The Blue-Fronted Amazon Parrot, Amazona aestiva, whose ancestors called the wilds of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay home, counts as one of the most desirable pet birds. This exuberant and outgoing parrot is one of the best talkers.
In fact, its only fault is a love of vocal expression. The Blue-Fronted Amazon is a natural mimic and chatterbox. This talent is practiced throughout the day, but especially at sunup and sundown. A household pet will not understand why his performances that are such a source of joy for you on weekday mornings are not also appreciated on the weekends. Your parrot has no way of understanding that you were out the night before and wish to sleep late. Keep this in mind when you are considering where to place your bird’s cage. Noise can be controlled, to some extent, by keeping the cage covered when you want the bird to sleep.
The Blue-Fronted Amazon does not simply `parrot’ human speech. Very often, birds imitate people’s expressions seemingly on cue. The very real possibility exists that parrots have some understanding of what they are saying. For example, “Hello” is almost always given only as a greeting. I have seen (and heard!) Amazon parrots that would whistle only at women.
I worked in a store that had a pair of Amazon parrots in the window. One clever little fellow silently looked young ladies over as they entered the shop. As they walked down the aisle, turning their backs to him, he would let out an exuberantly delivered wolf whistle. I, standing behind the counter, in front of the bird’s cage, invariably instantly received a reproachful glance from the female patron. Luckily, the bird always immediately reproduced the whistle, saving me an explanation that probably would not have been believed. Men never received this attention from the feathered Don Juan.
A friend of mine owned a tame and talking Blue-Fronted Amazon, Bruce. Bruce was kept in an insurance agency. The bird just wasn’t cut out for the nine to five routine. His great pleasure was trying to join in on telephone conversations. The secretary did not consider this an endearing trait.
My friend decided to find Bruce a new home.
Doreen, the sister of my office manager, had a birthday coming up. She always wanted a parrot. Bruce fit right into his new home, becoming the ruler of the roost. He soon named his new owner “Ma.” Bruce, whose wings are clipped, takes great delight in climbing up a flight of stairs. Upon reaching the top, he yells, “Come get me, Ma!” You can see that Bruce is definitely not a bird brain. The only problem that Bruce is causing his new owner is not his fault. Before getting the parrot, she wanted to give the human child that she is expecting the name Bruce. Since the parrot arrived before the infant, the bird gets to keep the name.
When shopping for a Blue-Fronted Amazon, or any parrot for that matter, insist on a hand fed, domestically reared bird. You might want to purchase a nestling that still requires formula feeding. By hand-feeding your new baby bird, it will very quickly become bonded with you. Hand-feeding is not difficult, but must be done correctly. A bird this young is also not as hardy as one that is slightly older. A bird that is eating on its own will also probably be able to regulate its body temperature. This means that you will be able to keep your new pet in a bird cage instead of a heated fish tank.
Researchers have developed some excellent hand-feeding formulas for avian infants. These are vastly superior to the many “home brew” recipes that were used in the past. The new manufactured baby parrot foods may be conveniently purchased from most pet shops. No grinding or soaking is required. The modem nestling foods offer complete nutrition, only requiring the addition of hot water. It is very important to mix fresh for each feeding. Infant formula spoils in as little as twenty minutes, even under refrigeration. A microwave oven is very helpful in warming the baby food. Do test the formula on your wrist; it must be warm. If too hot the baby parrot may be injured or killed. For the exact feeding technique, consult the store where your bird was purchased.
Some may consider saving money through the purchase of a wild-caught bird. This is an example of misplaced economy. It takes great patience to tame a wild bird. If the bird was trapped as an adult, it generally never accepts people as friends. A captive-raised bird is naturally tame and will very likely already say a few words. By buying a domestic bird, you will not be contributing to the destruction of the rain forest. A wild-caught bird will always have been subjected to a great deal of stress, if not outright abuse. With birds, as with most everything else, what you see is what you get. A bird that is not tame, without professional training, is unlikely to become tame. Patience and expertise is no guarantee-many wild-caught birds are impossible to tame.
Remember, acquiring a Blue-Fronted Amazon is a long term commitment; these birds easily live to be fifty years old. Make sure that you want to be a bird owner at least that long.
Blue-Fronted Amazons are very easy to feed. Basic nutrition is supplied through any of the many fine vitamin, mineral, and protein enriched large hookbill seed mixes or pellets available at your local pet shop. This is just a start. Most parrots, and all Amazons, require fresh food. This might be any healthy human food. The exceptions are chocolate and avocado. Chocolate and avocado are poisonous to parrots and should never be fed. Amazons are particularly fond of beans and corn. All items should be fit for human consumption. When you are cleaning out the refrigerator, think of the trash bin, not your parrot! The owner of one or two parrots will find it very easy to simply give the birds a portion of his own dinner.
All birds must have fresh water daily. Many good vitamin preparations are produced for pet birds. If you place any of these in the water, put special emphasis on cleaning the water dish. Treat the bird’s dishes just like your own.
Most Amazon parrots are extremely healthy. Make sure your bird gets eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Any temperature that is comfortable for you in a shirt will be fine for the bird. Don’t subject the bird to quick changes of temperature or to a draft. A draft is a moving column of air, hot or cold. I know of a fine collection of parrots that was unintentionally destroyed by a well meaning owner. During an especially hot New Jersey summer, she placed a high speed fan in the birds’ room in the morning, right before leaving for work. When she returned home, all the birds were already extremely ill. By trying to treat them herself, they were not given a chance. An air conditioned room is fine, as long as your pet is not directly in the path of the cold air.
You may want to speak with your avian veterinarian about inoculating your parrot for Pacheco’s disease, particularly if it will ever be housed near a conure.