Species group: Amazon Parrots
Other common names: Yellow-headed Amazon,; Tres Maria (A. o. tresmariae)
Scientific name: Amazona oratrix
The Double Yellow-headed Amazon is the single most coveted Amazon parrot. Its superb talking skills and its spectacular plumage, which only gets better with age as the yellow spreads, make it one of the most highly desired pet birds on the planet. Many talented Double Yellow-heads speak or sing with intelligence and wit, without the sensitive nerves of the African Grey. These birds are rowdy, self-confident, and, yes, hard to handle if you don't bring all your parrot behavior skills to the forefront. Because of their great confidence, these birds will take control if you don't.
They can be the world's best companion or the world's worst nightmare. And, like virtually all vocal birds capable of impressive feats of speech, they can be loud. But, if you're willing to do the work and educate yourself in the proper training of your Double Yellow-headed Amazon, you may be amazed at the wit and charm of this loyal companion.
Let's avoid the debate about whether the Double Yellow-headed Amazon is a true species that should be separated from the Yellow-crowned Amazon group. All of the birds in this group require much the same care. It's most important to understand which subspecies or species you hold if you plan to breed the birds. If you do, get some hands-on, face-to-face advice from at least one other breeder. Here, we will simply discuss the pet qualities of these astonishing birds.
The Double Yellow-headed Amazon is ranked as endangered, and the reason is simply that the birds can't successfully reproduce if smugglers keep taking unflighted babies out of the nest. If you are buying a young bird, know your breeder. If you are buying a much older bird who needs to be rehomed, know the family. If you expect your older pet to talk, it must already know how. Do not tolerate smugglers, thieves, or unethical behavior.
There are three (or perhaps four) subspecies originating from Mexico through Central America. Probably the majority of the many birds in captivity are the nominate subspecies, A. o. oratrix, but you may hear a particularly well-colored bird referred to as a Tres Maria, A. o. tresmariae. In reality, since the only inhabitated island in the Tres Marias is Isla Maria Madre, which houses a Mexican federal prison, very few bird fanciers have ever seen a true Tres Maria. The breeders who can produce genuine Tres Marias will be well-known, with reliable references, who can command a handsome price for the real thing.
All Amazons are stocky, mid-sized green parrots who appear large and powerful. While Yellow-crowned Amazons will have only a yellow forehead or crown and Yellow-napes feature a splash of yellow on the nape of the neck, a true Double Yellowhead will eventually develop a beautiful yellow face.
400 - 600 grams (14 - 21 oz.)
28 - 33 centimeters (11 - 13 in.)
50 - 60 years
Behavior / temperament:
The Double Yellow-headed Amazon may not have the press or the scientific studies enjoyed by the African Grey, but make no mistake about it. These birds are intelligent. They are reading your body language and it behooves you to educate yourself so that you can read theirs. They are not prone to phobia or bad nerves. If they take over the household, it's because they see a vacancy at the top. These birds are capable of incredible acts of affection, trust, and sweetness. They can also attempt to control. If you have any doubt about your ability to handle or understand your pet, consult with a parrot trainer or behaviorist.
That said, a Double Yellow-headed Amazon male at the peak of his hormonal surge may be a dangerous bird. They are super-charged with testosterone, and they may be determined to get their way. Before you ever get involved with these birds, learn to observe them. You may smell a scent of lilacs or musk around the bird during prime breeding season, and you may also notice that your pet is louder and more unpredictable. Many people advise that no Double Yellow-headed Amazon should be a shoulder bird because you need to keep your pet where you can easily read its moods, but this rule is triply true when you're dealing with an adult male.
If you pay attention, they will warn you before they attack. Eyes pinned? Agitated? A fake lunge or two? Take the hint, and remove the overloaded Double Yellow-headed Amazon to a safe location where he can calm down. Don't try to reason with a hormonal surge.
It's so important to train your Double Yellow-headed Amazon to automatically step up on command onto a secure hand-held stick to ride in style to neutral territory for playtime. A poorly trained Amazon who intimidates its owner could be cage-bound for the duration of the hormonal surge, which could last for more than a year, and which could even be prolonged by the fact that the bird feels in control of the cage territory. You need to notice where your bird is in his cycle, and you need to have the proper training to handle the bird safely.
The Double Yellow-headed Amazon can be a wonderful pet for the person looking for a talented talker and gifted trickster who doesn't need constant coddling. This bird sells itself, by talking to you in a sweet insinuating voice and maybe rubbing that soft head so sweetly over your hand. Some of them will even sing opera or other tunes to win your heart. But you do need to be aware of the dark side and to consider whether you're willing to invest in the training required to keep the bird sweet. Are you ready to meet the challenge?
Double Yellow-headed Amazons can be downright lazy birds who are happy to claim a too-small cage for their personal territory. For a bird that can be seen flying for miles in the wild, they are amazingly quick to pretend that they can't fly anywhere except straight down. They will be happy in a smaller cage, and they may complain about the larger one, but for the sake of their health, you must ignore their advice and offer at least a 36”w x 24”d x 36”h with no more than 1” bar spacing. Make that a powder-coated metal cage, with manzanita perches in all the places where you don't want to change perches frequently, because these birds have a powerful beak and they will chew. If you feel that your bird requires a smaller cage to feel secure, then please have a smaller sleep cage, but they still need a larger area where they have to climb around to get to all their toys, treats, and hiding places when you're not home.
It is crucial that you have a playpen in all the areas where you spend a lot of time. Train the Double Yellow-headed Amazon to step on a handheld perch so that you can easily move your parrot out of the cage area, which is sacred territory, and onto neutral ground, where you can play safely together without accidentally stimulating the bird into territorial biting. Provide lots of puzzle toys, foraging toys, and birdsafe wooden items to chew up, not just in the cage but also on the playgym and various perches around the house. Double Yellow-headed Amazons can be indolent, and they like to think they can get what they want with a sweet-voiced, “Pretty bird,” but you must insist that they exercise to keep their muscles strong.
Double Yellow-headed Amazons demand a varied, nutrient-rich diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. Some, but not all, individuals, have a distressing propensity to gain a lot of weight, to become obese, and to die of fatty liver syndrome. Other individuals seem to stay slim no matter how much they eat. There are several diets that work for this species, but you always want to err on the side of offering low-fat choices. And please consult immediately with an experienced avian vet if you suspect that your bird is overweight.
That said, there are several diets that can work for the Double Yellow-headed Amazon. Many people find that a good pellet-based diet, with lots of chopped vegetables and fruits on the side, can be a good daily diet, but take care that this intelligent bird does not get bored with the pellets. Soak-and-cook, either from a vet or a commercial supplier, can be the answer, although it's more work than pellets. Many people like to create their own grain and legume based diet, which generally includes a mix of well-cooked beans and grains, including brown rice. As a practical matter, you will probably want to prepare the cooked diet in large batches, freezing what you're not using in a couple of days, and then defrosting it as you need it.
Small, high carbohydrate seeds like millet can be included in the mix, but sunflower and peanut are usually held back and only offered when trick training. A well-socialized Double Yellow-headed Amazon will want to help you eat your dinner, which is fine if you eat a healthy diet that's rich in vegetables and whole grain, but never allow any parrot to sample avocado, chocolate, or undercooked meat or poultry.
Written by Elaine Radford
trainable, beautiful plumage, Surprising Singing Ability, sweet bird, excellent vocal abilities
big beaks, seasonal aggression, big voices, hormonal changes, constant noise
constant backup singer, amazing song memory, music, opera
Master and Commander
Fred, my double yellow head Amazon, was rescued from a garage by my mother. He was to be her pet for the next 50 years....until he saw me. He became so excited when he saw me for the first time that he began doing a dance on the top of his cage. I had only ever handled one other bird so I was terrified of him and padded up before picking him up. From that moment on he was my bird, or rather I was his human. In most cases, double yellow head Amazons are friendly and loving. Fred had been left in a garage in a cage with a parrot of a different species that hated him. He is territorial over me, getting excitable when he sees anyone be affectionate or playful with me. He does not like men at all, except while they are feeding him. Unlike most of his species, he does not enjoy being petted or loved on. After 18 years he is still afraid of humans. Fred is highly intelligent. He picks up on cues and learns words so easily I have to be careful about repeating myself too often around him. When we sit down for a meal, he expects to enjoy the meal with the rest of the family. If no one brings him a bite he will repeat "Hello" or "Food" until we do. If it is a meal that he enjoys, especially pizza, he will, politely and loudly, let you know he has finished his bite and wants another. *Avocado and chocolate are toxic to parrots. Double yellow head parrots are beautiful, have individual personalities and are a lot of fun. I couldn't live without my Fred. They are also a lot of hard work, loud and need plenty of space. They have very long memories, if ever hurt by a human they will not forget. On the other hand, when they are loved by one, they don't forget that either. .
From ryleev Jan 29 2017 11:57AM
Amazon Parrots are Life-Long Friends, but NOT for Everyone.
Poco is a Mexican Double-Yellow Headed Amazon. For the first 18 years, we thought Poco was a boy. We were wrong - she's a beautiful girl bird!
Twenty-two years ago my mother decided she was going to go out and get the bird of her dreams - a blue and gold macaw. Yeah, that didn't happen. Instead, she was told by the salesperson (remember, this was 1989, no internet, buy pets in malls) that she should try a smaller bird to start. Hence, we became the proud family of a newly hatched Amazon - Poco.
It's SO ADORABLE when they bottle feed!
What they failed to mention was a) Amazons are notoriously unpredictable; b) they rarely warm up to more than one person ("their" person) and may get aggressive when other people are too close to their person; c) this "starter" bird would outlive us and d) if we were to get another bird, Poco would quite likely form an attachment to her new friend, thus forgetting her person completely.
After about 10 years, Poco started getting aggressive - and she can BITE. HARD. My mom has been bitten so many times simply because Poco felt like biting - that's due to the unpredictable nature of Amazons.
While Poco has an amazing place of her own, right in the kitchen (the heart of the household traffic), no one really trusts her to not bite. I've learned that it's all about her eyes. When her pupils dilate - watch out!
Overall, I love my little Poco. As the only one who can really hold her (because I just don't care if she bites me, and I am CONSTANTLY looking at her eyes), she is my companion when at my mom's house. I call her my sister, considering she's been a family member for twenty-two years. For my own home however, I think I'll just get MY dream bird - a cockatoo :) Oh wait - Poco has around 60 - 70 more years ahead of her --- and she's in the will!
Poco - you are so lucky I love you.
Poco is lucky to have landed where she did - many people can't handle an Amazon. Amazons are notoriously aggressive and their mood changes frequently. They often choose one person to give all of their affection to, and "tolerate" others. Amazons are NOT for beginners, no matter their size.
My advice is simple - if you want a cuddly bird, research a cockatoo. I also suggest that families with young children look to alternatives - maybe a Lorie, those are very sweet birds..
From jlskscat Oct 30 2014 9:31AM