Species group: Amazon Parrots
Other common names: Mexican Red-headed Amazon; Red-crowned Amazon; Red-crowned Parrot
Scientific name: Amazona viridigenalis
The Green-cheeked Amazon, once affectionately nicknamed the Mexican Redhead, is an endangered species. This talented mimic and talker, admired for its intelligence and out-going, friendly nature, is often calmer and easier to manage than the more temperamental Double Yellow-head or Blue-front Amazon males. Unfortunately, it has been a victim of its own success, since smugglers can't seem to resist over-collecting this charming bird. Do not purchase a Green-cheeked Amazon unless you can document the bird's legal origin, and be prepared to comply with any necessary regulations for holding an endangered species.
The Green-cheeked Amazon has a very limited wild range on the eastern coast of Mexico with a remaining population of less than 4,500 adults. Their biggest threats are habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade, which also damages nest sites in the process. A gregarious species, they will flock with other species of Amazons such as the Red-lored Amazon and Yellow-headed Amazon.
A mid-sized green Amazon parrot with a bright red forecrown, the Green-cheeked Amazon can be distinguished from the Lilac-crown because the Lilac-crown's red forecrown merges into an upper crown and nape that could be compared to the color of lilacs. Both species do have green cheeks, so don't use that as a field mark.
270 grams (9.5 oz.)
33 centimeters (13 in.)
Behavior / temperament:
The Green-cheeked Amazon has a good reputation as a teachable, calm bird, as long as you get a bird from a legal source that has not been abused. It isn't always as good of a talker as some of the other species like the Yellow-crowned Amazon, but it isn't as temperamental or difficult to manage either. That said, the Green-cheeked Amazon is still an Amazon, and you should bring all of your best parrot management skills. Be aware that this social species does need regular play time and training time to make the most of your relationship. Learn the bird's body language, so that you can detect when the bird is becoming overloaded and at risk for biting someone.
Many people now advise that no Amazon be allowed to ride on your shoulder. Instead, train your bird to ride your arm or a hand-held perch, so that you can always keep an aware eye on your pet and read its body language. A good way to bond with your Green-cheeked Amazon is to teach and practice tricks, allowing the bird a cute way to earn treats and attention.
The Green-cheeked Amazon, like all Amazons, can be lazy and prone to weight gain, so you must make choices that will stimulate your pet to move and to play instead of just to talk. 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's crucial that you have a playpen in all the areas where you spend a lot of time. Train the Green-cheeked Amazon to step on command onto a hand-held 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 for chewing, not just in the cage but also on the playgym and various perches around the house.
The Green-cheeked Amazon demands 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. 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 either over or under weight.
Many people find that a good pellet-based diet, formulated especially for the Amazons, 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 Green-cheeked 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
nice bird, hearty appetite, magnificent, little songstress
loud, good nip, annoying, messy eater, distrusts strangers, smaller children
scary flight attempts
The Greencheek Amazon is also known as the Mexican Red-headed Amazon
Tex came in for rehabilitation at the age of five (5) years. I was his 7th home - now, just how sad is that? He wasn't a rescue, so much as he was a "ransom." I had to find the money to purchase him out of a horrible situation. The Green-Cheeked/Mexican Red-headed Amazon is arguably the nicest of the Amazon family – equal to the Lilac-crowned, Orange-winged, and Spectacled for a sweetness of personality that is not exactly commonplace among the Amazons. They learn amazingly well, are clearly understood if they choose to mimic speech, do quite well at imitating sounds, and are less prone to biting that most Amazons – and Amazons are known to bite - make no mistake about that. Despite all the trauma poor ol’ Tex had endured, with patience on my part he was eventually willing to extend a wing of trust and give it the ol’ Harvard try one more time. Through Tex I learned that the GC/MRH Amazon has a very well-developed sense of humor and timing. If life is a stage, they’re a natural! The downside of the GC/MRH is that they are an Amazon. Amazons bite. In point of fact, Amazons chew. They grab on, hold tight, and they crunch that beak back and forth. If a macaw gets in a good nip, you’re going to have a significant bruise; if an African Grey, Eclectus or even a Conure gets a good nip in on you, you’re going to leak a little; but, if an Amazon gets in a good nip, you are going to bleed. Period. And they are not going to feel bad about it. At all. No, not even a little. I’m still convinced that if there is another Amazon in the house, they’re going to pad the story up a bit and brag. When it comes down to it, you're either an Amazon person or you're not. Take your time in letting one choose you. Allowing a parrot to choose you is always important; however, within the Amazon family, it is vital..
From nakwisi Oct 27 2008 5:57PM
Randy the chatterbox
My family acquired Randy back in California when my sister's boyfriend decided it would be cute to give a baby bird as a Valentine's gift. Completely unprepared, my parents and the family decided to adopt her, and boy did we have a lot of learning to do. We had canaries and Love birds, but a Red-headed Mexican Amazon is something special. First off, we thought she was a boy; hence the name Randy! When she later tried to build a nest and lay an egg, we all agreed that we may have jumped the gun in naming her. Next, we were pleasantly surprised at her vocalization and loud cackles during all hours of the day. Randy is a little songstress - loves to whistle the Cucaracha, and can repeat about 30-40 different short phrases in English and Spanish, including 'Dork!' 'Get out!", and "Brrr! It's chilly!". She flutters her wings in excitement when she sees us after any extended departure from home. She loves to imitate the neighbor screams when they are splashing in the pool. Randy is also a softy, and loves her head rubs. Another important consideration is her hearty appetite. Her diet consists of a variety of fruits and nuts, and veggies. But careful with overfeeding her sunflower seeds; they can damage her tiny kidneys. Her favorite treat was blueberries, which color her beak purple, and tiny bits of pasta (hard and soft). Warning though, as she is a messy eater. When my dog Charlie used to be around (R.I.P.), he would scoop up her leftovers thrown to the floor. They made a great team. Lastly, you must keep in mind that she'll need her spa day at the vets occasionally to have her nails and wings trimmed. After 2 scary flight attempts, we learned the importance of keeping her wings trimmed. Be careful about leaving your parrots to roam freely in the backyard, unsupervised. We take her outside to bath her with her spray bottle, and leave her to dry out on her outside cage in the sun. Other times, we like to give her the freedom to walk freely about her oversized outside cage. But we learned to be careful of large falcons or hawks circling nearby. I think they were eyeing her for dinner. During the winter, we're careful about moving her inside cage to a place where she can enjoy the warmth, or else have a sniffy birdy on your hands. She's been a joy to have, is bratty, lovable, and loud!.
From angelph Feb 27 2015 7:58PM
Lucky The Unlucky Green Cheeked Amazon...
I was only a child of 11 years when we first got Lucky. My uncle had won him in a poker game from some friends of his that hadn't treated him very well. He was a bit broken and tattered looking when he first got him, but my uncle was good with animals and so he brought him back to health and then gave him to us (my mother, myself and my 10 year old brother). None of us had any idea what we were doing with a giant bird, but my mother had been given a seagul to care for when she was a child (my grandfather who was a professional fisher had a friend who had found one out of the nest with a broken wing) so in a way it was the best present she ever got. She really loves birds! Unfortunately she's also not very good at connecting with them. Birds, in my experience require you to be slow and careful with them. They like your consideration and they especially like when you turn your head and blink at them. I don't know, but it is a bird thing! I've been called the bird whisperer many times, and it's mostly because when you turn your head and blink at a bird they think you like them so they like you back. Lucky had had a rough "childhood" from what I had been told. I hadn't taken too much of an interest in him when we first got him, until my mother realized that he was very violent. He would always try to bite her no matter how nice she tried to be with him. When I realized that he didn't like anyone I took it as a challenge. I was in choir at the time, so I would sing songs to him every day. I started reading about birds and bird care (at the time there was no such thing as internet in our town, so these were 3D books mostly about parakeets because that's all anyone owned). Lucky started blinking at me at one point, and after realizing he didn't have something in his eye, I started mimicking him. Eventually he grew to trust and like me. He would still go to bite me on occasion, but it was usually just a warning and he at least never broke the skin on me. When I would have him out of his cage though, everyone else in the house had to be in a different room. One time my mother had been napping so I didn't tell her I was taking Lucky out. I felt like I was getting pretty far in his training (the pseudo training I was learning and teaching to him as I went along and made it up), as I could then hold him on my arm and walk around. As my mother came into the living room I looked over at her with Lucky on my arm and I remember how big both of our eyes got as I screamed go back in your room. Lucky took off and landed on her head. Digging his talons into her hair and holding on tight, he started pecking violently at her scalp. I came over and blocked his beak. He kept pecking, but at least I knew he wouldn't hurt me as bad as her. I think it was shortly after that Lucky mysteriously disappeared one day while I was at school and my mother told me we gave him away to a place that had proper bird trainers. Granted this was twenty years ago, in the mid 90's, and I was only a child, but I would hesitate to get another one of these birds, despite how much I loved him, before knowing exactly where they were coming from, how they were treated and if I had enough time to devote to helping the Green Cheeked Amazon through whatever developmental issues it has. It wasn't until I read the post on RightPet, about the Green Cheeked Amazon, that I found out about their terrible history with smugglers. I do wonder if that's what happened to Lucky all those years ago before we got him..
From jadedknightly May 22 2015 9:56AM