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Choosing a White-fronted Amazon

By: Dr. Susan Clubb

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White-fronted Amazons, also known as spectacled Amazons, are small, stocky, green Amazons that hail from the Yucatan Peninsula. They are intelligent, inquisitive birds with excellent speaking abilities, but they are rarely found in captivity and are not commonly available in the pet trade. White-fronted Amazons can probably live up to 50 years judging by life span of similar species.

Appearance

White-fronted Amazons are relatively small Amazons measuring about 9 to 10 inches in height. They are almost identical in appearance to the yellow-lored Amazon but have red lores instead of yellow. They have white foreheads, and red rings around the eyes, and red cheeks. Prominent red splashes are found on the shoulder of males, which are small to absent in females. Primary and secondary flight feathers are blue and the tail feathers are green with red at the base.

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 dryer. White-fronteds are heavy bodied and care must be taken not to cut too many feathers. Clip only the primary flight feathers and only enough so the bird will glide to the floor. Excessive wing clipping can result in injuries from falling.

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 to 1/3 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, white-fronted Amazons should be fed no sunflower or safflower seeds or seeds should only be given as treats. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet.

Housing

White-fronted 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, and wing and nail clips to avoid fear of novel situations.

White-fronted 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

White-fronted Amazons are difficult to breed in captivity. In North America, white-fronted 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 3 to 4 eggs. A good choice for cage construction is 1 inch by 1 inch by 14 inches 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 suspended 4 feet above the ground or floor.

For nest boxes, wooden boxes can be used. Size should be approximately 10 inches by 10 inches by 18 inches.

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

Male white-fronted Amazons may become aggressive toward their mates. Clipping the wings of the male prior to the breeding season may be necessary in aggressive individuals to help the female to escape in case the male becomes aggressive.

White-fronteds can be noisy when in breeding condition. When breeding Amazons, consider noise and proximity to neighbors.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Amazons are relatively healthy birds but are susceptible to the following:
  • Feather-picking
  • Mate aggression
  • Psittacosis (Chlamydiosis)
  • Poor eating habits
  • Bacterial, viral and fungal infections
  • Obesity
  • Upper-respiratory infections
  • Toxicity, ingestion of metals
  • Toe necrosis

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