The Blue Headed Parrot
The blue-headed parrot (Pionus menstruus) is one of eight species of pionus parrot native to Central America and South America. Measuring around 11 inches this bird's lifespan is around 25 years. Don't get muddled between this species and blue fronted Amazon parrots as they are quite different.
The blue-headed parrot is native to South America and Central America, and can be found in the America-Amazon basin from Costa Rica to Panama. Some good places to spot them in their native habitat are Brazil, Bolivia, Central America, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Venezuela. In these countries they live in forests and some more open locations. They tend to live in groups, often roosting in palm trees, and are a sociable bird.
Whilst their name derives from a distinctive blue head this parrot has a number of subtle color markings. The blue of the head extends some way down the chest to the green body. When examined closely it can be seen that they have red coloring beneath their tail feathers and some dashes of yellow on the wing coverts. The mandible (lower jaw area) is black, but has reddish areas at the sides. You will also note some reddish feathers around the ceres (a soft, fleshy swelling on the top of the beak).
Of the parrots commonly kept as pets the blue-headed is one of the most affectionate and calm. With dedicated coaching they can also be reared into reasonable mimics. However, they are not the best mimics, and in fact on the plus side are quite quiet for parrots.
The blue-headed parrot is comfortable in both an aviary and indoors, but if you have a non-captive bred specimen then the acclimatization process can take up to two years.
For this bird grit and cuttlefish bone are good supplements to the standard parrot diet of parrot mix, fruit and greens. In the wild they enjoy seed as the staple food.
One health issue to watch out for with this species is that these generally healthy birds have a disposition to aspergillosis. This fungal disease is marked by poor breathing. In addition to this a swollen eye ring can be a sign of a nasal blockage. Finally, the pionus can exhibit flaky bills, but this is just a sign of intensive use rather than something to be concerned over. If you breed your pet you can expect a clutch of three to five eggs.
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