Lilac-Crowned Amazon Parrot (Finsch's Amazon): Bird Species Profile

Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

Lilac-crowned amazon
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In general, Amazon parrots can be demanding, aggressive birds, but that is not the case with the lilac-crowned Amazon species. It is a smaller Amazon that is relatively gentle with quiet manners. It many ways, it is a better pet than the more showy species, although it is not as talkative. For a member of the Amazon family, its colors are more muted, but it is still beautiful and makes a magnificent companion bird for those experienced in parrot care.

Species Overview

Common Names: Lilac-crowned Amazon parrot, Finsch's parrot

Scientific Name: Amazona finschi

Adult Size: On the small side for Amazon parrots, they reach about 13 inches

Life Expectancy: In captivity, 60-plus years

Origin and History

The lilac-crowned Amazon parrot is native to the Pacific coast of Mexico. Its preferred habitat is humid pine or oak forests up to an elevation of about 6,000 feet. It is named Finsch's parrot after the German naturalist and explorer Otto Finsch.

Wild populations are declining due to habitat loss and illegal capture for the pet trade. There are fewer than 10,000 birds remaining in the wild.
Flocks of feral birds exist in California, both in Orange County and in the San Gabriel mountains. In 2014, the International Union for Conservation of Nature added the species to the endangered list.

Temperament

Lilac-crowned Amazon parrots are curious and active birds by nature. Like all parrots—and Amazon parrots in particular—these birds need plenty of mental stimulation to keep them healthy and happy.

Lilac-crowned Amazon parrots form strong bonds with their owners and must have ample daily social interaction in order to thrive.

Like many parrots, lilac-crowned Amazons may go through a hormonal bluffing or biting stage as they reach sexual maturity. This seemingly aggressive period can last for a few weeks or a couple of years. This temporary period can be stressful for handlers, which is why this species pairs best with experienced bird owners.

This species is more subdued than other Amazons, so it is generally not as loud. An intelligent species, they can learn to talk. It may also call out loudly as an alarm when it perceives danger or sees strangers approaching.

Speech and Vocalizations

Although they are not renowned for their talking ability, lilac-crowned Amazon parrots can learn an impressively large vocabulary of words and phrases. As the bird hears repetitive sounds, and it spends time around you, it will pick up a couple of words. They do have loud natural calls, but these are not often heard.

Lilac-Crowned Amazon Parrot Colors and Markings

Lilac-crowned Amazon parrots are predominantly a brilliant green color with a red blaze on their forehead that transitions to an iridescent lilac-colored patch on the backs of their heads and necks. They have hints of red and blue in their flight feathers and have horn-colored beaks and bluish flesh-colored feet.

This species very closely resembles the red-crowned Amazon parrot, but the crown is a less vibrant purple-lilac rather than bright red, and it has a slightly longer tail. 

Males and females of this species are identical in color and markings. To determine the sex, the bird would need genetic or surgical sexing.

Caring for the Lilac-Crowned Amazon Parrot

Kept as pets since the 1800s, lilac-crowned Amazon parrots make loving companions for experienced bird owners. Their beauty, charm, and intelligence have helped them to remain among the most popular Amazon parrot species.

Like all Amazon parrots, this species requires a spacious cage (24 inches by 36 inches by 48 inches) that gives it room to exercise. Physical activity reduces its risk of obesity. The cage should be fitted with a playpen at the top, and at least one other playpen in the home for its daily, out-of-cage excursions. 

All Amazon parrots thrive on social interaction, and they need it in healthy doses to remain healthy and happy. Lilac-crowned Amazons live in small flocks in the wild. In captivity, it is up to you and your family to become that flock. A neglected parrot grows lonely and will exhibit destructive behavior patterns and depression. Set aside several hours each day for one-on-one interaction and bonding time with your bird.

Like other Amazons, the lilac-crowned enjoys the water and needs a shower at least once each week. If you do not provide a shower but give it a bowl with water, it will likely bathe itself.

Like most other parrots, if you adopt a lilac-crowned Amazon, expect to care for a creature that has the intellect and emotional IQ of a human toddler. These birds can live more than 60 years if properly cared for, so adopting one is not a commitment to be taken lightly.

Common Health Problems

The lilac-crowned Amazon is prone to obesity; pay close attention to the amount and types of food offered daily.

Other conditions that can affect lilac-crowned Amazon parrots include: 

  • Polyomavirus, a viral illness that can cause anorexia, lethargy, weight loss, and death
  • Chlamydiosis, a bacterial infection with symptoms including low appetite, fluffed feathers, and nasal discharge 
  • Vitamin-A deficiency, a result of inadequate nutrients in its diet

Diet and Nutrition

In the wild, the lilac-crowned Amazon consumes flowers, seeds, tree fruits, berries, new leaves, and grain and fruit crops.

Like all Amazon parrots, lilac-crowned Amazons do best on a high-quality pelleted diet supplemented with seed mix and daily servings of fresh bird-safe fruits and vegetables. A fresh and varied diet will help ensure that your bird maintains top nutrition and health.

Specially formulated pellets are an ideal food and should represent about 75 to 80 percent of the bird’s diet. Fruits, vegetables, and greens should account for about 20 to 25 percent of the daily diet. Seeds and nuts are high-fat foods that you can offer as occasional treats. Start by giving your bird 3/4 cup of pellet-based parrot mix and a 1/4 cup of fruits and vegetables daily, then adjust according to their appetite.

Exercise

Amazon parrots are prone to excess weight gain, they must be allowed room to exercise every day. If you want a lilac-crowned Amazon, you should be able to give it a minimum of 3 to 4 hours of supervised playtime outside of its cage per day. This will allow the bird to burn excess calories and stretch its muscles, and help it get essential mental stimulation.

Make sure to provide a variety of wooden toys for the bird to chew on, as well as sturdy perches and foot toys for them to grip. Without these objects, your furniture may become vulnerable to this bird's natural inclination to chew.

Pros
  • Social and friendly

  • Intelligent, can learn to talk and do tricks

  • Smallest and quietest of the Amazons

Cons
  • Difficult to breed in captivity, birds for sale may be illegally captured black-market birds

  • Requires at least 3 to 4 hours of supervised out-of-cage time

Where to Adopt or Buy a Lilac-Crowned Amazon Parrot

The bird does not breed well in captivity, so it is a safe bet that smuggled birds (illegally captured) are circulating through the pet trade. If you are a would-be owner, consider that the bird you are looking for may be procured unlawfully. Some breeders may have breeding success, so take a close look at those breeders before deciding to buy. The average price of a lilac-crowned Amazon is $1,800.

Some online resources where you can find lilac-crowned Amazons include:

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

Here are some other Amazon parrot species you might want to check out when making your decision on a pet: 

Otherwise, take a look at all of our other large parrot species profiles.