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Panama Amazon

Panama Yellow-headed Amazon

Family: Psittacidae Panama Amazon or Panama Yellow-fronted Amazon, Amazona panamensis"Peppy"Amazona panamensisPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Cheryl Galloway
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I have a 69 year old Panama Amazon named Micky. He was a refi gee from Katrina and I have had him for four years. He is legally blind, blind in one eye and a bad... (more)  Peggy o

   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

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Amazona
  • Species: panamensis

Scientific name   Amazona panamensis
Syn: Amazona ochrocephala panamensis

   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.

Status   The Amazona ochrocephala is on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species as Least Concern (LC).

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
  • 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 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.


Author: Clarice Brough CAS
Lastest Animal Stories on Panama Amazon

Peggy o - 2014-08-30
I have a 69 year old Panama Amazon named Micky. He was a refi gee from Katrina and I have had him for four years. He is legally blind, blind in one eye and a bad cataract on the other , had a stroke , but is a sweet charming bird. He cannot be picked up but he likes his head rubbed through his cage and occasionally when he is on top of it. He like to put his paw out of the cage and grab onto my finger, first with one paw then the other. He has a repertoire of sayings and talks in a clear loud feminine voice , saying hello, watcha doing, what, and Polly wants a cracker, but his best sounds are his empathy ones. Aww, ohh, and an array of these sounds you would say to make people fel better. He loves to be sung to and at night after being covered if I sing Brahms lullaby, hw will press up against the side of the cage and express his wants and needs by one of those sounds like a long ohhhhh.

Al - 2010-12-05
Captain is my old trusted friend and we have been together now for a little more than 40 years. He was purchased by my mom for me when I was seven from another woman who had him for about 5 years. Our best guess is that he was either wild caught or imported back in the early 60's as he never banded. Captain was never a good talker, but can whistle very well... He eats just about any table foods, but loves peanut butter, corn, peas, chicken, spagetti with sauce, along with his sunflower seed mix. I could never get him to eat pellets, so we supplement with table foods and fruits. We do not know his age, but know that he can't be any less than 47 years old. We figure around 50... He has been a great companion for all these years. He is primarily a one person bird and does have a big attitude for a parrot of his size.

Bunnie Ann - 2011-07-14
Just found this page, wow! I have been "owned" by my parrot for about 33 years. I got her at a garage sale, yeah, funny huh? I think she? was about 5 at the time. Her/ his, do not know, and was told it is a her, so that is what I go with! Anyway, her name is Isis. She has attacked all my friends and two women never gave me a second date... because of her. All in all though she is a wonderful pet and we get along fine. She eats about everything I eat, though I do not give her meat very often. She loves to chew cardboard boxes to shreds, and she ruined a very expensive book, it was worth more than her! I imagine that she will outlive me, and she will go to my ex?, and if not I will post here to see if maybe someone can take her. She is like my child and I do love her, she knows it and seems to take advantage of it. I used to take her for walks on a leash but got out of the habit but, still trying to get her to let me put the leash on her again. She fights me until I give up. She got stolen once but managed to get away, we found her 3 days later in a tree in the neighbors yard. We all were very happy, and she was ravenously hungry! She loves the car, and has traveled to most of the states with me. What a pet. Wish I could post a pic here.

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-07-14
    That is what happens. A human is trained by the parrot and once the human knows, understands an dobeys the rules there aren't any problems. My 26 year old parrot will march up and down outside the door until my hubby leaves the room. He will stomp his feet, holler and just pace until my hubby leaves the room. He won't bite or attack but just will not let me next to my husband while he is around.
    He is my mate - the bird not the husband. That is how your parrot sees you. You are it's mate - and she (probably a gal) will chase any other possible suitors away. Weird right but fun. It's a Panama? My Panama just got married and had babies last year. He was 27.
Beverly - 2012-08-11
I am shocked at what people are feeding their parrots. Junk food and meat that I wouldn't feed my child or myself. My Amazon eats only organic. For breakfast he eats banana, apple, and most any other fruit I have. Oranges are not the best but every now and then he gets a bit for a treat. Romaine lettuce, carrots, peas and most veges at different times for supper. He of course always has organic pellets in front of him. He has never had a weight problem nor will he. He's beautiful and healthy. I would never sell any bird to anyone that fed a bird the way I read here. It's a crime. Just because a bird will eat anything doesn't mean it should. Please people do your research before continuing slowly killing your pet.

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-08-12
    Parrots eat meal in the wild.  They need the protein and will eat all sorts of insects, lizards or worms.  Banana, apple, and all that fruit is going to give your birds one big case of diahhreha.  A grape to her is like you eating a watermelon.  Think size proportion.  Junk food - a whole wheat pizza with tomatoe, peppers, olives, cabbage, topped off with romaine is not junk food.  You might want to rethink what you are doing.
tracey - 2010-10-31
We have a Panama Amazon called Charlie, who we have had for 6 years, since he was a baby. He has a great personality, with the exception that he is extremely greedy!

We took him to the vets for a check up in January the first since we first bought him, only to find out that he was not only overweight but obese, in fact the fattest parrot she had seen in 12 months. He weighed 795 gms.

He was on Harrison pellets, and fresh fruit and veg diet, in far to big quantities, and he also had nuts, crisps, toast and any other snacks which we ate.

We immediately cut out all the snacks and started to reduce the amount of pellets he was eating. Six months on he had lost 100gms. We took him back to the vet who was pleased with his progress, but said he needed to lose another 100gms.

We now have cut his pellets down to 21gms (from an unlimited amount), and with the exception of a monkey nut after his daily weigh in each day gets no "junk" food at all.

He is a lot more active than he used to be, however he does not seem to be losing any more weight, and when we feed him in the morning and evening, he stays in until he has eaten all his pellets, and them moves on to his fruit and veg at such a speed you would think we were starving him.

Has anyone else got a "greedy" Amazon, and if so how have you controlled their aggressive eating, and what weight is your Amazon?

  • Julie - 2011-07-11
    I have a panama amazon called Doris. She is 8 years old and just loves to eat, chips, cooked potatoes, chicken bones, toast or any kind of spread, jam, butter etc. She was over weight too, so I cut down on human food stopped it. She has lost weight and is still as happy as before, just sulks at meal times. She is a one person bird really, but will go to anyone, she thinks she's an eagle. Lol Who am I too spoil her ideas of grandure :)
    She would be noisy if I didn't give her enough attention. She is a great speaker and a real show off.

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