An Amazon parrot is a classification of several different kinds of parrots that hail from Central and South America. There are more than 30 species of Amazons; 10 types are common as pets. Most Amazon parrots have a green body. Depending on the species, they can have distinct feather colorings on their head that include red, lilac, yellow, purple, blue, and more. Some display various colors on their shoulders, tail feathers, and beak.
These medium-to-large birds can live for decades with good care. They require consistent attention, a varied diet, space for exercise, and training, especially if you want a less noisy, gentle bird. Several species are pretty good talkers and mimics, too.
Common Names: Double yellow-headed Amazon, yellow-naped Amazon, yellow-fronted Amazon, blue-fronted Amazon, orange-winged Amazo, green-cheeked Amazons, Panama Amazon, white-fronted Amazon (spectacled Amazon), mealy Amazon, red-lored Amazon, lilac-crowned Amazon
Scientific Name: Amazona
Adult Size: Roughly 10 to 20 inches from head to tail (varies by species)
Lifespan: 30+ years
Amazon Parrot Behavior and Temperament
Amazons are brilliant and playful birds that love being the center of attention. They need lots of affection and time with their owners. They are curious and athletic, and they seem to enjoy entertaining their owners with clownish antics. Amazons that have been hand-tamed from a young age typically are comfortable with handling and make loving, affectionate pets.
However, Amazon parrots can be somewhat moody as they reach sexual maturity and might become aggressive if not trained and handled correctly. This is called a bluffing stage. While the phase does pass, it can sometimes last for up to two years. During the bluffing stage, Amazons might bite and show other aggressive behaviors. It's more apparent in males, and some birds act out more than others. Because of this, you might want to consider a female parrot or an older bird.
Owners can learn to read their Amazon's body language to understand its mood. For instance, a parrot with narrowing pupils and raised head feathers might be overexcited and prone to biting if it's not given a chance to calm down.
In general, most Amazon species can learn to talk. As for other vocalizations, Amazons can be quite loud and chatter frequently. They are also good screechers, though not as loud as cockatoos or macaws. These loud vocalizations are how birds communicate with their flock—usually indicating danger, anger, excitement, or calling for attention.
Except to spend several hours per day interacting with your bird, as well as feeding it and maintaining its habitat. Amazons can become bored, depressed, and destructive if they're left alone too much. They can enjoy the company of other birds, though they must be introduced slowly and carefully to make sure they're a good match. They also often can coexist with other well-mannered household pets, including cats and dogs, but they should be supervised.
In general, Amazons are around 10 to 20 inches long measured from head to tail. They weigh on average between 1 and 2 pounds.
An Amazon parrot's cage should be as large as you can fit and afford. At minimum, the cage should be 2 feet by 3 feet by 4 feet, but the bigger the better. Some owners even dedicate small rooms as free-flight aviaries for their pet birds. Make sure the cage bar spacing is narrow enough that your bird can't get any body parts stuck.
In the enclosure, including toys, swings, ladders, and perches of various sizes. Amazons like to chew, so make sure all items in the cage are safe and nontoxic. Moreover, include food and water dishes positioned in a spot where bird droppings won't fall in them.
Specific Substrate Needs
Many owners line the cage floor with dye-free paper, paper towels, or a similar material. Cages with grates allow waste to drop through, so your bird isn't walking in droppings. However, if the cage floor is a grate, make sure your bird has access to a flat surface somewhere to rest its feet.
What Do Amazon Parrots Eat & Drink?
Amazon parrots eat a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and vegetation in the wild. Pet Amazons should eat a pelleted bird food, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, every day. Discuss the quantity and variety with your vet, as nutritional requirements can vary based on size, age, and activity level.
Birds like to graze throughout the day, so place a day's worth of pellets in a chew-proof and tip-proof dish in the cage. Stainless steel dishes that attach to the side of the cage are a good option. Then, discard any uneaten pellets after 24 hours before adding the next day's portion. Fresh foods should be fed in a separate dish, ideally in the morning when your bird is waking up and hungry. Remove them after a few hours to prevent spoilage.
Finally, make sure your parrot always has access to fresh water. You can either use a water dish or a bottle that attaches to the side of the enclosure. Many birds like to dunk food in water dishes or even bathe in them, so bottles are typically easier to keep sanitary. But make sure your bird knows how to drink from the bottle before removing its water dish. Refresh the water daily.
Common Health Problems
Amazons are relatively healthy, long-lived birds. But they are commonly susceptible to the following conditions:
- Feather picking (plucking feathers due to boredom, skin problems, and other issues)
- Hypocalcemia (low calcium)
- Liver disease
- Respiratory diseases and other infections
- Household injuries (such as from ceiling fans, toxic fumes, electrical wires, and more)
Training Your Amazon Parrot
Hand-taming is the primary training most owners do with their birds to get them acclimated to household life. Allow your parrot to settle for at least a few days after bringing it home. Sit by it and talk to it, so it becomes comfortable with your presence. Start to offer treats through the cage bars to encourage the parrot to come toward you.
After it’s comfortable with this, hold a perch in front of the bird’s stomach, and give the command “step up.” You can very gently press the perch into its stomach and hold a treat in front of the perch to encourage it to step up. Always hold the perch steady, and pause the training if your bird ever becomes stressed.
Finally, once your Amazon steps up onto a perch comfortably, give the same “step up” command while holding your hand in front of the bird’s stomach. Offer treats and praise to make the handling a positive experience.
Because Amazons love to eat and are prone to obesity, they need lots of exercise to keep them healthy. Physical activity also provides essential mental stimulation for their intelligent brains. An Amazon needs at least three hours of out-of-cage time per day where it can move freely and stretch its muscles.
Keep toys both in and out of the cage to encourage activity. A bird play gym outside of the cage is a great option to interest your bird and get it moving. Puzzle toys also can offer both mental stimulation and exercise.
Most Amazon parrots love to bathe. And regular baths help to keep the bird's feathers in good shape. You can spritz your bird with warm water from a spray bottle, or offer it a shallow dish that it can splash around in. Some birds even enjoy getting in the shower with their owners. Offer a bath a few times a week (sometimes your bird might not be interested), and make sure your bird never gets chilled with wet feathers.
Furthermore, Amazons typically need periodic nail trims because they don't wear down their nails naturally like they would in the wild. A vet can trim your bird's nails for you and teach you how to do it at home.
Your primary monthly cost for your Amazon will be its diet. Expect to spend around $15 to $25, though this can vary depending on the types of food you offer. You’ll also have to periodically replace toys and other worn items in your bird’s habitat, costing around $10 to $25 on average. Plus, make sure to budget for routine vet visits, such as wellness checkups and nail trims, and emergency care.
Pros & Cons of Keeping an Amazon Parrot as a Pet
Amazon parrots can be very fun, entertaining, and affectionate pets. Most are quite social with their owners. However, they are a long-term commitment, which might not work for everyone’s situation. And they need a lot of mental stimulation and exercise to keep them happy and healthy.
Similar Pet Birds to the Amazon Parrot
If you're interested in Amazon parrots, check out:
Otherwise, check out other large birds that can be your new pet.
Purchasing or Adopting Your Amazon Parrot
It’s best to go to a reputable breeder or rescue organization to acquire an Amazon parrot. You might see them in some pet shops, but those shops aren’t always able to give good information on the bird’s health, history, and temperament. Amazons can range in cost from around $100 and $1,000 on average, though this can vary widely depending on factors such as the bird’s age. Adoption fees are typically less than breeder costs.
Local avian veterinarians might be able to direct you to a good Amazon parrot breeder or rescue. These birds are often seen for adoption because owners can’t keep them for their full lifespan. The main benefit of going to a breeder is you’ll likely have a wider selection of younger birds.
Aim to visit with the bird before bringing it home. Look for a bird that is active, alert, and in good body condition. Ask the seller about the bird’s daily routine, diet, health, level of tameness, and any other questions you might have before committing.
Furthermore, in some Amazon species you can tell the males and females apart on sight while others require a DNA test. If you're interested in keeping more than one bird of the same species, ask the seller or a vet to confirm their sex, so you don’t have any unexpected breeding.
Does an Amazon parrot make a good pet for kids?
Amazon parrots can be good pets for older children who are able to handle them with care. It's usually not ideal to put adolescent Amazons that might be aggressive with children.
Are Amazon parrots hard to take care of?
Amazons require a moderate amount of upkeep that includes feeding them a varied diet and giving them several hours of attention per day.
Do Amazon parrots recognize their owners?
Amazon parrots will learn to recognize their owners. They typically enjoy spending time with their favorite humans and even performing entertaining antics.
Amazon Care. Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital.