Thanks to Rosemary Low for this interesting article about the Double Yellow Headed Amazon
36 to 38cm (14-15in).
about 500g (18oz).
Found only in Mexico, it occurs in Pacific and Atlantic woodlands, from southern Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon to Tabasco and, on the Pacific coast, from Colima south to Oaxaca. The formerly extensive range is now reduced to isolated populations.
Status in wild:Endangered. It was placed on Appendix 1 of CITES in November 2002. Sadly, due to loss of habitat, and theft of chicks from nests, the Double Yellow Head has declined drastically in recent years.
In the 1940s in Veracruz, flocks from a few birds to one hundred or more flew from their feeding grounds in the forest to their roosting sites on the coastal plain. For an hour before dusk varying numbers were always in view.
Large flocks are now a thing of the past. It inhabits dense riverine woodland and cultivated areas with trees and remnant forest patches, thorn scrub and forests.
Illegal trade flourished for decades, despite attempts to halt it. Mexican borders between California and Texas are difficult to police and thousands of Double Yellow Headed Amazons have entered the USA in this way, some by large-scale smugglers, some by Parrot keepers, who found it easy to hide one or two birds.
During the 1990s this was the species with the second highest numbers confiscated on the Mexico-Texas border. As the most popular of the Mexican Amazons, it has been harder hit by smuggling than any other. A new amendment to a wildlife law in Mexico which came into force in 2008 is helping the survival of this and other Mexican Amazons: a permanent ban has been placed on all sales of native Parrots.
The yellow is mainly confined to the forehead and crown, with some yellow on the cheeks. On fledging, part of the upper mandible is dark grey and the iris is dark brown. Full adult head colour is not acquired for at least six years.
The area of yellow extends with each annual moult; a patchwork of yellow and green feathers appearing on the crown. After the age of three years the yellow extends to the nape. It takes about five years for most of the head to become yellow. Thereafter, the area of yellow continues to increase slightly for several years.
Also called Yellow-headed Amazon, there is some confusion regarding its identity and that of the closely related forms, including the sub-species magna which is no longer recognised. Some taxonomists consider oratrix to be a separate species while others classify it as a subspecies of the Yellow-fronted or Yellow-crowned Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala). For practical (Exemption Certificate necessary) and conservation purposes, it is best considered as a separate species.
Few Amazons are as beautiful and as charismatic as the Double Yellow Head. The plumage of a mature adult is very striking. Its personality is lively and ebullient to say the least! It has a loud voice but because of its excellent powers of mimicry, it is often sought as a pet – but is not suitable for the inexperienced.
It has a mind of its own and can be very aggressive to the point of dangerous when in breeding condition. This does apply to most males kept as pets and creates difficulties for the owner for a few weeks of the year. It can be dangerous to let such a bird out in the house when other people are about until this behaviour subsides.
Screaming for attention can also be a problem. The advice of behaviourists is that when the Amazon is quiet the carer should go over to his cage, sit and talk to him and /or give him a favourite food item. When he screams ignore him. Hopefully he will eventually learn to associate quiet behaviour with good rewards.
Fruit, vegetables and cooked or soaked pulses (beans and peas) should comprise at least 40% of the diet. The rest should consist of a good quality seed mixture (with limited amounts of sunflower and preferably the peanuts removed for the wild birds) or perhaps pellets that do not contain artificial colours or flavouring.
As with all Parrots, items of fresh food high in Vitamin A should be favoured. These include par-boiled carrot, red bell pepper (cooked or raw), broccoli and cooked sweet potato. Whole young plants of dandelion and sow thistle are very valuable from spring to autumn and seeding dock is excellent during summer and early autumn.
Hawthorn berries will be relished. Items from the table such as meat bones (with no sharp edges) and cooked potato are often relished, also cubes of hard cheese. Bones and cheese provide some calcium.
I can recall a delightful young Double Yellow Head that was sold in a local pet shop. By coincidence, a friend encountered the purchaser about eight years later. On enquiring how the Amazon was he was told it had just died a couple of weeks previously. It had been fed on nothing but a Parrot mixture.
This kind of negligence is appalling, also hard to understand. Some owners cannot even be bothered to enquire about the proper diet or purchase a book on the subject — yet they can pay out a very large sum for a bird whose care they know nothing about. An Amazon kept on an all-seed diet will suffer a number of deficiencies — but especially that of Vitamin A. It almost certainly died from such a deficiency.
A Yellow Head will not be happy in a small cages. Close confinement can lead to aggressive behaviour. Either buy the largest cage you can afford or construct an oblong cage from 12g welded mesh. Make sure that the design allows food and water pots (four in all) to be serviced without a hand entering the cage. Adult males in breeding condition can be dangerous!
It is very important that basic commands such as “Step up!”, “Step down” and “Fly off!” are taught at an early age — the earlier the better. Yellow Heads can be very strong-willed! These instructions should be reinforced on a daily basis