From Issue #1
by Naomi J
parrots, as you would expect, are native to the New World.
Indeed, Christopher Columbus himself apparently gave the
name "Amazon" to the green, short winged parrots that he
brought back to Europe after his first voyage here. There
are 27 species of Amazon parrot, ranging from South Americato Mexico and the Caribbean. Some species are so abundant
that tropical farmers will sadly shoot them as pests while
others are on the brink of extinction. International trade
in all parrot species has been banned to protect local populations
but most parrot species are bredsuccessfully in captivity
and several types of Amazons are available from breeders
and pet stores here in Canada. Prices generally range, depending
on the species, from $800 to $1600, with a premium paid
for the breeds that are considered to be better "talkers".
parrots are very good at talking and imitating sounds, talents
rivaled only by the African Grey Parrot. There had been
much debate whether parrots actually were communicating
or simply mimicking their owners. Research has clearly shown
they are very intelligent and will speak in context: one
test subject, Alex, can, for starters, name about 40 objects,
say how many objects are in a tray, identify seven different
colours, and say whether two objects are the same or different.
Studies put the intelligence of these feathered chatterboxes
on the same level as three-year old humans, dolphins and
An adorable baby Amazon Parrot.
are actually very similar in personality to monkeys, and
both animals lead similar lives back in their rainforest
canopies. Amazons are very energetic, playful, social creatures
that crave lots of interaction with their human owners.
The best pet birds are hand-raised and have bonded early
with human companions. More than other parrot species, Amazons
are well known for their strong or often moody characters.
They can be, at different times, cuddly, loud, quiet, stubborn,
silly, jealous, playfully aggressive or irritable. They
will play and fight with their toys for hours on end, even
rolling over on their backs to juggle a ball or play with
some string. Sometimes, however, an Amazon will temporarily
become possessive of a toy, or a person, and may become
quite aggressive toward anyone who tries to interfere. Careless
owners have had fingers or ears bitten, followed by a trip
to the hospital for stitches. This is the trickier aspect
of owning an Amazon parrot, you really have to understand
your bird's moods and behaviours. Amazon parrots are
definitely not for all pet owners, they need much more love
and attention than most people would expect. Owning
an Amazon is very similar to owning a dog with wings.
and talking ability will vary from species to species and
from bird to bird. A bird's ability to speak and perform
tricks (or be potty trained) generally reflects the attention
and training given by the owners. A bird that doesn't speak
or dance is still a beautiful, intelligent creature that
deserves all the love its human friends can give. Amazons
parrots would ideally spend 24 hours a day with their owners,
and owners should try to give as much time as possible to
hanging out with "Polly".
Amazons will roll onto their backs so both feet can get
involved in investigating the latest toy.
experiences with my own parrot, an Orange-Winged Amazon,
have been wonderful. Like most Amazons, she loves being
around people, and she is particularly good with children.
She was potty trained from a very early age and will only
go in her cage or over a waste paper basket. She has learned
several phrases including "Hello?" (only when she can't
see us), "I'm a Good Girl" (when she wants to be taken out
of her cage) and "Can I Have It" (when she wants a piece
of food, usually something I'm eating.) Like all Amazons
she loves to take showers and she will dance and chatter
happily while warm water soaks her feathers.
Practicing good beak hygiene.
proper diet is very important for a parrot's health, and
this includes fruits and vegetables, fresh water, a fortified
parrot pellet mix, a seed mix as a treat, and a little of
what the human family is having for dinner (as long as it
is not too salty or greasy.) Certain foods are toxic to
a bird and are avoided such as chocolate, caffeine, alcohol,
avocado and apple seeds.
With strong beaks, insatiatable curiousity and the instinct
to chew up everything they get hold of....watch out!
lots of love, care and an occasional trip to the vet (where, if for the sake of the bird's own safety,
flight feathers can be trimmed), an Amazon parrot will
be a beautiful and entertaining companion animal for many,
many years. And I mean "many" years: in captivity Amazons
generally live 40-60 years, with one amazing bird living
to a record 119. If you're truly ready for a serious long-term
commitment and a slightly offbeat adventure in pet ownership,
consider the personable, playful Amazon parrot.
My parrot's best friend: my 5 year old niece
Chupa Chup Photo Gallery
highly recommend any research you do on any pet be done
over the Internet or in specialist magazines. Most books,
even ones printed in the last 10 years, typically are 20-30
years out of date in terms of the latest developments in
animal care. Consult several current sources and use your
judgement in the case of conflicting advice. If you end
up bringing a pet into your life save the better websites
so you can stay up to date and quickly get answers to the
questions that inevitably crop up.....Naomi
A Trip to
Career as a Veterinarian