Pionus Parrots

The Pionus Parrot is beyond awesome. . . they are truly unique in many ways.
Making the right choice, our info on this site will help you to decide.

elcome to the wonderful world of the Pionus species.  The Pionus is on the rise of popularity and this makes it great news for them,  as more people are discovering what nice pets they make.  The hidden beauty of these near mid size parrots is their quietness.  Out of all parrot species the Pionus is the one that will not have your neighbors complaining  and turn you in for an over bearing noise level.  Most neighbors may not even know about the bird you may have if it's any of the Pionus Species.  They are usually quieter than Cockatiels.  This is not to say that they never make noise, they do and they can talk, too!  I have never had a Pionus that screams or screeches but I have received a few emails from people who say their Pionus does scream  loudly, but for the majority of Pionus they do not normally do that.   Pionus' are not usually noisy when kept as pets, they may chatter some but as a rule they don't scream and screech.  Pionus' make the best pet parrot for those who live close to others, such as in apartments or in tract housing areas.  Many have problems trying to keep Amazons or other parrots in close situations.  These little  pint sized Pionus parrots are full of personality.  They also do well for those who work full time jobs, as they don't continually have to thrive on your undivided attention.  They play well on their own with the toys that you provide for them.  They are happy to see you when you arrive home.  They also travel well.  Pionus' don't freak out as much as other parrot types, although if they do get nervous or upset they will sometimes make a wheezing  noise that almost sounds like they have a  respiratory problem, but that is just a Pionus trait, like how the African Grey parrot makes the growling sound when they get upset or nervous.  Many parrots seem to have some well known traits that set them apart from each other. 

I sometimes like to compare parrots to children, did you ever notice how some kids are noisy and some are not?  Why do some kids have crying, yelling, screaming fits and carry on so much that you can't get them to stop doing it?  Parrots are a lot like that too at times, they just have to scream as it is part of their nature to do so.  Children are taught not to have a fit over something but they do it anyway.  There are many reasons why both children or parrots scream and carry on.  For parrots its actually part of their instinct to scream and squawk, it is naturally their way of communication to other parrots when naturally out in the wild and it is usually done at least twice a day if not more but at least in the morning and in the late afternoon.  Many people think parrots should not scream or be vocally loud but they should be doing some screaming.  You can not ever take all the wild instinct out of a pet parrot.  I have not had experience with any of my Pionus screaming and carrying on out of control.  All other parrot species are screamers but I really don't know what makes the Pionus a non screamer.  Whatever the reason is for them not being noisy, it is certainly a good trait about them!  I don't like to eat my words, occasionally I get someone who tells me their Pionus screams and carries on, perhaps you'll find some that do that, but may be the bird has some sort of behavioral problem or has been tossed from home to home.  There are so many reasons why some birds are noisier than others of the same specie. 

For some people to have a parrot talk is important, but because it may not talk does not make it any less pet quality.  Talking ability for the Pionus is not a real clear sound in their voice, some tend to be high pitch and some maybe a lower toned pitch in the voice pattern.  Their voice sounds rather raspy or garbled. The Pionus does not talk any where near as well as Amazons or the well known talking African Grey.  A Pionus  can put a few words together  to make a small sentence. The Maximilian is probably the best talker of the Pionus species.  They all seem to understand what you say when you talk to them once they have learned routine words as most parrots do.  They don't usually have a large vocabulary.  Some may talk more than others and some may not even talk at all.  Teaching a Pionus like any other parrot is repeating words over and over.  Some will catch on to a new word quickly with in a few days while other words take longer.  You may also notice that when your bird is learning words you may hear them practicing them out loud to themselves.  They will say it in different ways and in different levels of volume.  Some birds that really like the sound of a  word, then they may repeat it a lot.  Just because your bird does not repeat the words you teach him doesn't mean he doesn't understand them, they do understand!  Teaching a parrot to talk is a lot like teaching a child, it takes a while for them to learn.  All I can say is be patient when teaching your bird to talk because it won't happen over night.  Have a few secessions per day of teaching or just talk a lot to your bird, you will find that after a period of time goes by your bird may be talking up a storm and you may then be saying 'be quite'!  Please do not use words such as shut-up, it's not very becoming to the bird if it learns to say it.  Also some words you put together for a short sentence you may have to phrase a word or two opposite of how you really want it to sound so when the bird says it, it will come out right, for instant - I like to have the bird say "tickle my foot", so when I tickle the bird's foot, I am saying 'tickle my foot', because if I say 'tickle your foot' and then when the bird learns it he would be saying to me 'tickle your foot'.  When the words come out of the birds mouth you want to hear 'tickle my foot'.  Cuss words should be a no-no for birds to learn, some people think it is funny to hear a bird say cuss words.  If you cuss a lot around your birds they may pick up those words without you realizing it.  Out of all my years of being around the birds, I have never heard any of my birds swear. 

When seeking out a parrot as a pet - look no further.  If you ask me, the Pionus is number one.  Do your research on the type of parrot that you want, if your mind is set on a Macaw or an African Grey, then maybe a Pionus may not be for you.  There are usually a couple of reason's why people want the two species that I just mentioned:  Macaws are the largest parrot and some just want the largest bird. Macaws can be overwhelming for some people and their big beak really scares and intimidates people.  The African Grey is wanted for their well known talking ability. All though some don't talk much and the African Grey can be a very nervous and high strung bird.  Not all African Greys are nervous or high strung but many African Greys do end up plucking themselves but that can hold true for any parrot.  I have had experience with these two species and all though they are very nice birds, they thrive on things that people sometimes overlook.  The Cockatoo is usually wanted for being a cuddle type affectionate bird.  The majority of Cockatoos are usually given up in a short period of time as they are very (extremely) noisy and highly demanding on attention.  No matter what, most all parrots have some sort of problem or undesirable things about them.  The Pionus - well I'm trying to think what there is negative about them but I really can't come up with much right now!  If you want a large bird then a Pionus may not be right for you, if you want a parrot that talks extremely clear then a Pionus is not clear on talking.  If you want a parrot that is so cuddly constantly then a Pionus is not that either.  The Pionus' that I keep as pets will go for love and scratches but they won't come unglued if  I don't give them a  love secession.  They won't scream and screech to get your undivided attention.  If you haven't guess it by now the Pionus is a good all around parrot to have.  I love parrots in general but that doesn't mean I would want them all.  Narrowing it down to the just about the perfect parrot is hard to do as everyone's likes and dislikes differ from one another.  Having experience from several different parrot species, the Pionus has taken a stand with me,  I put them in a category of  best all around parrot to keep. 

The Pionus Parrots that we raise are the 5 that are most common in the pet trade.  You will find that the Maximilian is still popular due to availability and price.  They are the largest of the 6 Pionus species that we breed.  The Blue Head is popular because of it's blue head and is just a tad bit smaller than the Maximilian.  The Bronze Wing is pretty much near the same size as the Blue Head. Bronze Wings are very pretty and are nice too.  The White Cap is the smallest, ranking with the Dusky in size and they each are beautiful in their own ways.  They all five have pretty close personalities.  Out of the five, the White Cap is probably the most feistiest, pushy and territorial out of the Pionus specie. I have had people try to correct me on this saying that their White Cap is not feisty but no matter what when comparing, the White Caps to the others they are still the most head strong compared to the rest of the gang.  I even see this in my White Cap breeders as well as my White Cap pet, but do not let that stop you from owning one as they are quite the wonderful loving Pionus as the others. We have Dusky's now but won't have hand fed Dusky babies available for a year or two or longer as we plan to make up future breeding pairs when they start producing now that we have two unrelated pairs to work with to make up our future breeding stock plus we will be able to sell bonded Dusky pairs for those who want to breed them as well.  So after all that happens then we can start selling hand fed Dusky babies. We also have a proven pair of Coral Billed Pionus which we may have babies possibly for 2005 breeding season. 

Please remember that all parrots are each an individual and can not really say that they all act the same because they are each and everyone different. Pionus' are calm birds and don't usually get up set like other birds do.   These fine parrots are a joy to hand fed and raise. It's hard to find parrots that I enjoy hand feeding.   Whether it be Pionus, Macaws,  Amazons or Cockatiels each has its own differences, each species of parrots are all so different in their eating pattern.  My personal experience with Cockatiels is that they drove me crazy when hand feeding them, they are so impatient when it comes to eating, they are big cry babies and they act like they are starving all the time,  they are so unlike the Pionus. I love Cockatiels after they are past the weaning stage! They are nice birds too, but I don't raise Cockatiels anymore. I have raised Macaws and they are in a class all their own. Having a couple pairs of breeding Macaws they seem to be a bit temperamental on their surroundings.
This is where the Pionus ranks over all, they so easy going and with their smooth personality that makes them the best,  Simply the Best

What is my utmost concerns about the Pionus Parrots?  The Maximilian.  I really feel that the Maximilian that was the most readily available in the beginning just may disappear out of the pet trade due to the popularity of the other Pionus species that are much more colorful. This can sometimes  happen as a certain parrot becomes popular and the demand is there,  this can cause the person who breeds birds not to breed them as frequently or not at all. It will phase them out and before you know it they are hard to find.  Some breeders will sell out their birds that they don't have a popular demand for of a particular specie.  The Blue Head is the number one requested in the Pionus species now.  I am a Maximilian lover.  I see their color in their personality and not on the body.  If I  had to choose only one Pionus, it would be the Maximilian. 

Now, read on about the description and other details of where these guys are originally from. Remember, importing of parrots is illegal. Wild birds are no fun to try to tame down and they never seem to be quite as friendly or loving as hand fed babies are. Even our domestic parent-raised babies end up wild and take quite a bit of work on getting them tamed.  The bond is different when comparing a hand fed baby to a parent raised baby.  Babies raised by its natural parents are very wild and is hard to do anything with, they are deathly afraid of you and want nothing to do with you,  they will bite the heck out of you as well.   It takes an enormous amount of time to get them pet quality.   Buy a Hand Fed Domesticated Raised Baby, trying to save money by buying a wild bird usually just frustrates you and the bird and neither one of you have that great of a bond.
Read about  Wing and Nail Clipping  keep flight feathers trimmed so your feathered companion won't fly away from you.

If your bird Screams endlessly read this.

How do you pronounce Pionus?  It is something like this:  pi-oh-nuss  or  pie-own-iss
A short nick name that may hear a Pionus called is:  Pi

These are the species that we breed:  
Blue Head Pionus    Bronze Wing Pionus    Maximilian Pionus   White Cap Pionus   Coral Billed Pionus

We do not have 2 out of of these 4 species listed but here is a little info on: 
Dusky Pionus    Coral Billed Pionus    Plum Crowned Pionus    White Headed Pionus   
Four Pionus Species

Caring for Pionus - General Pionus Care

Pionus Parrots: A Complete Guide by Roger Sweeney
Here is a very nice book on Pionus Parrots ~
Pionus Parrots a complete guide by Roger G. Sweeney

Click on the graphic to take you directly to Avian Publications
This is a must have book for Pionus Lovers!

Technical Descriptions

Blue Head Parrot  (Pionus menstruss)

Description: generally green; head and upper breast deep blue, red base to feathers of neck, which show through partially; black patch to ear-coverts; under tail-coverts red; bill blackish, reddish on sides; skin to periophthalmic ring grey; iris dark brown; feet grey.

Off Springs: with reddish frontal band, head greenish-blue.

Length: 28 cm (11 ins)

Distribution: Colombia (east of Andes), eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru south to central Brazil and northern Bolivia; Trinidad.

Habitat: forest and terrain with trees of tropical zone to 600 m (2,000 ft), occasionally up to 1,500 m (5,000 ft); only sighted in open country and cultivated areas when foraging.

menstruus and rubrigularis common, but threatened with extinction.

Habits: in small groups or noisy flocks of up to 100 individuals outside breeding season; mostly remains in canopy of tall trees or palms.

Natural Diet: fruits, berries, seeds and tree flowers; occasionally raids grain fields and banana plantations; regularly visits "barreiros" for mineral-rich soil.

Breeding Behavior: breeding season in central America from February to April, in Colombia as early as November/December and in Surinam from September/October; nests in tree holes or hollow branches; clutch 3 to 4 eggs; egg measures 31.5 x 25.1 mm (1.24 x 1.00 ins).

Aviculture: medium-noisy parrot with usually little chewing requirement; initially shy, later still reticent; fairly susceptible to stress as most Pionus species; many birds do not bathe, but enjoy being rained on.

Accommodation: Ideally aviary of at least 2.5 x 1 x 2 m (8.5 x 3 x 6 ft); in winter between 5° (41°F) and 10°C (50°F); double wiring necessary as can be aggressive to birds in neighboring flights.

Diet: various fruit and vegetables; variable seed mix, in spring/summer sprouted food; fresh branches with buds; regular mineral supplements; rearing food or dog chow, soft or cottage cheese before and during breeding period.

Breeding in Aviculture: regularly achieved; breeding begins in May; 3 to 4 eggs; brooding mostly starts with second egg; incubation 26 days; fledging period 70 days; young independent at 90 days; nest box size 25 x 25 x 50 cm (10 x 10 x 20 ins).

Bronze Wing Parrot
 (Pionus chalopterus)

Description: violet-blue; head and nape bronze-brown, feathers broadly edged dark violet-grey; chin white; throat dull pink; back, rump and shoulder feathers dark bronze-green with blue edging; breast and abdomen dark green broadly edged with dark violet-blue; under tail-coverts red; wing-coverts bronze-brown; primary-coverts and primaries purple-blue; tail dark blue, outer feathers with red base; bill yellowish horn-color; skin to periophthalmic ring dull to dark pink; iris brown; feet flesh-colored.

Off Springs: with greenish head and back, breast and abdomen feathers with dark green edging.

Length: 29 cm (11.5 ins) (wing 190 - 205 mm or 7.5 - 8.1 ins)

Distribution: Andes of Colombia (except Nariño) and furthest northwest Venezuela.

Habitat: forest of tropical and sub-tropical zones between 500 m (1,500 ft) and 2000 m (6,000 ft); occasionally higher or lower; regular visitor to cleared and partially deforested areas.

Status: common in localities.

Habits: in pairs or small groups outside breeding season; flies swiftly and often for great distances; noisy during flight; call shrill.

Natural Diet: seeds; probably also fruits, berries and flowers of trees.

Breeding Behavior: breeding season from April; nests in hollows in dead trees; egg measures 29,3 x 23,7 mm (1.15 x 0.93 ins).

Aviculture: quiet to medium-noisy; not particularly hard chewer; nonetheless provide fresh branches regularly; shy and reticent; occasionally susceptible to stress; during acclimatization also susceptible to cold and fungal infection; occasionally male plucks female; particularly on head.

Accommodation: aviary min. 2,5 x 1 x 2 m (7.5 x 3 x 6 ft); minimum temperature in winter 5°C (41°F).

Diet: various fruit and vegetables; good, varied seed mix; sprouted seed in spring and early summer; fresh branches with buds; regular mineral supplements; rearing food or dog chow, quark (cottage or soft cheese) before and during breeding.

Breeding in Aviculture: regularly achieved; breeding begins April; 4 to 5 eggs; incubation starts after second egg laid; incubation 26 days; fledging period 60 days; nest box 25 x 25 x 50 cm (10 x 10 x 20 ins).

Maximilian Parrot 
(Pionus maximiliani)

     (Scaly-headed Parrot)
green; forehead and lores blackish; feathers on crown and back of head broadly edged with dark grey; cheeks green with narrow bluish-grey tips; violet-blue band across throat and upper breast; breast and abdomen pale green; under tail-coverts red; back and upper wing-coverts dull olive-brown; middle tail feathers green, outer blue with red base; bill horn-colored with black base; skin to periophthalmic ring grey; iris dark brown; feet grey.

Off Springs: mostly with reddish frontal band; head pale green with narrow edging; poorly developed violet-blue band to throat and upper breast.

Length: 29 cm (11.5 ins), wing length 165 - 180 mm (6.5 - 7 ins)

Distribution: northeast Brazil from Espírito Santo north to Piauí and Ceará.

Habits: pairs, small groups or flocks of up to 50 birds outside breeding season; occasionally flocks of several hundred birds when sufficient food available; mostly seen flying as difficult to detect in trees; plumage provides excellent camouflage; very noisy when flying to and from roosting trees; audible for considerable distance; quiet when feeding; shy and unapproachable; call high-pitched and disyllabic; alarm call rapidly repeated cries.

Natural Diet: fruits (wild figs), nuts, berries and seeds, foraged in trees and bushes.

Breeding Behavior: breeding season from October to February; nests in tree hollows or hollow branches of dead trees; mostly at height of at least 10 m (35 ft); egg measures 32.2 x 24.4 mm (1.27 x 0.96 ins).

Aviculture: very quiet parrot, which seldom screeches; newly imported birds not so anxious as other Pionus species; not hard chewer; hardy once acclimatized; can be housed in communal aviary with other Pionus species.

Accommodation: aviary of 2.5 x 1 x 2 m (8.5 x 3 x 6 ft); minimum temperature 5°C (41°F); not less than 20°C (68°F) during acclimatization.

Diet: various fruit and vegetables; variety of seed mixes; sprouted food in spring/summer; fresh branches with flowers and buds; regular mineral supplements; rearing food or dog chow, soft or cottage cheese before and during breeding; occasionally conservative in feeding habits and difficult to accustom to new food.

Breeding in Aviculture: seldom achieved as not often kept; breeding does not seem to be difficult; clutch 3 to 4 eggs; brooded from laying of first egg; incubation 26 days; fledging period 60 days; young independent after 80 days; nest box 25 x 25 x 60 cm (10 x 10 x 24 ins); provide plenty of greenery for breeding.

White Cap Parrot / White Crowned (Pionus senilis)

Description: generally green; lores, forehead, fore crown and patch on chin white; remaining head feathers green edged with blue; ear-coverts dark blue; breast olive-brown, feathers edged with lilac-blue, becoming green on abdomen; under tail-coverts red with green edging; lesser and median wing-coverts gold-brown with green base; primary-coverts and primaries violet-blue; under wing-coverts greenish-blue; tail green with blue tips, outer feathers blue with red base; bill horn-colored: skin to periophthalmic ring whitish-pink; iris brown; feet grey flesh-colored.

Off Springs: with green head; forehead white; chin, breast and abdomen green; under tail-coverts lighter; iris dark.

Length: 24 cm (9.5 ins)

Distribution: from west Panama north to south-east Mexico in San Luis Potosi and southern Tamaulipas, mainly along Pacific slopes.

Habitat: forests and coastal areas with woodland in tropical and sub-tropical zone up to 2,500 m (7,500 ft); occurs occasionally in cultivated areas.

Status: fairly common; numerous in localities.

Habits: from small groups to flocks of several hundred birds outside breeding season; seasonal migrations to and from higher altitudes; quiet during feeding; then difficult to detect in foliage; cautious and shy; does not come down to ground; if alarmed flies away screeching loudly; flight swift and noisy; flock flies and also changes direction suddenly in unison; call often incessant shrill screeching.

Natural Diet: fruits, seeds, nuts, berries and flowers; maize and grain in cultivated areas.

Breeding Behavior: breeding season February to May; nests in holes in trees at 5 m (15 ft) to 8 m (24 ft); after breeding adults and off springs form larger flocks; egg measures 34,9 x 25,4 mm (1.37 x 1.0 ins).

Aviculture: medium-noisy, lively parrot; initially shy, later more confiding; often incompatible with other birds; only minor chewing requirement.

Accommodation: aviary of 3 x 1 x 2 m (9 x 3 x 6 ft); during acclimatization minimum temperature 20°C 68°F); in winter not less than 10°C (50°F); double wiring, as species can be aggressive towards neighboring birds.

Diet: various fruit and vegetables; good, varying seed mix; sprouted seed in spring and early summer; fresh branches with buds; regular mineral supplements; rearing food or dog chow, quark (cottage or soft cheese) before and during breeding.

Breeding in Aviculture: seldom achieved; breeding begins in April; 4 to 5 eggs; incubation 26 days; fledging 60 days; adults occasionally sensitive to nest inspection; nest box 24 x 24 x 50 cm (9.5 x 9.5 x 20 ins).

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