Guest Author - Heather Thomas
These wonderful birds have many attractive qualities both for the experienced bird owner and the novice. While they are not yet widely popular birds, Pionus have endearing qualities that make them ideal pets for people with specific circumstances such as limited space, close neighbors or noise sensitive family members.
The commonly kept species of this bird are the Maximillian, Blue Headed, Bronze Wing and White Cap. Pionus are a medium size bird, slightly smaller than an Amazon. They have stocky bodies and short tails, similar in body type to the Amazon. Their feathers are mostly green with distinguishing colors typically around the head area, with the exception of the Bronze Wing whose body appears to be splashed with the colors of bronze, blue and green. The average size Pionus is 9 ˝ to 11 ˝ inches. Because these are not extremely large birds, their cage requirements are not unreasonably large. Minimum cage size would be 24”x24”x32” if the bird also has sufficient time outside its cage. The average lifespan for most Pionus species is 25 years with many living much longer than that with optimal diet and enrichments.
One of the most appealing qualities this bird possesses is its quiet nature. They are not known for screaming or even loud or excessive vocalization. For this reason they are an ideal choice for someone living in an apartment or with noise sensitive family members. However, they are also not known for their talking ability. They are able to learn how to talk but many do not. These birds are not only vocally quiet; they have a quiet nature. They are not high-strung or nervous birds and do not require their owner’s undivided attention. When Pionus become stressed they do make a wheezing sound making some people wrongly assume a respiratory illness; this is simply a character trait specific to the breed.
Diet and Care
Caring for these birds is not dissimilar from caring for any other parrot. A quality diet of seeds, pellets, fruits and vegetables is standard for this species. Fresh water should always be available. Weekly bathing keeps feathers in optimum condition. Because this species is very laid back it may be necessary to restrict the amount of seed in its diet to avoid obesity. Rotate toys to avoid boredom and spend quality time with your bird daily. These birds are not known for being overly messy and do not typically throw their food. Weekly cage cleaning should be sufficient to keep their environment reasonable. Obviously, if fresh fruits and vegetables are fed and dropped into the cage tray these should be removed at least every other day to avoid mold growth.
These interesting birds are becoming more easily available as more people discover what wonderful companions they make.