The Blue Fronted Amazon (Amazona aestival) is also known as the Turquoise fronted Amazon and is one of the most common of the Amazon species kept in captivity. It is a species listed as Least Concern by Birdlife but is still threatened by the illegal wild bird trade. However this trade may also have allowed the bird to spread beyond its natural range such as around the Rio de Janeiro area.
It lives across eastern and northern Bolivia, eastern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina. It is a bird who lives in forests but not in the most humid forests around the Amazon, as well as in woodlands, savannah and palm groves. A small feral population has prospered around Stuttgart, Germany.
The blue fronted Amazon is around 38cm in length and weighs around 375-450 grams. Their feathers are mainly green in colour with blue feathers above the beak and yellow on the face and the crown. The amounts of these colours can vary between birds. The beak is black and there is no clear difference between the sexes. Its average lifespan is around 80 years.
Amazons are very intelligent birds who need to have time out of the cage to avoid boredom. A minimum recommended size for an Amazon cage is 3 feet square but the bigger the better. The cage also needs to be made with strong bars otherwise the beak of an Amazon can break them.
They need to interact with their humans to be happy and avoid behavioural problems and will need toys to keep them occupied when in the cage. It also helps to have toys when outside the cage otherwise these birds will go around chewing whatever they find to entertain themselves. They may do this anyway, as parrots investigate their world with their beak! However they are generally less destructive than other Amazon species.
As with most big birds, amazons can make a good amount of noise; they are good talkers but even better at having a good scream so this may be a factor to take into consideration before looking to purchase one of these birds. They will tend to be most vocal at sunrise and sunset but can use vocalisations if not happy or fearful of something.
Blue fronted Amazons tend to bond more with one person than anyone else in the household and if training properly, will make excellent pets.
They love to bathe and get soaked to the skin. A bow should be provided to bathe in as well as misting with a spray bottle or a hand held shower if the bird allows without being too frightened.
Blue Fronted Amazons can become obese so it is necessary to monitor their diet. One problem is too much seed in the diet so pellets are recommended as an addition. These contain all the nutrients apart from phytonutrients which come from fruit, vegetables and grains. These boost immune system and help with healing. It is recommended that around 40% of their diet should be made of fruit, vegetables or even soaked or cooked beans and peas.
There is also a psychological boost to a varied died for birds similar to that of humans. We get bored if we eat the same thing every meal and these intelligent parrots are the same. Vegetables such as broccoli, peas, corn, carrots, lettuce, watercress and sprouts are all good food items as are fruit such as apples, bananas, peaches, pears and apricots. Always remember with apples to remove the pips as these contain tiny amounts of cyanide, so best to be safe than sorry. One definite food to avoid is avocado as well as anything containing caffeine.
As well as fresh water, also watch an Amazon’s calcium levels to make sure they are getting enough from their diet. If in doubt, a supplement can be added to their drinking water to compensate. They can also suffer with a Vitamin A deficiency so again this should be monitored and any doubts, seek an avian vet.
Their natural environment sees them nesting in tree cavities where the white oval eggs are laid.
In the wild, these birds will flock together outside breeding season so when not breeding; they can be kept more than one pair per enclosure, if you have sufficient space. However, when they are coming to breeding condition, the males become very aggressive so need to be housed alone. They will even attack a human if they think a danger is presented to their hen though more commonly will make aggressive movements such as head bobbing, flaring out the wings and fanning out their tail.
A large vertical nest box is suitable for Amazons to nest in as long as it is made from a non-toxic hardwood as the birds will often chew it to personalise it. A layer of pine shavings or peat moss mixed with sawdust can be spread in the bottom to around 5cm in depth.
Birds are mature from 2-3 years of age but may not breed until the age of 3-4. When they do nest, 2-4 eggs are incubated for 26 days but nests should only be checked if absolutely necessary as hens can squash eggs or chicks if she feels endangered. The chicks fledge at around 9 weeks of age and are fully weaned at around 12 weeks.
Amazons are like many of the large parrot species; they are very intelligent, they need mental stimulation to avoid boredom and behaviour problems and are very affectionate and good company. They need space and commitment so are not a species to be taken on light but if you do take home a single bird or a pair, they can be immensely rewarding.
One tip from experienced keepers is that if you are buying your first bird of this species, then it is best to start with a young female bird, who has been DNA sexed to confirm. They are less aggressive when mature and less likely to attack anyone.