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Choosing a Tucuman Amazon

By: Dr. Susan Clubb

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Tucuman Amazons are medium sized, intelligent, inquisitive birds with moderate speaking ability. Hailing from South America, Tucumans (Amazona tucumana) are relatively gentle and easy to tame. Mature birds are relatively quiet and shy. They are uncommon in captivity, and are seldom available for pets. Judging by life spans of similar species, Tucuman Amazons can probably live up to 50 years, although little is known about their life span in captivity.

Tucumans inhabit mountain forests of the eastern slope of the Andes in Bolivia and Argentina. Found primarily in forests of Alder and Podocarpus at elevations up to 9,900 feet in summer, and as low as 1,155 feet in winter.

Appearance and Personality

Tucumans are relatively slim green Amazons with a small red patch on the forehead. The head looks like it is too small for the body. The coverts on the chest have black edges resulting in a scalloped appearance on the breast. The beak is a pinkish horn color. Primary coverts are red and the flight feathers are green at the base and violet blue distally.

Tucumans average 12 to 13 inches in height and weigh 310 to 400 grams. Males are generally larger than females and have larger heads and beaks.

Tucuman Amazons should always be provided with toys, blocks of wood or branches that they can chew. In order to ensure safety, companion Amazons should not be allowed unsupervised freedom in the home. Young Amazons should be socialized to many people and exposed to a variety of situations such as new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends, wing and nail clips, to avoid fear of new situations. They also need to have some space for exercise.

Grooming

Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or gently dried with a blow drier. Care should be taken not to clip the wing feathers excessively so that they do not fall and injure themselves. Clip only the primary flight feathers and only enough so the bird will glide to the floor.

Feeding

Amazons should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded) diet as a basis for good nutrition. The diet should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Feed approximately 1/4 cup of formulated diet and 1/4 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Monitor food intake. Overfeeding leads to pickiness, selective feeding and wasteful throwing of food. Because of their tendency to obesity, Tucuman Amazons should only be given small amounts of sunflower or safflower seeds as treats. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet.

Housing

Tucuman Amazons are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allow. They should also be supplied with a retreat to guard against insecurity and fear responses. Ideally the cage should provide room for flight. Durable cage construction is not as critical as it is for macaws and cockatoos, although locks or escape proof latches may be necessary. Ideally the bird should have an outdoor cage as well to allow playtime in the fresh-air and sunlight.

Breeding

Tucuman Amazons are difficult to breed in captivity. In North America Tucumans breed predominantly in the spring and have a limited breeding season, typically from February or March to June or July. Clutch size is typically 3 to 4 eggs. A good choice for cage construction is one inch by one inch by 14 gauge welded wire, or 1-inch by 1-inch welded wire. A suggested size is 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall by 8 feet long and suspended 4 feet above the ground or floor.

You can use grandfather-style wooden nest boxes. Size should be approximately 12 inches by 12 inches by 24 inches.

Incubation period is approximately 24 to 26 days. Chicks will usually fledge at approximately 10 to 12 weeks of age. Tucumans are relatively easy to hand-rear and most hand rearing formulas can be used successfully.

Male Tucuman Amazons are seldom aggressive toward their mates. In general, Tucumans are quiet compared to most Amazons but can still be noisy, especially when in breeding condition.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Amazons are relatively healthy birds but are susceptible to the following:
  • Feather-picking
  • Psittacosis
  • Poor eating habits
  • Obesity
  • Aspergillosis
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Toxicity, ingestion of metals
  • Toe necrosis

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