Blue-fronted Amazon

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Is the Blue-fronted Amazon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: BFA; Turquoise-fronted Amazon; Yellow-winged Amazon (A. a. xanthopteryx); Blue-fronted Parrot

Scientific name: Amazona aestiva

The basics:
The Blue-fronted Amazon is one of the most popular talking parrots, admired for its ability to learn many words and phrases, and to use them in a witty or charming way to gain attention. Some individuals may even learn to sing. They are brash, intelligent, and fearless, and in some ways they seem easier to manage than the sensitive Greys or the clinging Cockatoos. However, they can develop hormonal or seasonal aggression in their maturity, so be prepared to bring all your best parrot management skills to keep them sweet.

Some mature males at the peak of their hormonal crisis can be challenging or even impossible for the easily intimidated person to handle. Learn your Blue-fronted Amazon's body language, so that you can quickly respond to moods and head off any potential problems.

This species is a bold and widespread parrot found in central South America in a variety of environments, including areas that can get extremely cold and extremely hot. In eastern Bolivia, they can be found at elevations above 5000 feet. The wild birds are gregarious and curious by nature, sometimes surprising you with how close they'll let you approach on a reserve. They can often be seen in pairs or small flocks, but large groups may gather at night for the safety of a communal roost.

Because they are admired for their spirit and gift for mimicry, they are trapped as pets not just to sell but also for local pets too. The tough and adaptable Blue-fronted Amazon is still common but there are some reports that the species has been extirpated in some local areas. Know your source, and don't tolerate smugglers or thieves.

A stocky mid-sized, mostly-green parrot with an attractive blue forehead.

450 - 500 grams (16 - 17.6 oz.)

Average size:
37 centimeters (14.6 in.)

50+ years

Behavior / temperament:
The Blue-fronted 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 Blue-fronted Amazon male at the peak of his hormonal powers may be a dangerous bird. They are super-charged with testosterone, and they may be determined to get their way. Many people no longer recommend that you ever allow any Amazon to ride on your shoulder, because you need to be able to keep your eye on the bird to read its moods, or you might risk serious injury. Blue-fronted Amazons, like the other Amazons, will give you signals that they're becoming overloaded.

When you first acquire your new Blue-fronted Amazon, train the bird to automatically step onto a hand-held perch on command, so that you can easily remove the bird to a neutral location, like a playpen, or return it to its cage if it's too excited to continue playing. Pinned eyes? Threatening lunges? Your pet will warn you that it's in danger of biting hard, so take its warnings seriously.

The Blue-fronted Amazon is a wonderful pet for the person looking for a talented talker and gifted trickster who doesn't need constant coddling. However, you do need to be aware of the dark side and to consider whether you are willing to invest in the training and the work required to keep the bird sweet. Although the bird can be great for people who work full-time, because they like their afternoon nap, the Blue-fronted Amazon does expect to spend some quality time playing with you every day.

A Blue-fronted Amazon may sit for hours on the top of a small cage, barely moving a muscle, as it supervises the Bolivian village that it happens to “own.” Despite dogs, farmers, and chickens bustling around, these village pets seem content to watch and throw out comments in the local language. No doubt about it: In captivity, even on its home ground, the Blue-fronted Amazon can be lazy. For the sake of their health, you must offer housing and supplies that encourage them to get off their duff and move.

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 Blue-fronted Amazon to step on a handheld stick on command 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.

The Blue-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 higher fat options like sunflower and peanut are usually held back and only offered when trick training. A well-socialized Blue-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


sociable, cuddly, absolute favorite birds, mimicry, best friend, gregarious


seasonal hormonal aggression, nonfavourite family members, aggressive, screaming, huge commitment


respiratory infection, mineral oil daily, house temperature, complex creature, diminutive size

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