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Lilac-crowned Amazon

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Is the Lilac-crowned Amazon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Finsch's Parrot; Finsch's Amazon; Amazon Lilac Crowned Parrot; Pacific Parrot; LCA

Scientific name: Amazona finschi

The basics:
The Lilac-crowned Amazon could be viewed as a Mexican west coast version of the Green-cheeked Amazon. Like the Green-cheek, the Lilac-crown is alert, intelligent, and sometimes a gifted mimic, with a calmer, easier-to-manage personality than some of the more notorious Amazons like the Yellow-nape.

The Lilac-crowned Amazon has a very limited range on the southern Pacific coast region of Mexico, but they are faring a little better than their eastern counterpart, the endangered Green-cheeked Amazon. Although their talent and beauty have made them tempting to the smugglers, there still may be several thousand birds in the wild, and they are currently rated as “Vulnerable.” They seem to be fairly adaptable to a variety of woodland habitats, ranging up to 2,000 meters.

Appearance:
Both Green-cheeks and Lilac-crowns are chunky green birds with bright red forecrowns, but the Lilac-crown is easily identified because of the lovely sweep of lilac from the back of the head and around the green cheeks. Yes, both Green-cheeks and Lilac-crowns have green cheeks, so don't use that feature as a clue.

Weight:
325 grams (11.5 oz.)

Average size:
33 centimeters (13 in.)

Lifespan:
50+ years

Behavior / temperament:
The Lilac-crowned 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 Lilac-crowned 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 handheld 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 Lilac-crowned Amazon is to teach and practice tricks, allowing the bird a cute way to earn treats and attention.

Housing:
The Lilac-crowned 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 is crucial that you have a playpen in all the areas where you spend a lot of time. Train the Lilac-crowned Amazon to step up on 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 chew items, not just in the cage but also on the playgym and various perches around the house.

Diet:
The Lilac-crowned 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 Lilac-crowned 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

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