The Mealy Amazon, one of the largest amazon parrots, is the gentlest and calmest of the group!
The Mealy Amazon Amazona farinosa, is known by a variety of other names including Mealy Parrot, Blue-crowned Mealy Amazon, and Guatemalan Amazon. Mealy Amazons are one of the largest amazons, reaching up to about 15 – 16 inches (38 – 41 cm). This is quite a contrast to the White-fronted Amazon Amazona albifrons, which is only about 10 inches (26 cm) long.
The beauty of the Mealy Amazon is more subtle than that of other Amazon birds. It gets the name ‘mealy’ from the peculiar gray-green coloring of its feathers making it appear to be dusted, like it has been powdered with a light sprinkling of flour. The feathers on the nape are edged in a dusky blue and tipped in black, giving a ruffled appearance to the back of the neck. The tail and some wing feathers are tipped in blue and may have some reds, and there may be a few yellow feathers in the crown. Some have a distinctly violet crown and are referred to as a Blue-crowned Mealy Amazon. Its eyes are unusual, being large and surrounded by a wide unfeathered white ring, which is something more often seen on conures than Amazons.
Though not the most colorful or playful, the Mealy Amazon has a number of desirable qualities that sets it apart from other amazons. This hefty fellow, known as the “non-nippy amazon”, is definitely one of the more lovable amazons. Big and big in heart, this parrot is non-territorial and has room for all in the family. They will just slowly walk around the home until they find someone who is being still, and then sit at their feet and wait to be picked up. Then they will be content to just sit on a shoulder while you walk around, or just sit and be still.
Like most amazons the Mealy Amazon is very social, enjoying the companionship of people as well as other amazons. They make a wonderful calm companion and will quickly form a strong bond with their owner. The Mealy Parrot makes a most delightful pet. It is easy to tame and considered one of the best talkers. They are especially noted for having a very gentle disposition and are mostly quiet and harmonious. They are also quite hardy and robust. They can do well indoors or out, in a cage or an aviary.
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: farinosa
- Mealy Amazon, Mealy Parrot – nominate species
Amazona farinosa farinosa
- Plain-colored Mealy Amazon, Plain-colored Amazon
Amazona farinosa inornata
- Chapman’s Mealy Amazon
Amazona farinosa chapmani
- Coasa Rican Mealy Amazon, Green-headed Amazon
Amazona farinosa virenticeps
- Blue-crowned Mealy Amazon, Guatemalan Amazon
Amazona farinosa guatemalae
There are 5 suggested subspecies of Mealy Amazon. Variations occur in plumage and size, yet experts such as author Joseph M. Forshaw in his book “Parrots of the World” says that “differences claimed to exist between subspecies in South America do not appear to be constant, and suggests ….birds occurring south of western Panama are best treated as farinosa“.
The Mealy Amazon or Mealy Parrot Amazona farinosa was first described by Boddaert in 1783. These birds are found from southern Mexico, and south to northern Bolivia and east Brazil. They inhabit wooded areas and forests in tropical zones. In the wild they live in pairs and flocks, sometimes in groups over a hundred birds. They are quite conspicuous and noisy. They feed on fruits, berries, seeds, nuts, and the blossoms and leafy buds of foliage. Locals will stand around fields of ripening corn at sunrise making lots of noise as these birds pass by, to keep them from stopping to feed in the fields, as they can reek havoc on the crops.
The Mealy Amazon is green from head to tail. The green is darker on top and paler underneath. The feathers on the back of the neck and upper back being edged in a gray-blue, giving this bird a dusted appearance, and then tipped in black providing a ruffled looking nape. Sometimes there are a few yellow feathers in the crown and some birds will have a distinctly violet crown. The wings are green moving to a violet-blue on the tips and there is a red speculum. The tail is green with a yellowish tip, it is edged with blue, and sometimes there are reds in the feathers. The eye is red and very large, surrounded by a large unfeathered white ring (this is more often seen on conures). The beak is a yellowish-horn color becoming gray at the tip and the legs are a pale gray.
Juveniles are similar to the adults but their eyes are dark brown. These Amazons become sexually mature at about the 4 – 5 year range. They are one of lathe largest of all the amazons, reaching about 15 – 16 inches (38 – 41 cm) long from the top of the head to the tip of the tail. Their average lifespan is about is 60 – 80 years.
The Mealy Amazon or Mealy Parrot is known by a variety of common names including Blue-crowned Mealy Amazon, Guatemalan Amazon, Coasa Rican Mealy Amazon, Green-headed Amazon, Plain-colored Mealy Amazon, Plain-colored Amazon, and Chapman’s Mealy Amazon.
Care and feeding
In the wild, the diet of the Mealy 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.
Fruits and vegetables are great but a little chicken or meatloaf is good too. Sweet potatoes provide Vitamin A. Peanut butter or honey at the bottom of a Dixie cup or on a cracker brings them happiness. It will also bring you laughter. Amazons also love pasta but can make a real mess with spaghetti and sauce. They like to eat at the table and enjoy eating with their family. They will let you know when it’s dinner time. Avocado and chocolate are toxic to any parrot.
A roomy cage is needed for the Mealy 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 between 2 1/2 to 5 feet high, preferably with a play pen top. Mealy Parrots also like to climb so a hanging perch above its cage is a wonderful addition for your friend.
These 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.
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. .
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.
In the wild, Mealy Amazons are very social birds living in groups. They are seen in pairs or in flocks from small groups to groups of several hundred birds, often with other amazons or even with some macaws thrown in the mix. 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 and they even like to eat at the table. They are quite content and comfortable to be on a perch and in the company of its humans. Whether watching TV or eating dinner, the Mealy Parrot wants to be with you. A greater attachment also develops between you and your feathered friend the more you are together.
“I had one for a pet and two pairs of breeders. It’s like they have to sit back and take it all in before they are willing to express their opinion. The breeders – even when they were on eggs – were not territorial. They trusted. They are quiet but the older they get, the more they are vocal.”… Cheryl Galloway
The Mealy 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.
For information about training your Mealy Amazon see: Amazon Parrot Care: Handling and Training
The Mealy Amazon is a more contented amazon and will just enjoy being around you. He likes plenty of toys, wants new toys, and will play with his toys. A perch made available to him so he can watch TV with you and eat dinner with you is wonderful.
Sexing – Sexual Differences
The Mealy Amazon or Mealy Parrots are commonly bred in captivity. They 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.
The hen will then lay three eggs which incubate for about 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.
Most birds will call out to other members of the flock first thing in the morning. They call out again right before sunset. This is their good morning and their alert that night is coming. The Mealy Amazons are no exception to this. They will make noise first thing in the morning and right before the sun goes down. A Mealy Parrot 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 Mealy 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.
- 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
- David Alderton,, A Bird Keeper’s Guide to Parrots and Macaws, Salamander Books, 1989
- Arthur Freud, All About The Parrots, Howell Book House, 1986
- Werner and Susanne Lantermann, Amazon Parrots, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 1988
- Blue-crowned Mealy Amazon Parrot or Guatemalan Mealy Amazon, Avian Web
Featured Image Credit: Ondrej Chvatal, Shutterstock