Species group: Amazon Parrots
Other common names: YSA; Yellow-winged Amazon; Yellow-shouldered Parrot; Yellow-winged Parrot
Scientific name: Amazona barbadensis
The Yellow-Shouldered Amazon is a rare bird indeed, especially for a South American parrot. This smaller, somewhat slimmer Amazon parrot is sometimes nicknamed “Barbie” and described as a miniature version of the Blue-fronted Amazon. They have a good reputation for being a relatively quiet Amazon, but they can learn to talk and whistle, and they can become charming pets that don't present the intense behavior challenges of the larger species. Unfortunately, their great talent and personality have made them an irresistible target for illegal trappers. Make sure you purchase a legal, domestic-bred, close-banded pet.
This rare parrot has a tiny range in coastal Venezuela and a few offshore islands. Here, it lives in relatively dry areas, including landscapes where cacti and thorny bushes or trees can be found. They have a challenging situation in the wild, where they are rated “vulnerable,” and they have already been extirpated in Aruba. The population, never large, faces multiple challenges. Some habitat is lost to developments for tourism. Some farmers, especially on Bonaire, are reported to kill the birds for taking their crops. And, because of their beauty and intelligence, they are highly desired as pets, and apparently there is a bustling illegal trade that involves capturing the Amazons of Bonaire and selling them in Curacao or perhaps the Venezuelan mainland.
The Yellow-shouldered Amazon is a bit like a smaller, slimmer Blue-front, except the "front" forecrown is white instead of blue. The shoulder patch on the closed wing is always yellow in the Yellow-shouldered, whereas it is red in one subspecies of the Blue-front.
270 grams (9.5 oz.)
28 - 33 centimeters (11 - 13 in.)
Behavior / temperament:
Because of their rarity, Yellow-shouldered Amazons often find their way into breeder's programs. However, the lucky few may encounter a domestic hand-fed baby, and these smaller Amazons are very well-regarded for their balanced personality. While they may not have the top talking skills of a Double Yellow-headed Amazon, they are smaller and easier to handle, and they can be the best choice for many people. However, do not be misled. An older adult male in breeding season can become aggressive, so learn about Amazon psychology and body language, and develop good bird handling habits from the very beginning. If you have any doubts about your ability to manage your Amazon, a bird trainer or behaviorist can be an excellent investment to help you polish your skills.
Even though the Yellow-shouldered Amazon is a smaller, “cute” Amazon, treat them with respect. Some experts recommend that no Amazon be allowed to ride your shoulder. Teach them to ride a hand-held perch or your arm, so that you can always keep an aware eye on them to monitor their moods and behavior.
The Yellow-shouldered Amazon needs a living space that encourages the parrot to exercise. Offer at least a 36”w x 24”d x 36”h cage 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 Yellow-shouldered Amazon to step up 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 bird-safe wooden chewables, not just in the cage but also on the playgym and various perches around the house.
The Yellow-shouldered Amazon is a parrot of dry scrublands. The bird is adapted to a challenging environment, so you must be careful not to give too much rich, high fat food, or your parrot might become obese. Stick with a varied, nutrient-rich diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. 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 Yellow-shouldered 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 Yellow-shouldered 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
physical handling, busy adult households, sweetest Amazon, positive reinforcement training
live for as long as a human, illegal trade, unfortunately many die, 1Person Bird
highvalue food rewards
Loro, the rescued Yellow- shoulder Parrot
Loro is an exotic rescued parrot that’s being with the family for quite a few years. He is an Amazonian Barbadensis (yellow-shoulder parrot). Here in Brazil it’s very common the illegal trade of exotic birds from the rain forest to the big centers where they are sold. Many birds are taken out of their natural environment, put in small cages and transported in trucks through thousands of kilometers and unfortunately many die in the heat. It is a sad situation but things are slowly changing as laws are becoming tougher.
When Loro arrived at our house, brought by the environmental police, he was thin, dehydrated and many of his feathers were missing. Slowly he recuperated to become the beautiful and colorful bird he is today.
Loro is an incredibly clever bird. He can say so many words, full sentences and also repeats the funniest day to day expressions. He can cry and laugh, sing and whistle. His favorite food has to be nuts and fruits in general. He enjoys screaming in the morning or whenever the doorbell rings. I have other birds too and they all get along very well.
Like any domesticated animal, Loro enjoys being stroke but one has to do it very carefully and gently as he’s got a very powerful beak and has already made a couple of distracted ‘victims’. He doesn't like children very much either and I suppose it’s because they move so fast and are so unpredictable.
Having a bird like Loro has been such a great experience. It’s a commitment for life as they can live for as long as a human being. They can be temperamental at times but nevertheless bring loads of joy!.
From Nookshawn Oct 4 2013 6:33AM
I've had such a great experience with this yellow-shouldered parrot. It took a while but what a great little companion I have! This species tend to be quieter than many of the other Amazons, but that might mean that they are not likely to pick up the extensive vocabulary of some of the others in this family. Yellow shoulders are one of the less excitable Amazons and have a reputation for enjoying physical handling that many other species won’t accept.
Another thing I liked is that it feeds easily on seeds and fruits. Most of all they seem to be one of the sweetest Amazon species that I have met..
From dennysmr Jun 5 2015 11:41PM
Bad Experience; A 1-Person Bird.
How I came to acquire a Yellow-Shouldered Amazon is still somewhat beyond me; I was young at the time (11-13? The dates of ownership here are approximate, because it's been quite a while and I can't remember exactly when or for how long we had him). I had been asking for a turtle, read up on turtles every night, and was eagerly anticipating one from my dad. He came home with this bird, and as guilty as it makes me feel to say this, I hated it.
I wanted to love it--Yellow-Shouldered Amazons are BEAUTIFUL, and Charlie seemed like he could be a great companion considering how close he grew to my step-mother. But that's the thing: these birds seem to attach to one person and one person only, and I couldn't be the one to take care of it 7 days per week, as I only visited my father on weekends. As a result, the bird often bit me, screeched at me throughout the day, and would try to attack me through the bars. On one of the rare days in which he came to me without biting my fingers, I got so excited that I put him on my shoulder--and promptly regretted it. Let's just say I almost got a new ear piercing for it.
Overall, I WOULD recommend these birds if you're planning on being the primary caregiver and spending ample amounts of time with them. They do get very affectionate with the person they bond with--he used to nuzzle my step-mom and coo while I watched in envy--but they also seek lots of attention and screech over TV and music, so that's something to consider, at least when deciding where you'll keep the cage.
Eventually, we gave Charlie away to another family. It saddened me to see him go and I felt guilty at the time for not being able to bond with him more, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons. The only picture I have of my Charlie is a Polaroid and I don't own a scanner)..
From CRGuarino Jul 30 2015 8:28AM