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Choosing a Vinaceous Amazon

By: Dr. Susan Clubb

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Vinaceous Amazons (Amazona vinacea) are medium-sized stocky green Amazons named for their vinaceous or purple-maroon belly patch. Originally from South America, their range is limited to southeastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay and northern Argentina. Intelligent and inquisitive, Vinaceous Amazons have moderate speaking ability. They are relatively gentle but are uncommon in captivity, and are seldom available for pets.

Vinaceous Amazons can probably live up to 50 years judging by the life span of similar species. Little is known about their life span in captivity.

Appearance and Personality

Vinaceous Amazons have a purple-maroon belly patch, which appears as a suffusion of color on their heavily scalloped chest and abdomen coverts. They also have a small red patch on the forehead, red lores and red wing speculum. The nape feathers are elongated and tipped in black. The coverts on the chest have black edges resulting in a scalloped appearance on the breast. The beak is a unique deep burgundy red color with a whitish tip. The flight feathers are green at the base and violet blue distally.

Vinaceous 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 as they often encounter toxins or dangerous items. 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, etc. to avoid fear of novel situations. They need to have some space for exercise.

Feeding

Vinaceous 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 toward obesity, vinaceous Amazons should be given small amounts of sunflower or safflower seeds only as treats. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet.

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 as Amazons often fall and injure themselves. Clip only the primary flight feathers and only enough so the bird will glide to the floor. Vinaceous are not as heavy bodied as most Amazons and a few more feathers can be clipped. Excessive wing clipping can result in injuries from falling.

Housing

Vinaceous Amazons are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allows. 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. Locks or escape proof latches may be necessary on cages. Ideally the bird will have an outdoor cage as well to allow playtime in the fresh-air and sunlight.

Breeding

Vinaceous Amazons are relatively easy to breed in captivity and sometimes breed as young as 2 years (females). In North America, vinaceous Amazons breed predominantly in the spring and have a limited breeding season typically from February or March to June or July. Clutch size is typically three to four eggs. One inch by one inch by 14 gauge welded wire, or 1 inch by 1 inch welded wire is a good choice for cage construction. A suggested size is 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall by 8 feet long suspended 4 feet above the ground or floor.

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

Male vinaceous Amazons occasionally become aggressive toward their mates. Cage construction and management should take into consideration techniques to reduce mate aggression. Clipping the wings of aggressive males prior to the breeding season will help the female escape in case the male becomes aggressive.

Vinaceous Amazons are quiet compared to most Amazons but can still be noisy especially when in breeding condition. When breeding Amazons, noise and proximity to neighbors must be considered.

Common Diseases and Disorders

  • Mate aggression
  • Feather-picking
  • Psittacosis
  • Poor eating habits
  • Aspergillosis
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Obesity
  • Toxicity, ingestion of metals

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