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Yellow-crowned Amazon

Yellow-fronted Amazon, Yellow-crowned Parrot

Family: PsittacidaeYellow-crowned Amazon, Yellow-fronted Amazon, Amazona ochrocephalaAmazona ochrocephala ochrocephalaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Tammy
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We have a 25 year old Amazon who just laid an egg! She has never done this before and we are shocked! Is this normal?  Barb Foltz

   The popular Yellow-crowned Amazon is a very green bird, but with a pretty yellow crown!

   The Yellow-crowned Amazon Amazona ochrocepha, also known as the Yellow-fronted Amazon, is a very well known bird and a popular pet. Like other Amazons, its general plumage is green with a forehead that is also green, but yielding to a yellow marking on the crown.

   The Yellow-crowned Amazon is one of several very similar Amazons with yellow on the head or neck. Sometimes it has been referred to as the Single Yellow-headed Amazon. This was to differentiate it from the Double Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix, whose entire head and nape becomes yellow. Another is the Yellow-naped Amazon Amazona auropalliata, whoses yellow markings are found only on the nape of the neck rather than the crown.

   This Yellow-crowned Amazon is even more easily confused with the Panama Amazon Amazona o. panamensis. The Panama is another member of the ochrocepha group and a subspecies of the Yellow-crowned. These two are very similar but the green plumage of the Panama is a bit darker shade, it is slightly smaller and doesn't have the reddish orange spot on the upper part of the beak which the Yellow-crowned parrot has.

   It can be difficult to tell any of these Amazon birds apart when they are juveniles. Their yellow markings develop slowly with each molt over a period of about four years. Besides color, there are some other differences between these parrots as well. They differ in such things as body size, temperament, and talking ability too. It's good to know which pet bird you get so you can know what to expect.

   The Yellow-fronted Amazon is a very fun, smart and affectionate parrot. These birds are quite intelligent so are easy to tame and train. They will quickly begin to mimic sounds and can become a very good talker. Being very social, they enjoy companionship and become fast friends with their owner.

   They are a very robust bird and do well in either a cage or an aviary. Yellow-fronted Amazons like interaction but are quite content to entertain themselves for hours at a time just playing with their toys. This is an active bird and needs plenty of toys. It also likes to climb, so adding a hanging perch mounted above a playpen is great.

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


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

Scientific name   Amazona ochrocephala
   
Previously: Amazona ochrocephala ochrocephala

   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. It is also known as the Yellow-fronted Amazon, Yellow-crowned Parrot, and Single Yellow-headed Amazon. It is found from Central America on south to the Amazon Basin, the island of Trinidad, and eastern Peru. In the wild they live in pairs or flocks, and are sometimes seen singly. They live in tropical zones and 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.

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

Description    The Yellow-crowned Amazon is generally green with yellow-green on the under parts. Its name is derived from the patch of yellow the crown. There are dark black edges to the feathers on the back of the head, and a bright red on the edge of its wing and speculum. The tail is also yellow-green underneath with a red spot at the base of each feather. The eye is orange surrounded by an unfeathered white ring. The beak is light gray with some pink on the upper part close to the base, and the legs are gray.

   Juveniles are a paler green with more black on the edges of the feathers behind the head and less of the yellows and reds. The completely yellow head of mature birds takes place through molting over a period of about 4 years

   Yellow-headed Parrots are rather heavy bodied though a bit smaller than the Double Yellow-headed Amazons. Mature birds are about 13 - 15 inches (33 - 38 cm) long from the head to the tip of the tail. They reach maturity at about the 4 - 5 year range with a lifespan of 60 - 80 years.

"Herbert" is a Yellow-crowned Amazon, also known as the Yellow-fronted or Single Yellow-headed Amazon"Herbert" - Yellow-crowned Amazon Photo Courtesy Lisa Umstead, Parrot Haven

Care and feeding    In the wild, the diet of the Yellow-crowned 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.

   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.

Housing   A roomy cage is required for the Yellow-fronted Amazon. 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-crowned 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

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 Yellow-crowned 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 groups 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 and loves to play. They will learn tricks and look forward to interaction and games. The Yellow-fronted Amazon will provide you with many fun moments and a lot of laughter.

Handling/Training   The Yellow-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 Yellow-fronted Parrot see: Amazon Parrot Care: Handling and Training

Activities   The Yellow-crowned 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. 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   Yellow-crowned 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. 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    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 Yellow-fronted 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-crowned Parrot, 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 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.

References

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

Barb Foltz - 2013-02-23
We have a 25 year old Amazon who just laid an egg! She has never done this before and we are shocked! Is this normal?

  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-02-23
    It does happen. Nothing to be concerned with.
  • Lynne - 2013-03-17
    This is not unusual, and the bird is likely very happy if it's laying. I would watch out, though and make sure to feed any hen laying calcium rich foods like a little cottage cheese, yoghurt, spinach, Kale and other high calcium foods as you can. Let birdie's vet know that she's laying and if she lays one egg after another, watch out for signs of hypocalaemia (twitching, seizures and if she breaks a bone, get to the vet ASAP. Also, make sure that she has frequent servings of vitamin A rich foods and exposure to natural sunlight! Good luck.
Reply
Callum Sansom - 2012-12-10
My parrot keep's scratching all over and making noises Could she have mites?

Reply
Geralyn M. Schneider - 2012-03-24
I have a yellow crown yellow nape 15 month old male Amazon, and am desperately seeking information regarding the possible sexual behaviors, as just in the last week, he has begun behaving very strangely, and I don't know if it is neurological problem (it almost looks seizure like), or if it is sexual behaviors. Could someone who knows, please provide me with specific information of their sexual behaviors? When I describe the behaviors to bird experts or vets, they say it sounds possibly sexual, but the bird is too young, or think it sounds neurological which is very frightening to me as I have become so very attached to this bird. Help, please!!!

  • April - 2012-04-07
    I have a male yellow front amazon that when he sits with me he does the same sounds that you are talking about. Is he near you when he does this, because I am going to say they are whooing us even at a young age, because this is their breeding time, from March to May or when the weather is warm.
  • Charlie Roche - 2012-04-07
    Try and explain to me what is going on. Birds do exhibit strange or peculiar behaviors at times - I had a bird who loved to click. She would just click - made me crazy. Had one that always slept with his toe up his nose. 15 months sounds a little young to me to be exhibitng sexual behaviors. Those aren't seisure like -
    Try and explain to me. I have had them as pets for over 20 years and i have bred them - maybe i won't have a clue but maybe - who knows. Amazons don't reach sexual matuirty until 3 - 4 years old - or older.
  • Jake - 2012-06-08
    Geralyn, I have a yellow crown she's 12 yrs old now had her since she was 8 weeks old.  Mine started getting the what I call the horny mood when she was almost 2, it starts for her around the end of feb and lasts tell about the end of may, What Sparkie does is that she rubs her vent on her bells and makes a funny sound. It sounds to me that your may be rubbing it's vent, does it make a noise when your is doing this, I know Sparkie is a female I had her DNA done, I hope to breed her 1 day, I hope this helped alittle
Reply
philip fairbrother - 2012-09-12
I recently bought an Amazon and he is very moody.  He is aggessive when you offer him your hand but will happily fly onto your shoulder. He is very loud in the morning but settles over the course of the day. He is supposed to talk.  Four days in he has not spoken a word. He is a lovely boy and I am hoping we will become great friends. Any adeas on what I should expect when buying a 5 year old parrot - how long before he settle?

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-09-12
    He will settle in a little more each day but probably a couple of months before 'at home'.  Think 3 year old dressed in feathers.  It is OK - you have 50 - 60 years to work with him and become friends.  He will start talking when he is more 'at home' and hears you talk more.  Right now he is just in a hige big brand new home and everything is different.  Try and look at the world from his perspective -
  • philip fairbrother - 2012-09-13
    Thank you Charlie and of course you are right,he sat on my shoulder preening himself so I believe he is starting to trust me. Is there anything I should be doing to help him along ?
  • Charlie Roche - 2012-09-13
    Little things you can do - when you eat your meals - or at least supper, give him a little of whatever you have that is nutricious.  You canhand it to him or you can give him a little bowl and let him eat with you.  In the wild, birds - showing affection or taking care of their young - they feed them.  You can share your food - little piece of chicken, little string bean, even a little piece of speghetti - the fact you are giving it to him is what is important.  Learn your birds body language.  When he is stretching really hard to just scrath that place on the back of his neck with his foot - ask if he would like a little help and scratch the backof his neck.  If you see a long feather on his head or back of his neck wrapped in the wax - you can very gently twirl it - just where it is white and obviously waxy to remove that white wax part.  His mate or parent would do this in the wild.  they can't reach th top of their head to get that wax of and loved being preened. Learn his language as much as he learns yours.  Parrots love to play - so 'peek' or dancing is good game.  Just learn your parrot -
Reply
David Price - 2012-09-09
We bought a yellow crowned about 3 months ago. We were told he was male but am not convinced, he is very friendly with me leting me handle him, but will not let my wife put her hand in the cage. He is 2 years old and wondered how we go about getting him sexed.

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-09-09
    The only 100% way to sex most  parrots is through DNA sexing.  You can purchase kits in the back of bird talk magazine and i believe they are around $25.00.  essentially what you have to do is clip a toenail a little too short so you get a drop of blood.  They don't like it much but over fast.  You can then put QUIK STOP on the toenail or flour.  Another way is too pull a feather - again DNA -  different kit but both in the back of Bird talk. 

    Your wife can try and feed him a bunch of treats withher hand - just go slow.  Bird probably had bonded to someone that looks like you or talks like you - and not used to or doesn't like women.  If the bird is this young and a yellow crown - they do pick a mate but usually a pretty good family bird.  Just like one person better than the rest but fun for all.
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