Known by many as the gentle giant of Amazon parrots, the mealy Amazon is a docile, easy-to-train bird that can be an excellent pet. These beautiful, large birds may not have the flashy colors of other parrots, but their loving, friendly personality makes up for that. They are the right choice for bird owners who want a large parrot but would prefer one with a laid-back attitude.
Common Names: Mealy Amazon, mealy parrot, blue-crowned mealy parrot
Scientific Name: Amazona farinosa
Adult Size: 15 to 17 inches in length, weighing 1 to 2 pounds, sometimes more
Life Expectancy: Can live to 60 to 70 years
Origin and History
The mealy Amazon is native to Central America and South America. Their range extends from southern Mexico to parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. The birds call the woodlands and tropical rainforests of these areas home. Although, as farmers encroach on their habitat, they ravage farm fields as an easy source of food. Farmers consider Amazons to be pests.
This parrot lives in large flocks that can reach over 100 birds, though mating pairs will fly off to find a tree cavity to nest in for the breeding season.
Mealy Amazons are known to be the most gentle and docile of the Amazon parrots. They are affectionate when kept as pets and form strong bonds with their owners. This behavior stems from their instinct to create a monogamous, lifetime pairing with their mate.
Similarly, they love to interact with their human flock. Many owners say that the bird will simply wander around looking for someone who can give them attention. When they find that family member, they'll wait patiently to be picked up or played with.
Amazon parrots need social interaction to remain healthy and happy. Neglected birds can develop destructive behavior patterns and depression, which can manifest in various physical and emotional problems. These problems include biting and feather plucking.
Generally, they are not an aggressive bird. They're called "non-nippy Amazons" because they don't usually nip or bite. They tend to get along with other birds as well. However, many go through a hormonal bluffing stage during adolescence. Bluffing may cause aggressive tendencies that some owners can't handle. While the phase does pass, it can sometimes last for up to two years. For this reason, they are best suited for experienced bird owners.
Speech and Vocalizations
These birds are excellent talkers and can pick up a diverse vocabulary. It's quite comical to listen to them repeat phrases using different inflections every time.
When it comes to vocalizations, mealy Amazons are large, so their screams can be deafening and carry a long distance. Yet, they will not yell out as much as some feistier parrots.
Mealy Amazon Parrot Colors and Markings
Mealy Amazons are mostly green with darker shades toward the top of the body changing to a lighter lime green toward the tail. They are distinct from other parrots because of a grey-green pattern along the nape of the neck and back. It looks as if the bird was dusted with flour, which is how it gets the "mealy" name.
The species' other common name, blue-crowned parrot, is due to a blue patch that's on its crown. On some birds, this may be more of a purple color and some have a patch of yellow on their forehead.
These birds also have bursts of red and blue on the edges of their feathers and flesh-colored legs. Their beaks range from horn- or yellow-colored to dark gray, and they have a featherless white ring around the eyes.
Caring for Mealy Amazon Parrots
Overall, if you learn your bird's personality and work on forming a solid bond, a mealy Amazon can become a well-trained pet. Just be sure you can fully commit to its needs and can afford the costs associated with keeping a large parrot.
As this species is large, this bird will need a substantially sized cage. At a minimum, your bird should have a cage that is 3 feet wide and long and at least 5 or 6 feet tall. Amazon parrots are prone to excess weight gain, so they must be allowed room to exercise every day.
Routine bathing or misting with a shower head is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin. Allow the birds to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or gently dry the bird with a warm blow-dryer.
Do not clip the wing feathers excessively as heavy-bodied mealy Amazons often fall and injure themselves. You can trim the primary flight feathers to the point where the bird can glide to the floor.
Mealy Amazon owners need to set aside a period of time each day for one-on-one interaction with their bird. Not only does it help the bird remain tame, but it also establishes and maintains a healthy bond. Mostly, the bird just wants to be near you. This clinginess makes training easy; they love to sit on shoulders so they can be part of the action.
Common Health Problems
Amazons are relatively healthy, long-lived birds but are susceptible to some diseases and disorders:
- Feather-picking, which can lead to skin infections and balding
- Psittacosis, also called parrot fever, a disease caused by the chlamydia bacteria
- Poor eating habits and obesity
- Bacterial and fungal infections
Diet and Nutrition
Like all Amazon parrots, mealy Amazons do best on a high-quality pelleted diet, supplemented with daily servings of fresh bird-safe fruits and vegetables. Feed approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of pelleted food and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. A raw and varied diet will help ensure that your bird maintains top nutrition.
Give seeds and nuts as an occasional treat. Although they are a bird's favorite, they are loaded with fat and can lead to obesity if your bird becomes a picky eater and only wants seeds.
Never feed avocado, chocolate, rhubarb, alcohol, or coffee beans; these foods are toxic for your bird.
You should be able to offer a minimum of three to four hours of supervised, outside-of-cage time per day. This activity will allow the bird to burn excess calories and stretch its muscles on top of providing essential mental stimulation.
The bird's cage should also allow room to move and explore with ladders, a perch, and other enticing elements. Providing bird-safe toys is going to keep the bird occupied while inside. Rotate toys to prevent boredom and, since they do like to chew on things, gives the bird an outlet other than your furniture to take care of that instinct.
Social, affectionate, loyal
Intelligent, great talker and can perform tricks
Least nippy of the Amazon species
Can get loud when it wants to
One of the largest Amazons and requires a large cage
Needs at least 3 to 4 hours of socialization, exercise daily
Where to Adopt or Buy a Mealy Amazon
If you think a mealy Amazon might be the right bird for you, contact local breeders to see if you can schedule a visit to meet their birds. Observing the behavior of mealy Amazons in their home environment will help you decide whether or not this species is the right choice for your lifestyle.
Before purchasing a mealy Amazon from a bird store or breeder, check animal shelters and rescue organizations. They can cost from $1,000 to $2,000 from a breeder. Online resources can point you in the right direction of breeders or rescues:
If buying through a breeder, make sure you interview the breeder, look at the general health of their birds, check out their living conditions, and talk to past customers. Signs you should avoid the breeder include cramped living conditions, inactive birds, and breeders who avoid your questions or do not seem to have much information on their birds.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
If you are interested in similar species, check out:
- Lilac-Crowned Amazon Parrot Species Profile
- Orange-Winged Amazon Parrot Species Profile
- Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot Species Profile
Otherwise, check out all of our other Amazon parrot species profiles.