Animal-World > Birds > Amazon Parrots > Green-cheeked Amazon

Green-cheeked Amazon

Red-crowned Amazon, Mexican Red-headed Parrot

Family: Psittacidae Red-crowned Amazon Amazona viridigenalis, also called Green-cheeked Amazon and Mexican Red-headed ParrotAmazona viridigenalisPhoto Wiki Commons, courtesy Racherl Fogarty.
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My mother owns a mexican red head amazon parrot and he is an amazing bird. He never stops talking and when you give him a shower he screams ow and stop. He loves... (more)  Bre

   The pretty Red-crowned Amazon is one of the most agreeable of the Amazon Parrots!

   The Green-cheeked Amazon Amazona viridigenalis is a very attractive parrot originating primarily from Northeast Mexico. Overall it is a darker green Amazon, though a paler green underneath, and has iridescent light green cheeks circled in lilac. Its other descriptive names, Red-crowned Amazon and Mexican Red-headed Parrot, are derived from its vibrant crown of bright scarlet.

   The Green-cheek Amazon is definitely a more amenable Amazon. It is a pleasant, social Amazon that enjoys its human companions and is not as independent nor as feisty as its cousins. Once in a while it will assert its independence, and when it does it will be obvious. The pupils of their eyes will constrict and light up like little flashlights, this is referred to as the "blazing eye". Its head will come down, the tail feathers will fan out and the wings will extend. This is the Green-cheek Amazons way of saying "just leave me alone", and this usually occurs in breeding season.

   This is a favorite among bird lovers for its calm but playful nature. These Red-crowned Amazons loved to have the top of their head and the sides of their face petted, and will frequently just lay their head down for you to provide them with this attention. Some of them are talkers, but most are better at mimicking sounds.

   Green-Cheeked Amazons travel in large flocks in the wild. They are very gregarious, and require regular involvement in the routine of their human flock. Keepers will need to make some adjustments when they add an intelligent creature like this to their home as these parrots will become depressed if neglected. They need to be included. With this pet bird you have a companion for meals or watching television, yes, they do watch television.

For more information about Amazon Birds see:
Amazon Parrot: Information and Care

Geographic Distribution
Amazona viridigenalis
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Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Amazona
  • Species: viridigenalis

Scientific name

   Amazona viridigenalis


   The Green-Cheeked Amazon Amazona viridigenalis was first described by Cassin in 1853. It is also known as the Red-crowned Amazon and Mexican Red-headed Parrot. It is native to the lowlands of Northeast Mexico, and has been introduced into Puerto Rico and the United States. There are feral flocks surviving quite well in California, Florida and Texas.

   In the wild they live in large flocks of between twenty to over a hundred birds which are quite conspicuous and noisy. They inhabit forests and wooded areas in lush lowlands and foothills. There they feed on fruits, berries, seeds, nuts, and the blossoms and leafy buds of foliage. They are said to rather wasteful, taking just a bite of a piece of fruit and then letting the rest fall to the ground.


   The Amazona viridigenalis is on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species as Endangered (EN).


   The Green-cheeked Amazon is primarily a darker green color with paler green and more yellow on the under parts. The feathers are edged in a dusky black, particularly on the neck. The color of the crown is a bright scarlet with the bases of those feathers edged in yellow. There is a violet blue band going from the eyes down. The checks are an iridescent light green and there is a lilac coloring behind the eyes. There are colors of violet blue and red on the wings.

   This is an attractive amazon and its coloring is reflected in the name Green-cheeked as well as its other common names, Red-crowned Amazon and Mexican Red-headed Parrot. For some reason the Green Cheek appears to be a little smaller than many of the other amazons, however, they measure about the same in length as the other mid-sized Amazons. Mature birds are about 13 inches (33 cm) long from the head to the tip of the tail. They are sexually mature at around 5 years old and have a life span of several decades.

Care and feeding

   In the wild, the diet of the Green-cheeked Amazon consists of fruits, plants, seeds and nuts, but will frequently take a bite of something and then just toss the rest. When food is plentiful they are known to waste, just looking for something they like better. Of course, during breeding season, everything is eaten and used. A pet bird will enjoy a varied diet, including a quality seed mix or a pelleted diet, and many fresh fruits and vegetables. Pellets will work if started at an early age. Plenty of human food that is nutritious can be offered.

   Fruits and vegetables are great but a little chicken or meatloaf is good too. Sweet potatoes provide Vitamin A. Peanut butter or honey at the bottom of a Dixie cup or on a cracker brings them happiness. It will also bring you laughter. Amazons also love pasta but can make a real mess with spaghetti and sauce. They like to eat at the table and enjoy eating with their family. They will let you know when it's dinner time. Avocado and chocolate are toxic to any parrot.


   A roomy cage is needed for the Mexican Red-headed Parrot. Amazon parrot cages must not be too confining, so get one that your pet will be able to feel comfortable in. It is their territory and their safe place.This parrot likes to climb and play, and enjoys expanding its wings. It is recommended that a cage be 2 x 3 feet wide and between 2 1/2 to 5 feet high, preferably with a play pen top. Red-crowned Amazons also like to climb so a hanging perch above its cage is a wonderful addition for your friend.

   These Amazons can tolerate varying temperatures, but they need to be kept away from any drafts. They love to be out of their cage on a playpen, and will enjoy interacting with their human as well as playing with toys. A variety of perches should be used of varying size and texture. A rougher textured perch instead of the smooth, doll-rod types, makes it easier for them to perch and is better for their feet and legs. A concrete perch can be placed as the highest perch in the cage and next to a toy. At times during the day they will perch there and it will save them (and you) from the ordeal of having their nails filed.

  Don't forget bathing.  Spraying your amazon with warm water or a commercially available bird bath is necessary to keep the feathers from drying out.  .


   The basic cage care includes daily cleaning of the water and food dishes. Weekly you should wash all the perches and dirty toys, and the floor should be washed about every other week. A total hosing down and disinfecting of an aviary should be done yearly, replacing anything that needs to be freshened, such as old dishes, toys and perches.

Red-crowned Amazon Amazona viridigenalis, also called Green-cheeked Amazon and Mexican Red-headed Parrot"Chico" Green-cheeked Amazon Photo © Animal-World:
Courtesy David Brough

Social Behaviors

   In the wild, Green-cheeked Amazons gather in large flocks from twenty to a hundred individuals. Pairs are not necessarily discernable. The flock remains active throughout most of the day and takes a rest if necessary in the treetops. Their flight is in a compact formation. They are found in pairs or in colonies.

   These parrots enjoy human interaction as well as interaction with other birds. They like to be greeted when you come into the room. They like to eat at the table and will let you know when it's dinner time. They are quite content and comfortable to be on a perch and in the company of its humans. Whether watching TV or eating dinner, the Green-cheeked Amazon wants to be with you. A greater attachment also develops between you and your feathered friend the more you are together.


   The Green-cheeked Amazon quickly becomes accustomed to a new environment and its keeper, and is then ready to start bird training. Generally though, you should give a new arrival a few days to get use to you, your voice and its cage before trying to handle it. A hand fed baby will not need much taming and can often be handled right away, as it is use to human attention.

   For information about training your Green-cheeked Amazon see: Amazon Parrot Care: Handling and Training


  The Green-cheeked Amazon is a more contented amazon and will just enjoy being around you. He likes plenty of toys, wants new toys, and will play with his toys.  A perch made available to him so he can watch TV with you and eat dinner with you is wonderful.

Sexing - Sexual Differences

   It is said that the males have larger areas of color in the scarlet and lilac on their heads but the only way to be certain of the sex is through sexing the bird. If gender identification is important (for example for breeding birds) DNA / Feather or surgical sexing is recommended.


   The Green-cheeked or Red-crowned Amazons have been breeding successfully in captivity since the 1970's. They are sexually mature at around 5 years old, but the sexes must be confirmed and the pair must be harmonious, bonded with each other. They will need a nest box that is 31"-39" (80-100 cm) high with an inside diameter of 12"-14" (30-35 cm) and an opening of 4"-5" (10-12 cm). Provide some soft bedding material inside on the bottom of the box.

   The hen will lay two to four eggs (sometimes 5) which she will incubate for about 29 days. The young will leave the nest at proximately 9 weeks old. In some cases the female will not feed all the chicks so a breeder will be feeding some from day one.

Potential Problems

   Most birds will call out to other members of the flock first thing in the morning. They call out again right before sunset. This is their good morning and their alert that night is coming. The Green-cheeked Amazons are no exception to this. They will make noise first thing in the morning and right before the sun goes down.

   "Sometimes they will even let you know about 15 minutes before a major storm comes in. That is the nature of an amazon and many other birds. It is just something you adjust to. The alert cries and squawks last about 10 minutes. One time I yelled back at my Panama Amazon to "SHUT UP" and he just yelled back "NO"!"... Cheryl Galloway.

   A Green-cheeked Amazon when well cared for will seldom become ill. Though it is often difficult to determine illness, some visible signs of illness to be aware of are:

  • ruffled plumage
  • listlessness
  • drooping wings
  • sagging body
  • extreme mood changes
  • having no appetite
  • bulges in feathering
  • partially closed or watery eyes
  • swelling of the eyelids
  • rasping
  • difficulty breathing
  • excessive saliva
  • dirty vent
  • any change in the feces not apparently diet related.

   Some of the more common illnesses are:

  • Psittacosis (chlamydiosis or parrot fever)
  • bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
  • feather picking (results of boredom, poor diet, sexual frustration, lack of bathing)
  • allergies
  • chewing flight and tail feathers by juveniles
  • beak malformations in chicks
  • Papillomas
  • kidney disease (gout)
  • toxicity
  • heavy metal poisoning
  • lipomas in older birds.

   If you notice any of these bird illnesses in your Green-cheeked Amazon, immediately provide a warm, draft free, secure environment kept at about 86°F (30°C). Place food and water close to the perch where it is easily accessible. An ailing parrot should be taken to a avian veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.


   The Green-cheeked or Red-crowned Amazon is readily available and it should be easy to find one in a pet store or from breeders in your area. They are not as expensive as most of the other amazons, probably because they do not speak as well. However, their affectionate nature certainly makes up for that.


Author: Cheryl Galloway, Clarice Brough CAS
Lastest Animal Stories on Green-cheeked Amazon

Bre - 2014-04-23
My mother owns a mexican red head amazon parrot and he is an amazing bird. He never stops talking and when you give him a shower he screams ow and stop. He loves popcorn and bread. He is not just a bird, he is family.

  • Gail Goode - 2014-08-13
    My first Amazon Parrot was given to me by a boyfriend 37 years ago when he was two years old. So that makes him approx 40 yrs. I had many Amazon's , but he was the best of all. Super social , went to everyone and a fair talker. I just recently read that the Bird was on the endangered list !! Just trying to confirm!
Elizabeth Mosley - 2014-01-02
I have had mine for almost 35 years 'Paco' He was confiscated at the boarder then put in quarantine and then sold, so he is sort of a rescue bird. He has a beautiful large cage that is near a nice large window with a mirror and also likes to sit in my master bath, as I have a perch there for him too. I just love him. He is also in full flight as I feel that is the one thing they have going for them is to fly, so I did not want to take that away from him. He has 3 perches he lands on and is quite good. I only let him out of his “5 level condo” when I am home by myself. In the past two or three years he is getting yellow feathers scattered around his neck area and I do not know what that means. This past year even more. Does anyone else have issues like this and is it just age, like grey hair? :) I give him seeds ( a mixture I create myself), apples, grapes, carrots, celery and on occasion cheese and cooked eggs. He loves walnuts and gets one every other day too. And an almond about 3 times a week. I was just talking with a friend who has a small bird and she think it might be his liver??? I pray Paco is okay. I just thought he was getting more handsome. Thanks!

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-01-04
    Nutritional problems have been known to cause feather color changes in parrots. Also a derangement of the metabolism or a disruption to the nutrition of a bird during the time when feathers are being formed can cause color change and can also affect the quality of feathers. With a corrected diet, it will molt back to its original coloration.

    Although Amazon parrots eat many seeds in the wild, in captivity a seed-based diet is not recommended because this allows the pet bird to select an imbalanced diet. A better solutions is a formulated diets (pellets or crumbles) making up about 75% of its food, because this type of diet provides a more complete, balanced nutrition. Dark leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits can make up about 20-25% of the diet. Treats should be limited to about 5%.

    Discolored feathers can also be due to a malnutition or liver disease. Cockatiels for example, have been known to develop bright yellow feathers with a severe liver disease, caused by fatty liver syndrome (hepatic lipidosis). Certain viruses can also cause abnormal feathers; however, this is not a common occurrence.
Chet Bacon - 2013-04-10
We've had ours for over 40 years now - some parrots like to be placed next to a window so it keeps them looking at things and quiet. Others like to be covered, not ours. After 40 years we are beginning to wonder who will outlive who! We give him people food, steak and potatoes, green peas are a favorite, nuts in the shell, his home has very course abrasive paper on it to keep his nails and beak trimmed. He is quite the bird! So keep yours amused and not bored they should quiet down. We'd love to have another one but they are hard to find. We got ours cage and all for $100 back in 1971!

Amanda - 2012-04-15

I have a red headed amazon bird named Tupac (7 years old), as a favor to my dear sister, who is in between homes and cannot have a bird. I stepped up to take care of Tupac, (in which, I love to death). I have always been his favorite, due to the attention I give him. He thinks I am his mate, and clearly protects me to the fullest.

My issue is: my sister was stuck with him through her ex boyfriend, who just didn't want or understand the life long commitment a bird requires. My sister took him in and we've cared for him ever since (past tense, when we both lived at home with mom). Now I have him in my apartment building, just as a favor to my sister. My sister can't give him the care and attention he needs, as well as I can't either. She doesn't have the heart to come to terms with finding a home for Tupac. Whether it's now, or 3 years from now, I am realistic in what's to happen.

I just need some advice on where is the best place to bring him, (when it's time to give him up). I will literally kill myself if I gave him to someone who mistreated him, or neglected him. I spoke to some pet stores, but my gutt is telling me, that's not the right home for him.

If I had my own house, I swear I would let him stay with me for life, but I don't and my poor boyfriend is suffering also. He is not a fan of birds and for me, he is trying to build a relationship with Tupac, but it just not working. I also have gotten 2 noise complaints due to my ill Tupac squawking (I dont even know if I am allowed to have a bird in my building). My boyfriend and I both work long hours and we dont have the time to give him the attention he needs. The second I get home, I give him 2 hours of attention, before I go to bed. I know that's not a lot, but I honestly can say I am doing the best I can.

Any comments or suggesting will help.

Amanda and Tupac

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-04-16
    Hard one - I am really not keen on a pet store either except for a couple I know which I know are GREAT. You can place an ad in the paper and then meet the person that TUPAC will find a new home with. My concern here is his attachment to you, as he just might not go to another person and allow himself to be handled by a stranger. Again, I do not know where you live but TUPAC can get married. There are many excellent breeders that do look for single birds and will house and find a mate for your TUPAC. There aqre also sanctuaries - some good and some not great at all. Where do you live - just the state? 1. person purchases Tupac 2. You give Tupac to a breeder in matrimony 3. Santuary - which would get him used to other people and they place with homes.
  • Jane and don Trunkey - 2012-05-02
    Hello. We have a female. Red crested amazon that would love a mate!!she is about 25. And is twitipating. Now that is a spring!! Can we get together. Near Portland Org.
  • Amanda - 2012-07-02
    Dear Mr. Roche, I did not get any email notification that you responded to my posting a while back, but thank you so much. I appreciate your suggestions and I like what you’re saying (by the way, I live in Queens, New York). If you can kindly direct me in any way to places in the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania area that would be a trustworthy place to bring him- that would mean a lot to me. Tupac is EXTREMELY attached to me, however, he loves 'all eyes on him” type of attention, so him getting used to someone else i personally don’t think that would be a huge issue- For example: If there are 5 people in a room Tupac will not be satisfied, until every single person has acknowledged him and he gets passed around from person to person. LOL I never heard of birds getting married? Over all, if Tupac is happy I am just about willing to do whatever I have to do to make sure he gets the best life that he deserves. He is a really special bird and I hate that this is our situation. It is a horrible feeling to love him so much, but not be able to give him what he needs. Truly breaks my heart! Thank you for your help. Sincerely, Amanda