Scientific Name: Amazona amazonica
Adult length: 30-34cm (12-13in)
Potential lifespan: Fifty years.
Length: 30-33cm (larger in the south of the range). Weight: 360g to 400g.
Common; the most abundant large Parrot in many parts of its range.
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Variable blue and yellow coloration on the head sometimes results in confusion with the Blue fronted Amazon. It differs from the latter in the lighter (but also variable) beak colour: dark grey and dull yellow in amazonica and black in aestiva. It has orange (not red) in the wings and tail, green at the bend of the wing and yellowish on the carpal edge. It is smaller than aestiva.
Also variable; most young have as much or nearly as much yellow on the face but less blue on the head and of a softer shade. Young differ from adults in the grey or brown eye colour (rich orange-brown in adults). At ten to 11 weeks the iris colour varies between rich dark brown to light brown and then changes to orange-brown.
The northern part of South America east of the Andes, in Venezuela, Colombia, eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru, northern Bolivia, the Guianas and Brazil; also Trinidad and Tobago. Its range extends over a larger area than probably any other Amazon except the Mealy.
In Europe this has long been the most numerous Amazon, due to the huge numbers imported from Guyana up until 2005 when the importation of wild-caught birds was made illegal. It is perhaps the most heavily trapped of all Amazons, with more than 66,000 recorded in international trade from 1981 to 1985 and 43,041 from 1994 to 1998.
In addition there are large numbers of trapped birds that never leave their native country (in Venezuela, for example) and, with the high mortality, huge numbers are being removed from the wild.
The CITES worldwide Parrot export figures for 2000 showed that 10,255 Orange-winged Amazons had been exported from Guyana and Suriname in that year. It was the only member of the genus and one of only six Parrot species whose exports exceeded 10,000 in 2000. If you purchased an Orange-wing that was older than six years in 2011, the chances are more than 95% that your bird was wild-caught. Because of the lower price it was bred in Europe less frequently than the other popular Amazon species.
In some areas Orange-wings have been declared crop pests due to a liking for cultivated crops, especially cocoa. The very large dark red seed pod is thick and hard before ripening, then its exterior becomes soft enough for the Parrots to open. They relish the green (unripe) beans inside. Other favoured food items are the fruit of the golden apple (Pomcaete) and the black seeds of the mahoe tree (Sterculia caribaea).
A quality Parrot mixture, with plenty of small seeds, no more than 10% sunflower and without cheap fillers such as hard maize and split peas, is recommended. Seed should form no more than 50% of the diet. These Amazons need a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those that have a high Vitamin A content. Amazons often have serious Vitamin A deficiencies. This has severe consequences and is most likely to occur in those fed mainly on seed.
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Vitamin A is of great importance because it promotes healthy skin and healthy cells that line many parts of the body such as nostrils, throat, lungs, stomach and respiratory tract. My experiences over the years, of trying to help owners of single Parrots who often do not have a good knowledge of Parrot nutrition, shows that many of the health problems of these birds stems from Vitamin A deficiency.
In the USA a study of pet Parrots indicated that 67% were receiving less than the recommended level. I fear that the same is true in the UK. If you think your Amazon is suffering from this deficiency, look at the underside of its foot. If it is dark pink and slightly raw looking, this is an indication that you must correct its diet.
The best source of Vitamin A is the African oil palm which is grown throughout the tropics. The extract from its fruit has one of the highest known concentrations of Vitamin A. Many Parrots eagerly consume the nuts of the oil palm. The nuts and the palm fruit extract (which looks something like orange butter) have been available in the UK for several years. For Amazons, try spreading the extract on bread or toast. Order it here.
Most of us know that we should be persuading our Parrots to eat vegetables that are high in Vitamin A, such as sweet red peppers, carrot and broccoli. Lightly steamed broccoli spears have many health benefits for birds and humans, and Parrots can also be offered the raw leaves, also high in Vitamin A. The leaves and roots of dandelion are valuable sources of this vitamin, as are commercially grown dark green leaves.
Quite strident calls, remember that Amazons are likely to greet the dawn and the dusk with yelling sessions. It is advisable to hear the calls of an adult before buying a young one. Regarding mimicry, some Orange-wings can become good “talkers” but not in the same class as the Blue-fronts, Yellow-napes and Yellow-crowned.
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