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White-fronted Amazon

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Is the White-fronted Amazon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Spectacled Amazon; White-Browed Amazon; White-fronted Parrot

Scientific name: Amazona albifrons

The basics:
The White-fronted Amazon is the smallest of the Amazon parrots. If you're looking for an Amazon personality in a cute, smaller package, look no further. But don't let that innocent face fool you: They are brash, outgoing birds that offer the same positives – the ability to talk and play without needing lots of coddling – and the same negatives – a desire to take charge or become aggressive – as any other Amazon.

The White-front is an adaptable parrot with a wide range over a variety of habitats in southern Mexico and south to Costa Rica. There are two or (perhaps) three subspecies, so if you decide to pair your bird for breeding, you should have an expert examine the birds in question first. These highly social birds are common and sometimes abundant, gathering in large, noisy communal roosts for the evening. They are hardy and can be found at elevations as high as 1,800 meters.

Appearance:
A smaller green Amazon that gives an impression of being "cute" thanks to its red spectacles around its eyes. But you won't confuse it with Red-Spectacled Amazon because of the snow-white forehead that gives the White-front its name.

Weight:
188 - 242 grams (6.6 - 8.5 oz.)

Average size:
26 centimeters (10 in.)

Lifespan:
50+ years

Behavior / temperament:
Despite their smaller size, White-fronted Amazons are true Amazons, with all the good and bad that comes in the Amazon package. 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 White-fronted Amazon is to teach and practice tricks, allowing the bird a cute way to earn treats and attention. For the best chance of teaching this talented mimic to talk, start the training early.

Housing:
The White-fronted 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 White-fronted Amazon to step 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 chewables, not just in the cage but also on the playgym and various perches around the house.

Diet:
The White-fronted 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 White fronted 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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