Amazonia: A Best Feathered Friend

I took my cat to my mom’s so that she could have a pet while she snow-birds in Florida. The cat FREAKED out! He spent the first day under her hutch and the first night yowling. The second day was spent in her dark closet… a parrot would never behave this way.

Parrots are vastly different as pets. Actually, I think they need to be thought of as a different category than “pet” because they become family members more so than most other pets; demanding family members! They become companions and best-feathered-friends which require a special diet, naturally make HUGE messes and are LOUD.

I Love Amazons!

Amazons are one of my favorite parrot genus-

When I take my Mexican red-headed parrot, Amazona viridigenalis, or my Yellow-naped Amazon, Amazona auropalliata, to my mom’s they are uncomfortable and quiet, but they stay with me. They don’t hide and when they see lunch being served, they quickly shift out of being nervous and into being hungry for my lunch.

Sure, a dog would accompany me to my mom’s for lunch too, and she does, but my Amazons stay on me. My dog abandons me for the kitchen the minute she’s in the door! My parrots are interested in being with me because I’m ‘in the flock.’ I may even be their BFF too, their best-feathered-friend. They are more interested in being with me than chasing a rabbit or eating treats that my mom is handing out.

Amazons, like most parrots, are first and foremost, social and dedicated to their companion.

Unlike a dog, once Ursulus (in the pic) feels comfortable with my food, he helps himself. A true gentleman, he used a spoon to feed himself at lunch. No, pets don’t do this, but a parrot who have zygodactyl feet can hold things. With his foot Ursulus raised the spoon to his mouth, making it easier to eat the quinoa in my salad. No other birds can do this, only parrots, psittacines.


Amazons Talk & Cuddle

The next amazing Amazon characteristic is that they cuddle. In this picture Lorenza is cuddling with me. She can be quite tender and loving with me. She talks to me when she wants attention or when she wants something. If I’m eating, she is often heard saying “Want some?” meaning that she wants me to share. No, she’s not parroting because she ONLY says this when she wants some. She doesn’t say so when there is no food around or when I’m eating something healthy…

The downside to the Amazon genus is that these parrots can be one-person birds, meaning that they can choose their BFF and no one else is even allow around them and their person. Unfortunately, Lorenza is like this, although Ursulus is not. Lorenza, who I adopted as an adult, is possessive or  highly protective – depending on how you see things. She knows my daughter is important to me, so she is particularly intolerant of my daughter. This means that Lorenza will try to lunge at, attack or bully my daughter. Fortunately, my daughter is a parrot whisperer, so she doesn’t scare at all. She handles all our parrots with grace, elegance and without hurting them or without getting hurt, so she knows how to stand up to Lorenza and get her to back down.

Still, this is a down-side. It’s something we have to be careful and aware of because Lorenza’s logic is simply to be aggressive when my daughter is around or anyone else she doesn’t want around us. She bites, trying to show everyone how things should be, and I tend to be the closest to her beak…

Having your parrot be a one-person parrot (African Greys and Macaws can be like this too) can be avoided when multiple family members handle them on a regular basis. Urusul is not like this, on the contrary, he’s friendly with everyone he knows. He is young and this is the time to socialize him with ‘all of the flock.’

Low Fat Zone For The Zons

As much as Polly may want a cracker, and I have it on excellent authority that processed wheat is not beneficial for parrots, nuts and seeds are also important to avoid if you have an Amazon. There is something fascinating about feeding a walnut in it’s shell to a Macaw and watching her hold the walnut, crack it open -in to time at all- and happily eat away at it, as she should.

How Bad Could It Possibly Be To Feed An Amazon Parrot Nuts Or Seeds?

I’m in South Florida and the parrot life here is fantastic. We have exotic bird stores around and avian vets. I know that some states don’t have an avian veterinarian in-state. I have compassion for people who don’t have a avian vet close by because at times taking your parrot to the vet is critical-

One of the veterinarians that I go to told me, when she saw Lorenza on my shoulder, that she’s had people come in with their Amazon and she’s had to explain to them that holding the parrot might crush it’s bones! Yes, that is how frail their bones can become due to a high-fat seed diet. Their beaks and nails also grow irregularly in unhealthy ways. My vet even said that their nails grow long and get caught on their cages so that when the parrot pulls their foot, they break bones! Yikes!

How The Hell Could That Be?

Does that sound crazy-ridiculous to you? Me too, let me tell you. However, you are what you and so is your parrot. One problem with feeding any parrot a seed-based diet (or giving them too many seeds) is that seeds prevent the absorption of calcium. If a parrot is eating seeds daily, how is his body going to get the calcium it needs for ALL his systems in addition to his bones, nails and feathers?

What a grim picture…

Yes, parrots use calcium in all their body’s systems. Seeds are never so readily available to them in nature. On the contrary, seeds are only available once a year, at best; the rest of the time parrots have to eat the plants, vegetables and un-ripe fruit that they find through foraging. That means that they expend a lot more energy flying and searching for food in nature. In our homes they tend to be less active, burn less calories and should have a lot less fat in their diets.

Amazons, like several other parrots, need a strict diet made up of pellets with fresh foods (vegetables and greens mostly) and treats that are things like carrots, dry papaya pieces, dry spicy chili peppers… in other words, ‘treats’ that are beneficial to their health.

(picture is of an Orange-winged Amazon, Amazona amazonica)

Amazons Are Performers

Maybe Amazons are like Hollywood stars, they need to exercise and eat a super healthy diet to keep themselves in a prime physical condition in order to sing and talk for their captive audience!

I don’t know of any others parrots that can sing the way some Amazons can – I once was in one of my favorite exotic bird stores. I greeted an Amazon parrot who was boarding, and in return he started singing “Happy birthday” to me!  Have you ever heard an Amazon sing? They can belt out a song! My African Grey will sing a line, but Amazons can sing a full song!

So, you can’t let them eat seeds because it will clog their arteries and -break- their bones (not right away, but by the time the damage shows, it’s too late so it’s easy to be tricked into thinking that seeds or fat are innocuous…)

Cuddling Is Fat-Free

Keeping a loving, affectionate Amazon happens more-so when you keep them healthy. An unhealthy parrot gets moody and grumpy and isn’t as much fun. A happy, bright and healthy Amazon will dedicate her life to you. She’ll love you, talk to you and stay on your shoulder (which vets don’t recommend, you have to make sure you trust your parrot not to bite you) for decades, a true companion.

Have a questions about parrots?
As the author of “The Parrot Bliss Bond,” I love and welcome questions about having a parrot and creating one of the best experiences of your life!

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