Scientific name: Amazona ochrocephala ochrocephala
Common name: Yellow-crowned Amazon, Yellow-fronted Amazon
Potential lifespan: 40 to 50 years
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Status in wild: Not threatened -- common in some areas.
Colombia, Venezuela, most of Brazil and the Guianas. The similar but smaller (31cm) and light-beaked Panama Amazon (A.o.panamensis) occurs in Panama and north-western Colombia. The sub-species nattereri from southern Colombia, eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru and northern Bolivia, might not be recognised by most keepers as it differs mainly in having a narrow band of green feathers above the cere. Most of the Yellow-fronted Amazons in the UK originated from Guyana.
Suitability as a companion
In my opinion, this is the best of all Amazon species for its wonderful personality and temperament. But I am biased! A female Yellow-fronted was my most adored companion for 39½ years. She was an adult when I acquired her. She died from a stroke in 2006. She was irreplaceable.
In the days when you could buy Parrots as they arrived from the airport, you could literally buy them out of the import crates. I was there when some crates were opened. A Yellow-fronted Amazon just walked out of one, apparently unruffled by the long flight from South America. She had the composure of a hand-reared Parrot that had just stepped out of its cage.
It was immediately apparent to me that she had been a pet, probably in Colombia. She had the confidence of a Parrot that had never known bad experiences. I put out my hand and she stepped on to it. That was it!
I gave the importer a £10 note and she was mine! I called her Lito, short for Angelito (little angel), not knowing then that she was a female and should have been called Lita. Without any doubt, she was the best purchase I ever made in my life - not only because that price worked out at 25p per year but because of her wonderful happy personality. She was a treasure beyond compare.
The behaviour and personality of Amazon Parrots varies greatly according to the species. The Yellow-fronted, or Yellow-crowned as it is more often known these days, is one of the best -- outgoing, often singing and laughing and with an infectious joie de vivre. I would say it is a bit less aggressive than the Blue-front or Double Yellow-head. Most Amazons in breeding condition can be very feisty indeed and males of the last two species in the home can cause serious problems.
Tap water sprayed from a plant mister three or four times a week kept Lito’s plumage in immaculate condition. She enjoyed this immensely, flapping her wings and holding them open to receive as much water as possible. Like water off a duck’s back, it just rolled off some parts of her plumage as it was in such good condition. Some form of bath (some people take their Parrot in the shower, in warm water) is essential to keep an Amazon’s feathers shiny and relatively dust-free.
This species can become a very talented mimic, especially if acquired young and given a great degree of human companionship. Amazons have a reputation for being noisy but the loud calls are much less frequent in a contented bird whose needs are fulfilled and understood. I knew what all Lito’s calls meant and acted at once to attend to her needs and to stop her calling. Most Amazons will make a small sound that means they want a little attention. I believe that this should be responded to at once, just as a wild Amazon would immediately respond to a contact call of its mate.
If I spoke to Lito for a few seconds or rubbed her head, she would be happy. But if she was ignored, her calls would become louder. The loud calls would also start when she wanted something to eat or when she wanted to be moved to her stand in another room, in which case I complied at once. If a Parrot calls, it is for a reason and every effort should be made to find out what this reason is.
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 flavourings.
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.
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