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Lilac-crowned Amazon

Finsch's Amazon

Family: PsittacidaeLilac-crowned Amazon or Finsch's Amazon, Amazona finschiAmazona finschiPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Rosie
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I have had my lilac for 14 years and he/she has been such a joy to have. Mine is very quiet unless he/she feels it's time to change food or water. When I first... (more)  Anonymous

   The Lilac-crowned Amazon is a smaller amazon, but makes up in energy what it lacks in size!

   The Lilac-crowned Amazon Amazona finschi is also known as Finsch's Amazon. It has been recognized for well over 100 years, documented as early as 1864 by Dr. Otto Finsch. Dr. Finsch wrote well over 400 works on ornithology and this beautiful little amazon parrot is named for him.

   The name Lilac-crowned comes from its looks. This is one of the smaller amazons reaching about 13" (33 cm) long, but a very colorful bird. The "lilac" namesake comes the pretty lilac colored crown accented by a red brown forehead and lores. The lilac extends onto the neck and circles around its yellow-green cheeks.

   An Amazon bird with similar type markings and color is the Green-cheeked Amazon A. viridigenalis, yet in comparison each has its unique color and pattern distinctions. The red on Lilac-crowned Amazon is a bit darker and doesn't extend past the eyes. On the Green-cheeked, the red extends past the eyes onto the crown in varying amounts. The Lilac-crowned also has more dramatic appearance to its chest feathering. Edged in black, the feathers look scalloped while the Green-cheek's are more uniform.

   This dynamic little amazon is a fair talker and makes a fine pet. But though the Lilac-crowned Amazon is affectionate and clever, it is also very lively. This active, energetic birdneeds lots of activities and will do best spending a good portion of its time outside of its cage where it can climb, play, and fly for exercise. They do very well in an aviary which gives them more room on a regular basis.

   Like most amazons the Finsch's Amazon is very social, enjoying the companionship of people as well as other amazons. They make a wonderful companion and will quickly form a strong bond with their owner.

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


Geographic Distribution
Amazona finschi
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Data provided by GBIF.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Amazona
  • Species: finschi
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Scientific name

   Amazona finschi - Subspecies:

  • Lilac-crowned Amazon - common species
    Amazona finschi finschi
  • Sonora Lilac-crowned Amazon - rarer subspecies; slightly larger, somewhat duller in color, and a narrower forehead.
    Amazona finschi woodi

Distribution

   The Lilac-crowned Amazon Amazona finschi was first described by Sclater in 1864. It is also known as Finsch's Amazon, named by Dr. P.L. Sclater in honor of Dr. Otto Finsch, who documented this Amazon and wrote over 400 works on ornithology.

   It is native to the Pacific slopes of Western Mexico. In the wild they live in large flocks, sometimes several hundreds of these birds massed closely together. These flocks are quite conspicuous and noisy. They inhabit wooded foothills and mountains, plains, grain fields, and banana plantations. They feed on wild figs, berries, seeds, nuts, and the blossoms and leafy buds of treetop foliage.

Status

   The Amazona finschi is on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species as Vulnerable (VU).

Description

   The Lilac-crowned Amazon or Finsch's Amazon has green plumage though more yellow on the underparts. The feathers of the neck and upper sides are edged in black giving it a scalloped appearance that resembles an African Gray. The forehead and lores back to the eyes are a red brown. There is a blue mauve on the crown and neck making a half moon shape around the cheeks, which are a yellowish-green. The outer feathers of the wings are edged in a violet blue, there is a red speculum, and the tail is tipped with a yellow-green. The eye is orange, the beak is horn-colored, and the legs are greenish-gray.

   Juveniles are similar to the adults but their eyes are dark brown. Mature birds are about 13 inches (33 cm) long from the head to the tip of the tail. The average lifespan of the Lilac-crowned Amazon or Finsch's Amazon is 40 to 60 years.

Care and feeding

   In the wild these birds eat fruits (they are especially fond of figs), seeds, nuts, berries, blossoms, corn, and bananas. 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. Avocado and chocolate are toxic to any parrot.

   For more about the Amazon parrot diet, see Amazon Parrots: Care and Feeding

Housing

   A roomy cage is required for the Lilac-crowned Amazon as they are very active. They need to spend a good deal of their time outside of their cage or be housed in an aviary. The cage must not be too confining, so get one that your pet will be able to feel comfortable in. 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.

   They love to be out of their cage on a playpen, and will enjoy interacting with their human as well as playing with toys. This parrot likes to climb and play, and enjoys expanding its wings. A great thing to have is a hanging perch above a playpen topped cage, for climbing.

   The Finsch's Amazon can tolerate varying temperatures, but needs to be kept away from any drafts. 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. 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.

Maintenance

   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

   In the wild, Lilac-crowned Amazons gather in large flocks of two or three hundred birds, except during breeding season. They also form permanent pairs when they are sexually mature. These parrots enjoy human interaction as well as interaction with other birds. They like to be greeted when you come into the room. The more your amazon is around people, the more socialized it is and the more it will interact and play with you. You will establish a greater attachment between you and your feathered friend the more you are together.

Picture of a Lilac-crowned Amazon or Finsch's Amazon Lilac-crowned Amazon Photo Courtesy Jamie Wertz, The Tweetery

Handling/Training

   The Lilac-crowned Amazon will adapt fairly rapidly, becoming accustomed to a new environment and its keeper. It 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 Blue Front parrot see: Amazon Parrot Care: Handling and Training

Activities

   The Lilac-crown is a very active amazon. It needs a lot of time out of its cage to stretch its wings, although climbing seems to be its favorite activity. It needs plenty of toys to keep it busy, and a hanging perch is thoroughly enjoyed. A moveable perch that can follow you around the house is also great. This Amazon likes to play, loves to wrangle with toys, and is quite an acrobat. They entertain themselves quite well and you will enjoy it.

Sexing - Sexual Differences

   Lilac-crowned Amazons or Finsch's 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.

Breeding/Reproduction

   These Amazons are commonly bred in captivity, and have been for a number of years. One early breeding success related by Rosemary Low, was accomplished by Mrs. F. Hubbel in San Diego as early as 1954. The Lilac-crowned Amazon or Finsch's Amazon 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.

   At the onset of warm weather (April to early May) courtship will begin. The hen will then lay three eggs which incubate for about 26 - 28 days. The young will leave the nest at about 8 weeks. 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

   The Lilac-crowned Amazon or Finsch's Amazon can be noisy early in the morning and when the sun is setting. This usually lasts for about 10 minutes. It is just waking up and letting you know it is up or getting ready for bed. 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 Lilac-crowned 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.

Availability

   The Lilac-crowned Amazon or Finsch's Amazon is readily available and it should be easy to find one in a pet store or from breeders in your area.

References

Author: Clarice Brough CAS
Lastest Animal Stories on Lilac-crowned Amazon

Anonymous - 2014-02-03
I have had my lilac for 14 years and he/she has been such a joy to have. Mine is very quiet unless he/she feels it's time to change food or water. When I first rescued my friend from an abusive owner there was no handling. I tried the glove approach boy was that a mistake! So I moved forward with a wooden perch to teach my lilac the step up routine. Still to this day I cannot just reach in the cage and and ask my bird to step up, he/she runs from me but if I stick the perch in there it isn't an issue, he/she steps right on it. I don't know if the previous owner scared my friend for life and now my feathered friend will always have trust issues. I am able to hold my bird if he/she is not near the cage. My feathered friend is very protective of me and will attack if he/she feels I'm being hurt. My husband and I were play fighting and my bird flew off the cage and attacked him and still to this day protects momma. I have my lilac in a very large cage with a double yellow nape and they are very good friends. With a little love and a lot of time you can train your feathered friend/friends but you have to be commited or a bird lover.

Reply
John & Betty - 2009-11-07
Peabody is now 7 1/2 years old and she still manages to surprize us daily.

We had just lost our 12 year old Sun Conure, Sammy, and decided about 6 months later that it was just too quiet around the house. I researched parrots and thought the Lilac Crowned Amozon had all the traits we were looking for. Active, intelligent, social - the species seemed too good to be true. Then we received a call from Animal Lovers telling us they were about to begin hand feeding a new Lilac Crowned. My wife dashed to the store and immediately fell in love with Peabody and her tiny little eyelashes. We visited her almost every day while she was being weaned and brought her home several months later.

Peabody (we discovered she was a female about two months after we named her) took to her new home and to us immediately. She bonded with both my wife and I but interacts with us in very different ways.

Betty is the comforter; Peabody comes to her for cuddles when she's apprehensive or lonely. She won't let Betty eat a piece of toast unless she gets a piece too.

I'm the playmate; she bops about when I return from work, tells me all about her day and loves to play a few rounds of "box the birdie" (not nearly as violent as it sounds - Peabody reaches out with her claws and trys to grab my hand - but it really does look like we're boxing!)

Peabody has a vocabulary of about 100 words and phrases, fairly large for a Lilac crowned, we're told, and loves to whistle the theme to "Bridge Over the River Kwai" while bobbing her head in time to the beat. Unfortuately, I'm not the best whistler and she has managed to capture my errors to perfection!

We had to board her for several months while we remodeled earlier this year. The caregivers told us that she learned how to "meow" (there were kittens in a cage across from her). We never heard her "catcall" at the store or after we brought her home. About six weeks later, Betty called to tell me that Peabody was trying to get her attention in the usual ways but she was immersed in a project and ignored her. Then she heard a little kitten cry. That caught her attention and she looked up just in time to see Peabody begin a string of plaintiff meows. Apparently this is her way to get our attention when all else fails!

I guess you can tell we really do love our little parrot...we are so lucky to have her in our lives.

Reply
Susan Rinehart - 2010-08-21
I adopted "Cody" from Tucson Avian Rescue Assn. (TARA) in August 2009. He had been through two owners previously. The first owners were apparently drug dealers, who one day tossed the poor bird between themselves, like playing with a ball! As a result, his left wing is permanently damaged, and he will never fly. Her other owner was a truck driver, who used to take the parrot on cross country trips. His home was in Phoenix. Somehow, Cody made his way to Tucson, and into the rescue. Once I saw him, I fell in love with him. We guesstimate his age to be around 8 years old. We brought him home, and he adapted very quickly to our routine. He is a one-person bird. I am his mate, and if my husband tries to interact with him, Cody lunges at him. This bird is my very best friend. He loves to get his head scratched and massaged before he goes to birdy bed. He rides on my shoulder, and loves to sit on a perch in the computer room with me. He just loves being with me, and I would recommend a LCA to anyone who loves a sweet companion, and a true friend for life. Cody can be noisy, especially if he wants to get on my shoulder if I am busy, or when he is waiting for his favorite meal of fresh peas. But that is a small price to pay when I consider what a pleasure he is to share life with, and I can be happy knowing he is in a much better environment than he was before.

Reply
Kathleen Bartholomew - 2005-04-14
I lived with a Lilac Crown for 20 years. Harry was incredibly clever, and the most affectionate parrot I ever met. He never got aggressive, even in breeding season - just very, very amorous! He tolerated a large family, was learning constantly throughout his life, and was in all ways the most marvellous animal I ever shared my life with.

I recommend the LCA for anyone who wants an affectionate parrot.

Reply
gg - 2012-11-28
I have a LHA and he is a biter. I have had him for 7 months now. I have only recently tried to handle him. I have to wear gloves which he does not like but after being bitten a few times I am leary. He seems to like when I pet him with the gloves on but it is a stuggle. He hates change. He does like to be out of the cage and seems content. He pulls at his beak with his foot I was wondering if that is a frustration or a normal behavior? Can anyone give me some pointers?

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-11-28
    Looking like he is pulling his beak with his toe is normal or putting their toe in a nostril (which looks totally silly) - actually just playing with their feet is normal.  In my experience birds are terrified of hats and gloves almost all the time.  I would take the gloves off and try making friends without gloves instead.  Try feeding her treats with your hand.  Treats can be cheerios, peanut, sunflower kernel - most amazons love things like pizza or a piece of chicken also.  Talk to her, be around her, let her be out of her cage.  Learn her body language and what makes her happy, sad or mad.  Let her watch cartoons on TV or watch TV with you.  Tell her what you are doing like 'I am making supper or I am feeding you or hello'    Couple of questions if you feel like answering them.  Do you know how old she is?  Has she been handled before?  Why wait 7 months = cuz she had not been handled?  Gloves would be very frightening to her.
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