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Panama Yellow-headed AmazonFamily: Psittacidae"Peppy"Amazona panamensisPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Cheryl Galloway
The Panama Amazon is greatly admired for it's incredible talking ability!
The Panama Amazon Amazona panamensis, is also known as the Panama Yellow-fronted Amazon. Though rarer than the other popular amazons, they have become a more popular pet in recent years. This is a subspecies of the Yellow-crowned Amazon Amazona ochrocephala. Both of these Amazons are green birds with a green forehead yielding to a yellow marking on the crown. Their very similar in coloration often leads to confusion. Differences are subtle, with the Panama Amazon being a bit smaller, a darker shade of green, and lacking the reddish-orange spot on the upper mandible (beak) that is seen on the Yellow-fronted Amazon.
There are also a couple of other very similar Amazon parrots and it can be difficult to tell any of these Amazon birds apart when they are juveniles. One is the Double Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix, whose entire head becomes yellow as it matures. Another is the Yellow-naped Amazon Amazona auropalliata, which has yellow markings on the nape of the neck rather than on the crown. The yellow marking on these parrots develop with each molt over a period of about four years. Besides coloring, there are also some other distinctions between these Amazons. They differ in such things as body size, temperament, and talking ability too. Knowing which pet bird you are getting helps you know what to expect.
The Panama Yellow-fronted Amazon is quite intelligent, inquisitive, and affectionate. Their high intelligence makes them easy to tame and train. With a naturally playful nature, they will soon become fun and entertaining pet birds They will quickly begin to mimic sounds and become an excellent talker. They are very social, enjoy companionship, and become fast friends with their owner. They make great pets for devoted individuals and families.
Panama Amazons are robust birds and will do well in either a cage with a playpen on top, or in an aviary. They are very active birds that like to climb and need plenty of chewing toys. Adding a hanging perch mounted above a playpen is great place for climbing. They do enjoy interaction and spending time with human companions, but enjoy time alone as well. They are quite content to entertain themselves for hours at a time just playing with their toys.
For more information about Amazon Birds see:
Amazon Parrot: Information and Care
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.
Distribution The Yellow-crowned Amazon Amazona ochrocephala was first described by Gmelin in 1788. The Panama Amazon Amazona panamensis is a subspecies of the Yellow-crowned Amazon. It is also called the Panama Yellow-fronted Amazon.
The Panama Amazons are native western Panama, the Pearl Islands and Coiba, and northwest Columbia. In the wild they live in pairs or flocks, and are sometimes seen singly. They inhabit open woodlands and tropical zones areas where they feed on fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, and the blossoms and leafy buds of foliage.
Description The Panama Amazon or Panama Yellow-fronted Amazon has an overall green coloring with red on the bend of the wing. The forehead and forecrown are yellow, making a triangular shaped patch. Above the eyes and bordering the yellow patch is bluish green. The eye is orange surrounded by an unfeathered white ring. The beak is more of a bone coloring with gray on the upper part of the top mandible. Sometimes it has a dark tip, but lacks the reddish-orange spot on the upper mandible (beak) that is seen on the nominate Yellow-fronted Amazon. The feet are gray.
Juveniles are a paler green with less of the yellows and reds. The completely yellow head of mature birds takes place through molting over a period of about 4 years. Panama Amazons are rather heavy bodied. A smaller amazon, mature birds are about 13 - 14" (33 - 35 cm) long from the head to the tip of the tail. They reach maturity in about the 4 - 5 year range with a lifespan of 60 - 80 years.
Care and feeding In the wild, the diet of the Panama Amazon consists of fruits, berries, plants, seeds and nuts. 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. They like to eat at the table and enjoy eating with their family. Avocado and chocolate are toxic to any parrot.
Housing The Panama Amazon parrot cage must not be too confining, so get one that your pet will be able to feel comfortable in. A roomy cage is required, 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.
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.
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 The Panama Yellow-fronted Amazon enjoys human interaction as well as interaction with other birds. In the wild they are very social birds living in groups. They are seen either in pairs or flocks, from small groups to flocks of several hundred birds. They also form permanent pairs when they are sexually mature.
If you are looking for a quiet bird, an amazon is not for you. It is a highly social bird who loves human companionship, loves to talk, and loves to play. They will learn tricks and look forward to interaction and games. The Panama Amazon will provide you with many fun moments and a lot of laughter.
Handling/Training The Panama 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 Yellow-fronted Parrot see: Amazon Parrot Care: Handling and Training
Activities This Amazon parrot is an active bird and needs plenty of toys. It also needs room to stretch its wings and climbing seems to be a favorite activity. A hanging perch would be great, as well as a moveable perch that can follow you around the house. The Panama 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 Panama 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 can be 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 three to four eggs which incubate for about 26 - 28 days. The young will leave the nest at 8-12 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 These birds are hardy and healthy if provided with a good environment and a good diet. Amazons can be noisy first thing in the morning, and just before the sun sets. This is easy to control, they can often be quieted by just covering their cage for a short period of time.
"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.
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
- drooping wings
- sagging body
- extreme mood changes
- having no appetite
- bulges in feathering
- partially closed or watery eyes
- swelling of the eyelids
- 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)
- chewing flight and tail feathers by juveniles
- beak malformations in chicks
- kidney disease (gout)
- heavy metal poisoning
- lipomas in older birds.
If you notice any of these bird illnesses in your Panama 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 Panama Amazon is rarer in aviculture and not as readily bred. It can be harder to find than some of the other amazons and the cost is also a little more, approximately $900.00, but it is so worth it with its gentle, endearing personality.
- Animal-World References: Pet Birds - Exotic Birds
- Dr. David Alderton, The Atlas of Parrots of the World, T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 1991
- David Alderton, Parrots, Salamander Books, 1999
- Arthur Freud, All About The Parrots, Howell Book House, 1986
- Werner and Susanne Lantermann, Amazon Parrots, Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 1988
- Gail J. Worth, Panama Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala panamensis), Aves International
- Joanie Doss, Amazon FAQ , Up at Six, Last Revised: Sunday, 20-Jul-2008