Panama Amazon Parrot (Panama Yellow-Headed Amazon): Bird Species Profile

Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

Yellow-crowned Amazon (also known as the Yellow-crowned Parrot) at Jurong Bird Park, Singapore.
Peter Tan/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

The highly prized Panama Amazon is a relatively rare subspecies of yellow-fronted Amazon known for its playful, non-aggressive personality. It is a friendly pet that loves interacting with people. This medium-sized green parrot can be a prodigious talker when trained diligently.

Species Overview

Common Names: Panama Amazon, Panama yellow-headed Amazon parrot, Yellow-fronted Amazon parrot

Scientific Name: Amazona ochrocephala panamensis, Amazona panamenisis

Adult Size: 12 and 13 inches, weighing about 13 ounces

Life Expectancy: 40 to 60 years

Origin and History

The Panama Amazon parrot's natural range extends from northern Colombia to western Panama, including the Pearl Islands and Coiba. Like other Amazon parrot species, it dwells principally in rainforests.

An exotic find in the pet trade, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species lists the Panama Amazon as an endangered species. Although trapping is outlawed, loss of habitat and illegal trapping has significantly reduced wild populations of this bird.


Panama Amazons are social, entertaining birds that have become increasingly popular as pets in recent years. Their high intelligence, coupled with their playful nature, makes them well-suited as pets for families and active households. They are highly talented talkers that can get noisy when the mood strikes.

Their social nature helps to make them gentle and affectionate companions. While this is a loving bird, this is also a very active species, so this bird needs an owner that can keep up with it. It must have a safe space to climb and play outside of the cage each day.

Like all Amazon parrots, Panama Amazons may go through a temporary aggressive stage during its adolescence. This bird needs the guidance of an experienced parrot handler to navigate through this challenging period.

Speech and Vocalizations

Prized for its great talking ability, it is a quick learner that can easily mimic sounds and become an excellent talker. Like most Amazons, they tend to get very noisy for about 10 minutes at sunrise and again at sundown. This clock alarm-like instinct has carried over from its days living in the wild as an avian timekeeper.

Panama Amazon Parrot Colors and Markings

Panama Amazons are mostly green with a bright yellow triangular patch on their foreheads. They have a spot of red on the tops of their wings, flesh-colored feet, and horn-colored beaks. The eye is orange, surrounded by an unfeathered white ring.

Their markings often lead people to confuse them with the popular yellow-naped Amazon parrot. The differences are subtle. The Panama Amazon is a bit smaller, a darker shade of green, and it lacks the reddish-orange spot on the upper part of the beak that the yellow-naped has.

Markings on the face of the Panama Amazon Parrot
Laura Clavijo / EyeEm/Getty Images

Caring for the Panama Amazon Parrot

This bird, although not large, needs a roomy cage. A suitable enclosure has a 2-foot by 3-foot footprint standing 2 1/2 to 5 feet high. A playpen on top of the cage, including a hanging perch, will encourage exercise. Amazon parrots, including the Panama, can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but it needs to stay out of drafts.

Amazon parrots thrive on social interaction, and they need it to remain healthy and happy. Neglected birds often fall into destructive behavior patterns and depression, which can manifest itself in various physical and emotional problems.

It is necessary to set aside time each day for one-on-one interaction with the bird; this establishes and maintains a healthy bond. For owners unable to provide a lot of daily interaction, you might want to get another bird to keep it company.

While hand-fed Amazon parrots usually make loving, affectionate pets, many go through bluffing, an aggressive, biting stage as it approaches sexual maturity (at age 4 to 5) that some owners can't handle. While the phase does pass, it can last for two weeks or two years. Potential owners should remember that if they adopt a Panama Amazon, they are making a lifelong commitment. These birds can live more than 60 years if properly cared for, so keeping one is not a decision to be taken lightly.

As a rainforest bird, it relishes its frequent showers or baths. Bath time can be an opportunity for good interaction with your bird, and some owners take the bird into the bathroom shower with them each morning. More commonly, you can shower your bird several times each week using a sink sprayer; this is a gratifying experience for your Panama Amazon parrot. 

Common Health Problems

The Panama Amazon is a remarkably healthy bird when adequately cared for, but it can also develop common health problems found in other Amazon parrots.

The birds are prone to fungal diseases such as aspergillosis. To prevent this disease from affecting your bird, remove any old wood shavings or other materials that can harbor mold. Also, Amazons are susceptible to bacterial infections. Symptoms include runny fecal droppings and respiratory problems like difficulty breathing. These infections can be treatable; however, aspergillosis is often fatal.

If the bird does not get a balanced diet or eat enough fruit and vegetables, your bird can get a vitamin A deficiency, fatty liver syndrome, or cancerous fatty tumors.

Diet and Nutrition

In the wild, the Panama Amazon eats berries, other fruits, plants, seeds, and nuts. Like all Amazon parrots, Panama 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.

Specially formulated pellets are an ideal food and should ideally represent approximately 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 1/2 cup of fruits and vegetables daily, then adjust according to their appetite.

Panama Amazons enjoy eating with the family. You can share a wide range of nutritious human food with the bird, although do not let it overeat. As with all parrots, avocado and chocolate are toxic to these birds. 


Amazon Parrots are prone to excessive weight gain, so make sure it gets exercise every day. If you want a Panama Amazon, expect to give the bird a minimum of 3 to 4 hours outside of its cage per day. This dedicated exercise time will allow the bird to burn excess calories, stretch its wings and muscles, as well as provide it with essential mental stimulation.

These birds are heavy chewers that will need plenty of toys to chew on and grab with their feet. Provide fun ropes or ladders that might interest birds to jump and climb.

  • Social, friendly, likes handling

  • Intelligent, can learn to talk and do tricks

  • Can be noisy, not well-suited for apartments

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

Where to Adopt or Buy a Panama Amazon Parrot

The trade and sale of these wild birds are forbidden. Make sure to buy a bird that is captive-bred certified. The price ranges from $800 to $2,500 for hand-tame babies or adults that need a new home. Some online sources where you can find Panama Amazon parrots include:

If you are going the breeder route, make sure that the breeder is reputable. Ask how long they have been breeding and tour their facility. Make sure that the bird you want to take home is alert, active, and exhibits all the signs of a healthy bird, such as bright eyes, clean feathers, and full crops.

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

If a Panama Amazon sounds like a good fit, you may be interested in similar species, check out:

Otherwise, take a look at some similar birds in the large parrot species profiles.