The lilac-crowned Amazon parrot isn't as vibrantly colored as some other members of the Amazon family, but it can be a very good companion bird. Amazon parrots as a group can be demanding, aggressive birds, but the lilac-crowned is a relatively gentle species with quiet manners, which can make it a better pet than the more showy species.
The lilac-crowned Amazon parrot also goes by the name Finsch's parrot, after German naturalist and explorer Otto Finsch.
The taxonomical name for the lilac-crowned Amazon parrot is Amazona finschi.
Origin and History
The lilac-crowned Amazon parrot is native to the Pacific coast of Mexico. Its preferred habitat is humid pine-oak forests up to an elevation of about 6,000 feet.
Over the last 10 years, wild populations have declined more than 30 percent due to habitat loss and illegal capture for the pet trade. It is thought that fewer than 10,000 birds remain in the wild. Wild populations are considered vulnerable, and in 2014 the species was placed on the Endangered list by the IUCN. The bird does not breed well in captivity, so an ongoing (and illegal) trade in smuggled birds for the pet trade continues to threaten the wild population—a fact that would-be owners should consider.
Breeding populations of feral birds can be found in California, both in Orange County and in the San Gabriel mountains.
Lilac-crowned Amazons are on the small side for Amazon parrots. They normally reach an adult size of about 13 inches long from the beak to the tip of the tail feathers.
A lilac-crowned Amazon parrot can routinely live 60+ years in captivity.
Lilac-crowned Amazon parrots are curious and active birds by nature. Like all parrots—and the various species of Amazon parrots in particular—these birds need plenty of mental stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. Lilac-crowned Amazon parrots insist on forming strong bonds with their owners and must be provided with an adequate amount of daily social interaction in order to thrive.
Like many parrots, lilac-crowned Amazons may go through a hormonal bluffing stage as they reach sexual maturity. For this reason, they are recommended for experienced bird owners.
Although not as renowned as talkers, lilac-crowned Amazon parrots can learn an impressively large vocabulary of words and phrases.
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.
Caring for the Lilac-Crowned Amazon Parrot
Kept as pets since the 1800's, 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 that gives it room to exercise and avoid obesity. The cage should be fitted with a playpen at the top, and at least one other playpen in the home should be provided to give the bird exercise during its daily out-of-cage excursions.
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 such objects, your furniture may become vulnerable to this bird's instincts.
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, and in captivity, it is up to you and your family to become that flock. A parrot that is neglected grows lonely and will exhibit destructive behavior patterns and emotional depression, which can play out in a wide range of physical symptoms and behaviors. It's important for owners of a lilac-crowned Amazon parrot to set aside a period of time each day (3 to 4 hours) for one-on-one interaction with their bird. This will help to establish, then maintain, a healthy bond.
While hand-fed Amazon parrots normally make loving, affectionate pets, many go through an aggressive stage during adolescence that can become more than some owners can tolerate.
While the phase does pass, it can sometimes last for up to two years. Potential owners should remember that if they adopt a lilac-crowned Amazon, they are taking on the care of a creature that is every bit as intelligent and emotional as a human toddler. These birds can live in excess of 60 years if properly cared for, so adopting one is not a commitment to be taken lightly.
Like other Amazons, the lilac-crowned enjoys water and needs a shower at least once each week. Unless offered a shower bath, these birds are likely to do themselves in the water bowl.
Feeding the Lilac-Crowned Amazon Parrot
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.
Amazon parrots are prone to excess weight gain, so it's important that they are 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 outside of its cage per day. This will allow the bird to burn excess calories and stretch its muscles, on top of providing essential mental stimulation and bonding time with its owner.
Common Health Issues
Amazon parrots including the lilac-crowned can be prone to obesity, so pay attention to the amount and types of food offered daily. Other diseases/conditions that affect Amazon parrots include:
- Polyomavirus (which can cause anorexia, lethargy, weight loss, and death)
- Chlamydiosis (symptoms include low appetite, fluffed feathers, and nasal discharge
- Vitamin-A deficiency (if the diet is inadequate)
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: