high spirits aviary

Naturalist Notes


Pionus parrots are one of the most interesting and enigmatic groups of parrots in the world.

They range in size from 180 grams to almost 400 grams, and measure 9 to 12 inches in length. Most of our knowledge about these birds consists of observations of them made in captivity, although they occur naturally in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

The most identifiable common characteristic feature of these birds is the red patch of feathers extending below the vent. There are 8 main species nd several subspecies (color morphs) including the White-capped Pionus (or white-crowned), the Coral-billed Pionus (or red-billed parrot), the Blue-headed Pionus, the Scaly-headed Pionus (or Maximillian's Pionus), the White-head Pionus, the Plum-crowned Pionus, the Dusky Pionus (or Dusky Parrot), and the Bronze-winged Pionus.

Plum-crowneds and White-heads are essentially nonexistent in captivity. White-capped and Blue headed Pionus are widely available, Bronze-wingeds and Duskies are becoming increasingly available despite their extremely limited captive gene pools, and Coral-billeds can also be found, but at the present time they're restricted to breeding programs and are not available in the pet trade with very few exceptions.

Ornithologists classify Pionus parrots as frugivores (fruit eaters), but there is increasing evidence that their diet might actually be more encompassing than originally assessed. Pionus hens require a great deal of protein before and during breeding/rearing season - generally more than is available from plant sources.

NOTE: This topic will be addressed at this web site in much greater detail in months to come.

Pionus are highly adaptable birds and can fit into a pet situation generally without problems. Behavior does not seem to be species-specific, but seems to depend more on the way they are raised and their environment. Pionus parrots do not require the high levels of attention as do larger parrots, and thus are ideal for working couples and families. While they do make noise, they are not prone to the yelling and screaming often associated with larger birds and are suited for apartment living.

NOTE: Pionus behaviors will be addressed in greater datail on these pages in months to come.

Pionus parrots tend to develop close bonds with their adopted families and have been known to live long, happy lives, sometimes in excess of 30 years. Because these parrots have not been the subjects of interest of most parrot fanciers, at present there is insufficient data on which to base a life expectancy figure.


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