Animal-World > Birds > Amazon Parrots > Double Yellow-Headed Amazon

Double Yellow-headed Amazon

Yellow-headed Amazon, Yellow-headed Parrot

Family: Psittacidae Double Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix, also called Yellow-headed Amazon or Yellow-headed ParrotAmazona oratrixPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
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At what age should a double yellow amazon be ok to mate? I have a 3 yr old and he is showing signs.  Zah Hosein

Double Yellow-Headed Amazons are excellent talkers and frequently sing very well too!

The Double Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix, is an extremely intelligent, attractive and entertaining parrot. Also known as the Yellow-headed Amazon and Yellow-headed Parrot, this is a prize bird that is particularly handsome with a high aptitude for speaking. While young these mostly green birds have only a yellow forehead and maybe a dappling of yellow across the rest of the head. The completely yellow head of mature birds takes place through molting over a period of about 4 years. The adult is a lively, spectacular colored pet bird.

The Yellow-headed Amazon has been popular as a pet for several 100 years. These birds are very inquisitive. They are definitely not a timid or shy bird and are known to be drama queens/kings. The Double Yellow Headed Amazon will usually attach itself to one member of the family as a mate but will tolerate the other members of the family as part of the flock.

Similar to other Amazons they are very sociable and active, but with them it's to an unusual degree. Depending on the individual bird, Double Yellow-headed Amazons can have an incredible vocabulary. They are considered the best talkers of all the Amazon birds, and second only to the African Grey Parrots. These parrots also strongly desire the attention of their owners, and will perform all sorts of amusing antics to gain and keep it. Such things as fanning out their tails, quick wild head movements, turning their head upside down, and rapid in-out dilations of their pupils.

This particular amazon can be feisty. Early socialization and training will help alleviate that to a great degree. The Yellow-headed Amazon is very social on the one hand, enjoying its human companion and their company. Yet on the other hand it can be quite independent, needing and wanting alone time and its own territory. A human needs to understand their birds' body language. If they are not in the mood for company or interaction, they will let you know. . Learn when its head is down and its beak and wings are in position, that it means "NO", and if you are persistent you might get nipped. The Yellow-headed Amazon is also prone to a hormonal stage as it matures, which is why they are recommended for an experienced bird owner.

With the Double Yellow Head you get the best of both worlds. A parrot that will enjoy the interaction with its human, eating and playing or even watching television. Yet it can also entertain itself without being demanding, content just playing with its toys, for hours at a time.

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

Geographic Distribution
Amazona oratrix
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  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Amazona
  • Species: oratrix
Double Yellow-headed Amazon

Report Broken Video
Double Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot Singing

Double Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot singing Yo Ho - A Pirate's Life

Scientific name

Amazona oratrix oratrix
Previously: Amazona ochrocephala oratrix

Amazona oratrix oratrix (Ridgway, 1887)
Amazona oratrix tresmariae (Nelson, 1900)

More recently the birds in the ochrocephala group have been under review, with some classification adjustments being made. In in 1991, a recommendation to reclassify this group was made by the Committee on Classification and Nomenclature of the American Ornithologists' Union. This has resulted in the Amazona ochrocephela now being identified as the Yellow-crowned Amazon only. The Yellow-naped Amazon is now described as Amazona auropalliata, and the Yellow-headed Amazon is now Amazona Oratrix.


The Double Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix was first described by Ridgway in 1887. It is also known as the Yellow-headed Amazon and Yellow-headed Parrot. It is native to central and northwestern areas of Central America, the coastal regions of Mexico. In the wild they live in pairs or flocks, and are sometimes seen singly. They inhabit forests, savannahs along the forest edge, and wooded areas where they feed on fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, and the blossoms and leafy buds of foliage.

The Amazona oratrix has three recognized subspecies, and a couple others that are not:

  • Tres Marias Amazon - Tres Marie Yellow-headed Amazon A. oratrix tresmariae
    This subspecies from the Islas Marías is more colorful. Its color shows a brilliant yellow which extends onto its chest and intermittently down to the start of the tail. It has a vivid red on the bend of the wing and is also missing the black barring on the shoulders.
  • Belize Yellow-headed Amazon A. oratrix belizensis
    This subspecies is found widespread in coastal Belize. This Yellow-headed Amazon, is yellow only on the upper head to a line from lores to earspot, including the upper cheeks.
  • Honduras Yellow-headed Amazon A. oratrix hondurensis
    This subspecies is found in the Sula Valley, Honduras. Its yellow coloration is only on the fore head and the nape.
  • Greater Yellow Headed Amazon - Magna Amazon A. oratrix Magna
    Another race, the Magna Yellow-headed Amazon A. oratrix Magna, is from the Gulf slope of Mexico. It is not a recognized subspecies. Say it is smaller and the variations in color are a result of location. It looks identical to the nominate species as a juvenile, and does have the black barring on the shoulders as an adult.
  • Yellow-headed Parrot A. oratrix guatemalensis
    The guatemalensis s found in north-western Honduras and adjacent eastern Guatemala It is also not a recognized subspecies, but resembles the Belize Amazon A. oratrix belizensi so is commonly included in the subspecies. It may be an undescribed subspecies.


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


The Double Yellow-headed Amazon is generally green with paler, more yellowish on the under parts. The entire head and throat are yellow and the bend of the wing is red with some yellow mixed in. The carpal edge and thighs are yellow. The ring around the eye is unfeathered and white. The iris of the eye is orange and the beak is horned colored turning gray towards the base on the upper mandible.

Yellow-headed Amazons are surprisingly heavy bodied. Mature birds are a bit larger than other Yellow-crowned Amazons , these Amazons reach 15 -17 inches (38- 43 cm) long from the head to the tip of the tail. Maturity is considered in the 4 - 5 year range and the life span for these creatures is 60 - 80 years.

Lutino and blue variations of the Yellow-headed Amazon have been produced in aviculture as well as a myriad of other combinations. This species will hybridize with other yellow Amazons in nature. So the exact feathering and color in the wild as well as in captivity can be quite different in each bird.

The immature bird has only a patch of yellow on the forehead with maybe a dappling of yellow across the rest of the head, and less red at the bend of the wing. The completely yellow head of mature birds takes place through molting over a period of about 4 years.

Care and feeding

In the wild, the diet of the Double Yellow-headed Amazon consists of fruits, plants, seeds and nuts and probably some protein. 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.

Louis is a juvenile Yellow-headed Amazon, Amazona oratrixYellow-headed Amazon (juvenile) Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough

"Louis" is a juvenile Double Yellow-headed Amazon
about four and a half months old. When he (or she)
gets older the entire head and throat will be yellow.
Lou is headed to being a great talker since he is
very vocal and already seems to be forming words!

Plenty of human food that is nutritious can be offered, and they like chicken. They like to eat at the table and enjoy eating with their family. Avocado and chocolate are toxic to any parrot. They will let you know when it's dinner time.


A roomy cage is required for the Double Yellow-headed Amazons. 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 2 1/2 to 5 feet high, and with a play pen top. A great thing is to have a hanging perch above that for climbing.

Yellow-headed Parrots 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.

Learn to have fun during bath time. Whether you spritz your amazon with water or an aloe spritz, or just put him in the kitchen sink, make it fun. Your amazon will teach you how he likes to be bathed.


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.

Social Behaviors

The Yellow Headed Amazon enjoys human interaction as well as interaction with other birds. In the wild they are very social birds living in groups with the available food supply determining the size of the group. Many times there are several hundred seen in a group. They also form permanent pairs when they are sexually mature. However, they are also seen singly in the wild, which may be the reason for their more independent nature.

If you are looking for a quiet, shy, timid bird, this amazon is not for you. It is a highly social bird who loves to be the center of attention. They will learn tricks, and learn to play tricks on you. They look forward to interaction and games and will provide you with many fun moments and a lot of laughter.


The Double Yellow Headed 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.

"They love to learn and find their humans to be quite entertaining at times. I would say to my Double Yellow Head "I'm a bird, I can fly. I'm a bat I lay down'. While saying this I would hold her high in the air and let her flap her wings and then I would lay her gently down in the palm of my hand and let her rest there. This taught her to land on my hand in the air and to lie down on her back. She enjoyed the game and she learned"... Cheryl Galloway

For information about training your Yellow-headed Amazon see: Amazon Parrot Care: Handling and Training


The Yellow-headed Parrot is an active bird and needs plenty of toys, and a hanging perch would be great. A moveable perch that can follow you around the house is almost a requirement. It likes to play, will make its own music and dance, and is quite an acrobat. They entertain themselves quite well and you will enjoy it.

Sexing - Sexual Differences

Double Yellow Headed Amazons are not sexually dimorphic, females look like males. If gender identification is important (for example for breeding birds) DNA / Feather or surgical sexing is recommended.


These Amazons are commonly bred in captivity. They must be mature, 4 - 5 years of age. 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.

At the onset of warm weather (April to early May) courtship will begin. The hen will then lay two to five eggs which incubate for about 28 days. The young will leave the nest at 8-9 weeks old. As with many parrots, the male will eat for both himself and the female while she incubates the eggs and feeds the young. The male regurgitates the food for the female to eat. He gets a lot less picky about what he eats at these times.

Potential Problems

In the wild, amazons will call out to each other first thing in the morning and then again as the sun is setting. So early in the morning your Double Yellow Headed Amazon will be calling for you and he will warn you when the sun sets that it's bed time. These two periods of the day, which usually last about 10 minutes, can be a little noisy with an Amazon. These parrots 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 Yellow Headed 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 Double Yellow Headed Amazon is readily available and it should be easy to find one in a pet store or from breeders in your area. They can be rather expensive.


Author: Clarice Brough CAS, Cheryl Galloway
Lastest Animal Stories on Double Yellow-Headed Amazon

Zah Hosein - 2013-12-09
At what age should a double yellow amazon be ok to mate? I have a 3 yr old and he is showing signs.

  • Clarice Brough - 2013-12-10
    Breeding age for Amazon parrots is approximately 3-5 years old.
  • fay lees - 2014-06-23
    we have 2 amazons one is 10 which dont talk and has got a bad habit of pulling her feathers out, my husband got her of a friend that couldnt look after her,we bought an other 1 which is a male who is 4, he talks alot(dont shut up).we been asking if the 10 yr old is to old to mate, some parrot experts says yes and others so no,has anyone ever mated theirs at 10 yrs old?
  • Clarice Brough - 2014-06-27
    Amazons reach sexual maturity at 4 - 5 years of age. Often around 5 - 6 years, it they don't have a mate, they will go through some teenage type behaviors for a year or more before settling down. They do best if they have a companion/friend in the same area, often with each in its own cage. They are not the easiest birds to breed, and  one of the biggest challenges in captivity is getting a mature pair to bond. Once they have bonded with a mate, they can breed from many years, (even beyond age 25), and healthy birds can live for up to about 50 years.
Christopher Gordon - 2007-06-14
Sammy is my male double yellow headed amazon parrot, and he was hatched in 1991. I got him when he was 7 years old, and as of the date of this comment, we've been together 9 years and he's currently 16 years old. He was rather overweight when I first got him (I don't know much about his past, and his hatch-year I got from tracing his leg band ID), but with a big change in diet and exercise, he slimmed down from about 600 grams to abou 460 grams. He has a King's cage model 306 (meant for macaws) with toys I rotate monthly. Sammy is fully-flighted and has been for most of the 9 years I've had him. He is getting better at coming when called (we have structured training sessions for this), and is a joy to me. However, he's very much a one-person bird, and can be rather aggressive toward anyone else who comes near him (or me, if he's out with me). This could be prevented if he was socialized better, but most of the people in my life aren't bird-people, so it's hard to get him to be friendly with others. He gets a home-made base diet that has about 2/3 China Prairie sprouts (a mix of various hulled seeds and legumes) and 1/3 veggie mash (a mix I make myself, including "frozen mixed veggies", various fruits, dark greens, and high beta carotene veggies, along with some diced tofu and ground hard-boiled eggs with shell, kept frozen in ziplock bags), mixed together in his food dish with a sprinkling of a green powder from China Prairie that has spirulina, kelp, alfalfa, chlorella, mineral clay, and lots of other good stuff. He gets other healthy treats and an in-shell walnut or two almonds each day as well. He's unusually snuggly (with me) for an amazon, plays well with his toys, and can be very entertainingly vocal. I haven't tried teaching him specific words or phrases, but he's picked up lots over the years on his own, including calling my name (Chris). All in all, he's been a joy in my life, and I look forward to a few more decades with him.

  • julie wiggins - 2010-02-19
    My dyh is 6 and I live alone so I very much wanted her to be social. So I have brought her to work on Fridays all these years and last year she got very aggressive with several people. I ran into the breeder and she said it sounds like you have a male. Where I bought her from the certificate said female but I took her to my vet and did another dna. Indeed she was a he. The advice I received was to not bring him to work anymore and to leave him home where he was happy and not stressed. It saddened me though because I adore him/her so I just wanted to share her and have her where if something ever happened to me that she would be easily adoptable.

    I still refer to Gypsy as she because so much of her vocabulary is good girl, such a pretty girl etc.
    I have a Quaker (feather plucker) and an African Meyer but Gypsy is my favorite, she is really a companion
Tashia - 2003-11-03
I have had my parrot for about 14 or 15 years and it is the most wonderful pet in the world to own. He says various words and phrases and even mimmicks my laugh.....they are such a joy to have around.

Lucy Molina - 2010-03-20
I have a double yellow headed amazon and he will be 22 years old in May of this year. I have had him since he was a very ugly baby without feathers and he is now a beautiful bird. He's a very happy bird, except when you play the radio and he does not approve of the music, well, the whole neighborhood can hear him complain. Change the station to what he wants that particular day and he starts whistling. He's adorable. I have a slight problem that he has bitten through three cages already and I'm not talking about flimsy ones. He has a very strong beak. He doesn't bite me, but he loves to tear these things up; I guess he wants to get out, but I let him out sometimes and he goes right back to his cage. Funny little thing. Love Popcorn. (that's his name)

  • Anonymous - 2010-08-15
    Three cages! Are they made of wood :) Seriously.
Vince - 2004-12-14
Double Yellow Headed Amazons are a great companion, but to understand and co-exist with this species you must understand they must have their personal space. They have a "bubble" that surrounds them and if you understand and respect the amazon quirks these parrots can be a great companion. At least in my expereiance.

RITA - 2005-10-13
Hi, have just acquired a wonderful double yellow-naped amazon (Jazz) she is just great. After having been with people who rarely interacted with her she was given to a wonderful "bird rescue" lady. At that time you could not get near her at all but with gentle handling she came around in two weeks. I brought her home and just sat next to cage for a while but was soon handling her, we made friends. I also have an Umbrella Cockatoo and Blue Front Amazon. I enjoy their calls and speech, share meals with them, couldn't ask for better companions. Got to go and get them up for our breakfast and chit chat session. Thanks for all the information Rita


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