, which I've been told is amazing considering I am her third (and last I might add) owner. For the first year I had to really watch her with new people. She would lunge and sometimes even bite. She is much better now. Weather permitting I now take her with me everywhere. She loves going for car rides and hamming it up for people. --Wendy Bosma, Penticton, B.C., Canada
I GOT my 10-year-old blue-front Amazon, Jeoje, about 8 months ago from someone who no longer wanted him. He had been living in
a small cage; we have since purchased him a large King's cage, which he loves. I
have had much success in trick training him - he can now play basketball, swing
down a zip line, pull a wagon, lift an applause sign, and even say "hi," and "hello," and laugh, all on cue. Sometimes I think he is a cockatoo in an Amazon suit, as he loves to be cuddled anywhere on his body and will let anyone hold him. I've taken him to nursing homes and schools, where he performs with endless energy. I can't imagine life without him. --Nick, New York
I ADOPTED 8-year-old Freud from his second home. He is the most amazing bird I've ever seen. He talks up a storm; a lot of it is not clear. He doesn't like to be touched but does request occasional chin and head rubs by putting his head down. He never bites but does bluff occasionally when on top of my macaw's cage or if you
attempt to give unsolicited head rubs! He is also
potty trained which he seems to have done himself.
He is extremely social and has always been flighted. If someone new
comes into the house he flies over and introduces himself and talks their
leg off! We have a two-story house and my son had someone over playing video games. Freud could hear the stranger talking and promptly flew up and introduced himself! I am so glad that I adopted him. --Jeri Fontenot, Dallas
BIGBIRD, my double-yellow-head Amazon, is a chewer. She doesn't pull her feathers but she chews them up. A funny story: BigBird knows how to answer a knock on the door. Couple of months ago my daughter had come over and we were in the kitchen talking, BigBird kept talking and singing, she just got louder and louder and kept saying, "Grandma, Grandma, help." When I walked out into the dining room there stood this huge man, well over six feet. He looked at me and I looked at him and I think we both wanted to run. I said, "Uh, did you knock?" He said, "Yes, twice. And twice you said, "Come in." Finally the lightbulb came on and I looked at Bigbird as her cage is right near the door and the poor man said, "No, oh no, don't tell me the bird said come in!" Anyhow, he was looking for my husband. He said he will never knock on my door again, poor guy, he was so embarrassed. --Jean Garcia, Triangle, Va.
I COULDN'T IMAGINE life without Goofy, my blue-front Amazon. He was wild caught and it took lots of love to undo this damage, but we did it. He barks and talks to our dogs. When we cry he cries. When we laugh he laughs. I've had him for 15 years; he has seen my children grow up. I feel a bond so deep with this bird and wouldn't take all the money in the world for him.--Sharon Crockett, Hammond, La.
| Amazons often readily accept companions. |
I INHERITED MY "SLUG," a yellow-nape Amazon, when he was 5 years old. He was a woman's bird and it took a lot of work to break him from biting me. However, we got past
that. Now he interacts with most anyone verbally and will accept food
from most people. He imitates 15 different
cat sounds, which confuses the cats to no end. He has a voracious
appetite for veggies and potatoes but prefers prime rib and
lasagna. He will lie on his back and let me toss him up and he flips
to flutter back into my hand. In the shower, he loves to dive under a full stream of water and
sing his heart out. He is a fantastic companion, needing only a good diet
and friendship from me. One word to newer owners: the bigger the
bird, the bigger the mess. I also recommend a younger
bird, as you can grow and learn together; with a lifespan of 50 to 75
years, you'll be together a long time. Feel free to contact me for info.--BillKist@aics.net
WE GOT ROCKY on 10/15/85, the day Rock Hudson died. The movie
Rocky was a big favorite of my brother's, and this
white-fronted Amazon was the one with the most personality (read
"feisty") being offered. He let me know that he was the one and he was
coming home with me. I sent out baby announcements. I learned to feed him his gruel
mash. I got used to birdie poop. I baked chicken
liver souffle for the cat, Tami, and cornbread treats for Rocky. An odd couple, a cat and a bird, but they kept each other company and Rocky learned how to purr. His vocabulary grew in leaps and bounds. My brother taught Rocky, "Let's go Mets!" It was the year they won
the series and Rocky and I sat on the couch together chanting, "Let's go
Mets!" I decided Rocky needed a friend, company when I was at work. We got Zeus, a sweet baby Senegal and another chapter of Rocky's life began. He and his buddy are inseparable.--Doris Cote, Fair Lawn, N.J., firstname.lastname@example.org
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