Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot: Bird Species Profile

Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

Yellow-napped parrot (Amazona auropalliata), Costa Rica
Jim Cumming / Getty Images

Yellow-naped Amazon parrots are intelligent creatures that make excellent pets for owners who want to form a great bond with their bird. Their remarkable speaking abilities make them one of the most popular Amazon parrot species. Yet, they are not the best bird for families with children because they're known to go through a period of slight aggression as they approach adolescence.

Species Overview

Common Names: Yellow-naped parrot, golden-naped Amazon

Scientific Name: Amazona ochrocephala auropalliata

Adult Size: 12 to 15 inches, weighing about 1 pound

Life Expectancy: 50 to 60 years or longer with the proper care; some reach the age of 70 and even 90 years old

Origin and History

Sometimes considered a subspecies of the yellow-crowned Amazon parrot, these birds are native to the Pacific side of Central America and northern South America. They are primarily live in southern Mexico and northwest Costa Rica.

There are two well-known subspecies of the yellow-naped Amazon. The Honduras yellow-naped Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala parvipes) lives in Honduras, the Bay Islands, and parts of Nicaragua. The Roatán yellow-naped Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala caribae) is also native to northern Honduras as well as the island of Roatán.

Like many exotic pet parrots, this species is endangered in the wild. They are threatened due to deforestation and illegal trapping.

Temperament

Yellow-naped Amazons are brilliant, comical birds that love to be the center of attention. They tend to form extremely close bonds with their owners.

Hand-fed Amazon parrots typically make loving, affectionate pets. Like many Amazons, however, yellow-naped Amazons go through a hormonal bluffing stage as they approach sexual maturity (age 4 months to 1 year). While the phase does pass, it can sometimes last for up to two years.

During their bluffing stage, yellow-naped Amazons may bite and show other aggressive behaviors. It's more apparent in the males, and some birds act out more than others. Because of this, you may want to consider a female parrot. In general, a young or adolescent Amazon is not the best bird for families with children.

Speech and Vocalizations

These parrots may not screech as much as some, but they will get very loud on occasion. They are excellent talkers and singers, however. You can train these birds to develop a rather extensive vocabulary of words spoken with great human-like clarity, but be careful what you say. They're also known for picking up (and relentlessly remembering) some phrases you'd prefer the bird to forget.

Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot Colors and Markings

Yellow-naped Amazons are mostly a bright green color. Their name comes from a blaze of yellow on the lower nape along the back of the neck. Another yellow patch often appears on the forehead and crown, and they have slashes of red in the feathers of their wings. These birds have gray to black beaks and feet.

There is a stunning color mutation of this bird. Its primary body feathers appear as a blue-green with darker turquoise on the wings and a white spot on the nape. They are rare and command a high price in the bird world.

Males and females look exactly alike. To tell the two sexes apart, your bird would require genetic testing or a surgical sexing procedure. DNA tests are the least invasive way and can be purchased online, inexpensively.

Caring for a Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot

Yellow-naped Amazon parrots are best suited for experienced bird owners. They require a great deal of attention, and you will need to set aside a period each day for one-on-one interaction with your bird. This socialization is key to establishing and maintaining a healthy bond. 

These birds thrive on social interaction, and they need it to remain healthy and happy. Neglected birds can fall into destructive behavior patterns and depression. Depression or anxiety can lead to physical and emotional problems, including feather plucking and biting people.

For these reasons, you should ask about the history of any mature bird you're looking to adopt. Bad habits, past trauma, and inadequate training can result in a parrot that even the best bird behaviorists will have difficulty rehabilitating.

Potential owners should remember that if they adopt a yellow-naped Amazon, they are taking on the care of a creature that is every bit as intelligent and emotional as a human toddler. Due to their very long lifespan, caring for one is not a commitment to be taken lightly.

Make sure you provide a cage that is suited to this bird—at least 3-foot-square. The bird may seem small, but it still needs room to move and play. Keep the bird occupied while you're not available by outfitting the cage with ladders, perches, and interactive toys.

Common Health Problems

Amazons are relatively healthy, long-lived birds but are susceptible to the following:

  • Feather-picking, usually a result of neglect or lack of mental/physical stimulation
  • Psittacosis, also called parrot fever, an infection caused by chlamydia bacteria
  • Poor eating habits and obesity, which may be prevented with a healthy, balanced diet and regular, daily exercise

Diet and Nutrition

Amazon parrots eat a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and vegetation in the wild.

Like all Amazon parrots, yellow-naped Amazons are prone to obesity in captivity. Obesity can not only take years off a bird's life but also lead to tumors and other serious health issues. Provide your bird a healthy diet, limit high-fat foods like seeds and nuts, give your bird daily exercise. A mentally stimulating activity for your bird is hiding an occasional treat, which mimics the bird's instinct to forage for its food.

Yellow-naped Amazons do best on a high-quality pelleted diet supplemented with seed mix. Daily servings of fresh bird-safe fruits and vegetables will also ensure that your bird is getting the right balance of the vitamins and nutrients it needs. 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.

Exercise

A yellow-naped Amazon needs at least 3 hours of daily outside-the-cage time to burn excess calories and stretch his muscles. This activity helps prevent weight gain and also provides the bird much-needed mental stimulation.

Since these birds are smart and prone to boredom, you will want to provide plenty of activities to keep your bird engaged. You can teach a yellow-naped Amazon tricks or giving it puzzle toys to keep its brain active. Give it toys that play on the parrot's chewing instinct and help it burn off some energy while caged.

Pros
  • Social, affectionate, loyal

  • Intelligent, a great mimic and talker

Cons
  • Can get loud when it wants to

  • May have biting, aggressive period during its adolescence; not recommended for families with young children

Where to Adopt or Buy a Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot

Before purchasing a double yellow-headed Amazon from a bird store or breeder, check animal shelters and rescue organizations. They can cost from $2,000 to $3,000 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:

Otherwise, check out all of our other Amazon parrot species profiles.