Yellow-crowned Amazon, Yellow-fronted Amazon, Amazona ochrocephala
Amazona ochrocephala ochrocephala

   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

  • 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.


   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.


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


   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.


   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


   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.


   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


   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.


   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.


   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.


 Yellow-crowned amazon at Birdworld (Image Credit: domdomegg, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 International)