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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I have a 3-year old boy red head and green amazon. I think it is time for him to find a girl friend. The problem is I have no information as to where to find her.... (more)  david huang

   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

david huang - 2015-06-30
I have a 3-year old boy red head and green amazon. I think it is time for him to find a girl friend. The problem is I have no information as to where to find her. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot. David Huang

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!

  • N. Smith - 2015-06-01
    Ihave a green cheek male who is 27 years old. Cage by window. watches everything and growls when someone drives up, and hollows hello when phone rings. A good talker. Tells me,lights out, night night darling and leaving for work or to shop, bye, bye, I be right back, ok? I bought the egg for $450.oo and hatched him out with help of pet store in Houston, Tx. I keep Band aid in business, he does Bite, liks people food
Anonymous - 2015-03-13
the birds are cool but the bite alot and it poops on me

Principessa Elieth Azucena Bracamonte - 2015-02-10
Hello... I have a green-cheeked amazon too😊. My mom got him for me when i was 18. He was just a baby. Very adorable and very sweet. We named him 'Jack' after jack dawlson from the titanic.  He's such a talker. He speaks english and spanish. When i come home from school he always greats me really happy saying 'Hi'.  He's a very free bird. He's  always out his cage day and night. My mom and i dont believe in keeping him locked in a cage. We think its cruel. He's part of the family. Eats tortillas and fruit everytime we sit down for a meal. We always make sure his wings are clipped so he doesnt fly away when we take him outside. One day my mom knew his wings were a little long and it was time for a triming, but she took him out anyway. Jack flew up into a tree of our appartments. We couldnt get him down. He kept flying everywhere experiencing the outside like the free bird that he was. It was four in the afternoon on a hot summer day. We lost him out of sight his green feathers blended in too much. We called his name and nothing. Very devistated and looking until late that evening we decided to contimue the search in the morning. Mom woke me up at 5am to continue looking. We brought his cage out into a big clearing. I made fliers with his picture and a high reward. Looked all day and still nothing. A lot of people saw him and heard him in the appartments next to ours. We followed his trail.... There was a day care that said the little kids saw him in a tree while they were playing outside. They called animal control but what was to be done? How can you catch a bird? 24 hrs had passed and i was exausted of lookimg and walking far and wide. I was too depressed, too sad, too heartbroken to continue. Im ashamed to say that i gave up. Around 5pm that same day mom came home from work  and contined the search alone. I couldnt go anymore.... She called his name where they last saw him... And then i got a phone call... He recognized moms voice and started flying around looking for her as well... I immediatly went with my aunt, uncle, amd little cousin to help her.   She saw him he was on top of a tree next to the railroad tracks all the way on the other side of the apppartments next to ours. He was hard to see but there he was very high up. I ran to a chineese restaurant on the other side of the tracks and ordered white rise and five plates...ran back to mom and sat down pretending to have dinner in the middle of the tracks. Speaking to jack telling him to come down and telling him how yummy the food was... He flew straight down into my arms and i held him tightly. His beak was green from eating leafs. I thanked god and my mom for having strenght and not giving up. I took him to the vet the next day emergency visit. I told her what had happened and she couldnt believe we got him back. Its very rare get a bird back once they leave. His health was good. No enjuries thank god. My mom learned her lesson and made sure jack always has his wings clipped. Hes doing great now. Last labor day of 2014 we tooking him camping with us for the first time. We went  from indianapolis where we live up Erie. Then the last day we dicided to make the trip to niagara falls... No worries jack didnt fly away his wings were clipped... He was and never has been in a carrier always on my shoulder or my hand... He was everyones attaction..lots of people wanted to take pictures with him... And he was such a talker... Saying hi to everyone and even playing peek-a-boo with three little kids. Im so blessed to have such a great companion. I love him so much. He will be 7 on April 23 of this year.  Thanks for reading about us... I will keep you guys updated on how hes's doing and what other crazy adventurous trips we take next! 

-Elieth Azucena Bracamonte

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-02-14
    What a great story! I love your method of catching your run-away Jack with rice, even if it was in the middle of a railroad track. I get called to help rescue birds that have gotten loose on occasion, and I'm going to keep that idea in mind! Very clever! And so glad you are all still having such great adventures.
  • Principessa Elieth Azucena Bracamonte - 2015-02-15
    Thanks, glad you liked it. Yeah jack is very crazy he likes to be way tomfree... Today when i came home i foumd him on the floor walking around in my room... I picked him up and tried to put him on his perch but he woundnt let go of my finger its like he was telling me he missed me and didnt want to be alone... Intried going to the kitchen to put groceries away and he flew to me... He just missed me i guess...either way i felt so much love when he did that! He brings such happiness to my life. I love him like a child that ive never had! :)
  • Clarice Brough - 2015-02-15
    Well kudo's to you both! What a great friend you have:)
david huang - 2015-06-30
I have a 3-year old boy red head and green amazon. I think it is time for him to find a girl friend. The problem is I have no information as to where to find her. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot. David Huang