The dusky pionus parrot is a medium-sized parrot known to have a gentle disposition, making it an excellent choice for first-time parrot owners and families. A quieter bird than other parrots, it is a good option for parrot owners living in apartments or condos. This is not a vibrantly colored bird, but its grayish tone is highlighted with subtle but beautiful shades of blue, violet, and pink, as well as flashes of bright red.
Common Names: Dusky pionus parrot, dusky parrot, violet pionus
Scientific Name: Pionus fuscus
Adult Size: 9 and 10 inches in length, weighing 7 to 8 ounces
Life Expectancy: 25 years, although it may live up to 40 years
Origin and History
The South American dusky pionus parrot has a wide range in the wild, living in Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and parts of Colombia. It prefers to live in forested areas where it can hide and forage among the foliage and brush, shielded from predators and the elements. Captive breeding programs have made dusky pionus parrots available throughout the world.
The dusky pionus has a reputation for being a quiet, laid-back pet. It can be shy or standoffish but will get affectionate with its human family. The dusky pionus parrot enjoys spending time with its family members, so if you are considering this bird, make sure that you'll able to be at home with it for a good portion of each day.
This bird is less likely than other parrots to bond exclusively to one person only, especially if it is socialized with all members of the family at an early age.
This bird learns tricks with positive reinforcement. Training sessions are a fun, engaging experience for them.
Speech and Vocalizations
While the dusky pionus parrot will sometimes learn to say a word or two, it is not known for being a highly vocal, talking bird. However, with extensive training, it can learn to mimic 10 to 20 words.
Dusky Pionus Parrot Colors and Markings
The dusky pionus parrot is a dark-colored bird overall with dark grayish-brown feathers covering most of its body. In proper lighting, the true beauty of their plumage becomes apparent. They have brilliant blue tails, accented with blue on the edges of their wings, a speckling of white feathers on their necks, a reddish/pink tinge to their breasts and bellies, and bright red under their tails.
There are no obvious ways to distinguishing males from females. Only surgical sexing or genetic testing can determine the sex of the bird.
Caring for the Dusky Pionus Parrot
A dusky pionus parrot is generally easier to care for and less demanding than many of the other parrot species.
This bird will need plenty of room—a large parrot cage or aviary is the best environment (up to 5 feet tall and 3 feet by 2 feet, long and wide). The more space you provide this bird, the better. They will do fine in a medium-sized parrot cage (3 feet high, 2 feet long and wide) but be prepared to give them plenty of exercise time out of the cage.
Common Health Problems
Although it is a relatively healthy species, the dusky pionus parrot is known to be more prone to aspergillosis infection than other species. The main symptom of this infection is heavy, difficult breathing. This fungal infection can be fatal, but good hygiene and a varied, high-quality diet can help prevent illness. If your bird develops aspergillosis, it is treatable with antifungal drugs if caught early.
Dusky pionus parrots may be prone to obesity, primarily if confined in smaller cages or if they do not get sufficient out-of-cage exercise time.
Diet and Nutrition
In the wild, this species eats fruits, berries, seeds, blossoms, and corn from farmland. The dusky pionus parrot survives best in captivity when it gets a well-formulated commercial seed and pellet mix that is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
Birds need a range of vitamins and minerals that will help support immunity and essential life functions. A varied diet also helps keep your parrot interested in eating. If the bird gets the same foods every day, it can get bored and depressed.
Eighty percent of your parrot’s diet should consist of seeds, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables; 20 percent of its diet should consist of grains and pellets. Every morning, offer your parrot fresh food. Make sure to give it enough food to last throughout the day. Every bird is different; give as much as it will eat, which may be a 1/4 to 1 cup of food. At dusk or dinner, provide more fresh food.
Avoid fatty foods; these birds are susceptible to becoming overweight. For example, avoid giving banana chips. Birds love this treat, but it is fried in fat and can lead to obesity.
Dusky pionus parrots should be encouraged to come out of the cage and exercise for a minimum of three or four hours each day. This is essential for birds kept in small- to medium-sized cages. Set up a safe, bird-proof play area for your bird and supervise it closely during playtime to prevent accidents and injury.
If you provide a dusky pionus with lots of toys, such as swings, mirrors, and bells, it can keep itself nicely entertained, requiring less interaction. Provide a playpen or play gym perch in the home for the bird to use during its out-of-cage exercise time. Dusky pionus parrots are particularly fond of swings.
Good first-time parrot
Can learn a few words
Not too noisy, better option for apartment living
May act subdued, shy, or standoffish
Requires at least three to four hours of exercise, mental stimulation
Where to Adopt or Buy a Dusky Pionus Parrot
You can find dusky pionus parrots from a reputable breeder registry or adoption organization. They can cost $200 to $2,000. The price goes up if it was hand-raised or sold as a pair. Rescues or adoption agencies may get this bird given up by owners unable to care for them. Some online sources you can try include:
If you're going the breeder route, ask the breeder how long it has been breeding and working with the species. Tour its facility. When perusing its inventory, look for signs of good overall health of the flock. The birds should be active and alert with bright eyes, clean feathers, and full crops.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
If you’re interested in similar species, check out:
Otherwise, check out all of our other medium-sized pet bird profiles.