Amazon Parrots


9 Years
11 Years
Jul 12, 2010
North Eastern Arizona
How long do Amazon Parrots live. I know the books say up to 50 years, but was wondering what you believe to be the average. Also, what pelleted diet would you recommend? I have had my mother-in-law's parrot for three years now, and I feel like I am doing everything wrong. He is 24 years old, and is not trusting of people. I can't pick him up at all. He will talk to me but that is it. He had poop stuck to his bottom, and when I finally caught him to clean it off I seriously thought he was going to have a heart attack. I have never seen a bird breath so hard, and shake. I worry about him ever getting sick because I would not be able to treat him. It is so much easier taking care of my chickens:D.

Any help, advise, and encouragement would be appreciated.
As for the length of his life, fifty years is the approximate age, but he could live to be a few years older with good care. I've not heard of an Amazon reaching much higher than that.

For pellets, the most highly-recommende brand is rather pricey, but it ensures a balanced diet. The brand is called Harrison's, and I believe everything they put in their mixes is organically grown. A cheaper, easier to find, and still pretty balanced option would be Zupreem color-free natural pellets. I'm feeding the 'small bird' pellets from them to my cockatiel, in addition to Volkmann's Featherglow cockatiel seed. A similar diet with larger pellets would be wise, in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables. I often feed chopped Spinach, Lettuce, Carrots, and Broccoli to my cockatiel. Avoid feeding Peanuts as much as possible; they contain a fungus that is dangerous to birds yet harmless to humans.

Getting him to trust you is an easy, but time-consuming task. Work consistently, patiently, and diligently with your bird. I would suggest buying Chet Womach's training CD, found at

Wishing you the very best,

I agree with bird-nut.
Never give up.
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To be honest I haven't met one amazon parrot that likes being touched. Mine will step up but if you try to touch him (or even if HE thinks you are trying) he starts screaming and opening his mouth like he's going to bite. However Paco rarely bites unless there is someone in the house he doesn't like. Parrots are very picky about people, sometimes they only like a certain gender. The poop stuck to his butt probably isn't a good thing, though. If being handled caused him so much fright I wouldn't handle for a long time as he was probably abused or never had much good contact. Try sitting next to the cage and talking to him quietly. At first he might crawl to the back of the cage but when he starts coming to the front to see you know your making progress. After he is used to being close to you with the cage seperating you from him offer him treats and when your around to watch him open up the cage door to see if he wants to come out on top and explore. Give him time and with good luck and a little hope he'll come around.
My parents got a Yellow faced amazon from their friends who moved, and I really dislike him. He says "hello" quite clearly but always makes muffled sounds like he's the teacher on "Peanuts" and he squawks and screams if he doesn't get attention. But if any of us try to get too close to him he will make a very aggressive/defensive sound. Sometimes he'll get curious and brave enough to venture a bit farther from his cage. He's flown into the kitchen and onto the cabinets, pooped, then went back to his cage. He is very mean and annoying most of the time, but sometimes he can be sweet and funny. He'll make excited sounds in the most appropriate moments, saying, "Wow!" or "Aw!" Other than that I can't get him to trust any one.

As for food, I've tried to supplement his pelleted food with green leafy vegetables and even bananas. He loves sprouts.

I've also read that they live for up to 50 or even 60 years, but the parrot we have now is the only amazon parrot I've met.
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I have two amazons, Brooklyn and Balto. They are a handful, but I adore them.
I agree with the previously mentioned pellets, but I would not feed only pellets. The fruits and veggies advice is great. Mine also like fresh sprouts, cooked beans and whole grain pasta. Be careful, amazons are easy to pack too much weight on. Little gluttons love to eat. lol

I am also going to suggest a book.

Sally Blanchard's The Companion Parrot Handbook. It's not cheap, but it is so worth every penny. I have loved mine and read it over and over. (I also have a pair of previously mishandled macaws with many issues.) This book has been a lifesaver.

Amazons are generally very adaptable, but you're also coming into breeding season and amazons can be unpredictable and aggressive. Be patient, be gentle, and be careful. Once you get through to him, you'll fall in love with him.

I do hope you two learn to get along, amazons are such amazing birds. Mine are my best friends.
I'm a new member here, but I'm very familiar with parrots, and Amazons are my favorite. Right now, I share my life with Sammy, my 20YO male DYHA (double yellow headed amazon). He was 7 when we first met, wasn't friendly, was overweight, had a mild infection, was calcium deprived...the list went on. I found this out only after I got him, during his new-bird physical (which I recommend for EVERY new parrot, and PLEASE bring yours in if you haven't already to be sure there aren't any underlying infections or imbalances that can't be detected symptomatically). I knew the overweight part, but the rest was determined only after the vet's tests. He was eating "parrot seeds" which, with amazons, means "I'll pick out the sunflower seeds and peanuts, and tomorrow, when you change the food, you'll be throwing out all the other stuff in the mix that I didn't touch." Pellets make a better base, but shouldn't be the majority of the diet. Because of Sammy's condition when I got him, his diet was very important to me.

I know from the rules that we can't post links to other sites, so I'll just say that Sammy's breakfast each day is a mix of sprouted seeds and legumes which I buy in a dry mix. I have a mason jar with a screen lid which I bought from the same place, and I simply put a cup of dry grains/legumes in the jar, fill with water, and let soak for 8-12 hours at room temp. Then I drain, rinse several times, and spoon some out to feed. The company I buy this from offers a green supplement powder containing spirulina, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, mineral clay, and a bunch of other "good stuff" that gets added to the food at serving time. The rest of the soaked seeds in the jar will remain at room temp for a day, rinsing before serving and draining through the screen lid. After that second day at room temp (first day for soaking, second for sprouting), I keep the jar in the fridge, and continue to rinse before serving, until the jar is empty (lasts about a week). Then I wash the jar, and start over again. It's way easier than it sounds, and much cheaper than you think.

That's his base. He has another dish with Harrison's pellets which he snacks upon, but he always dives into his soaked seeds / sprouts mix first. He also gets various veggies, fruit, and some of whatever healthy food I'm eating. Sammy went from being a porky 670 grams at his new-bird physical to a healthy 480 grams within about six weeks. He also received oral antibiotics three times a day for three weeks (not fun with a new, adult male amazon who hasn't warmed up to me, but I believe that he finally realized that I could not be intimidated by him, and after that he bonded to me really tightly), and when he went back for a check-up six weeks later, all his former problems were resolved.

Amazons, especially adults, can be difficult to get to warm up to new people. One thing that is an almost universal motivational force for amazons is food -- they LOVE to eat. If you find something that your bird LOVES to eat, don't feed it as a part of his regular diet. Offer it only as a reward for spending time with you. For example, Sammy loves almonds. I can't give them free-choice because they're somewhat fattening, but he gets them as treats. For a new amazon that isn't friendly, spend time in the same room as his cage, and have the almonds on your lap or near you and in plain-sight of the bird. Reward approximations to friendly behavior, such as giving some when you see him approaching you but not coming all the way to you, then rewarding when he takes some from near you on his own, then when he takes some from your hand, etc.

As to longevity...the oldest amazon I've heard of was named "Polly" and was a yellow naped amazon who lived through many owners and homes in Alaska. When brought to the vet for a physical, cataracts were treated, and "Polly" got to see (at least somewhat) again for the first time in many years. "Polly" turned out to actually be a male, and lived with his new owners for a few more years before passing away at the age of 107. You can find the story out by googling -- it appeared in several parrot publications a few years back. I've also known of several amazons older than 50. What makes it rare is NOT that the birds "can't" live that long, it's that many don't receive optimal care, and thus the "average" lifespan is shorter than the "potential" lifespan. Before I returned to school, I came across someone looking to rehome a 45YO amazon whose first owners had passed away, and the surviving children couldn't keep the bird. I had to decline because I was living with roommates at the time, and another amazon wouldn't work out in that house.

This post is already REALLY long, but please feel free to pick my brain. I love amazons, and will be looking to get a few more adult "unruly" amazons when I graduate. There's just something about their personalities that click with me (Sammy was my second first, a blue-front, contracted a heart infection and passed away at only 5 years of age, when I was a teenager). People say they're unpredictable, which is somewhat true, but they're "predictably unpredictable." By that I mean that yes, their moods can change dramatically in short periods of time, but they give clear signs of their current state of mind. Being over-excited, aggressive, threatening, etc. is readily apparent by seeing their eyes flash, their tails fan, the feathers just past their beak raise, etc. Yeah, I love 'em, and can help you out. Ask me anything.


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Oh, I can't wait until I can upload pics. My Sammy, a 20YO male I've had since he was 7, is ridiculously snuggly with me. We often watch TV at night, with him lying on his back on my chest and me rubbing his belly or massaging his head for as long as he can go without having to make a poopie (and then he rights himself up and flies back to his cage to poop, all by himself...that took some gradual gentle encouragement but he's learned that it's "rude" to poop on Daddy). On the other hand, as snuggly as Sammy is with me, he's very aggressive with other people. He has chosen me as his mate, and must defend me from any other "intruders." I live alone now, so it's not as much of a problem. When I had roommates, I needed to remind him to be good, and when he became overly cranky, he lost his freedom for some "time-out" in his cage (which is ridiculously large and has plenty of toys, so it was far from being a prison, but....).


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Here are three different photos of my Amazon Oscar the Grouch. In the first photo we are whistling and carrying on. See how he faces me with cheek feathers puffed, eyes soft, feet relaxed. He's a happy bird!

In the second photo I am approaching with a cockatiel on my shoulder. Look how the feathers on the back of his head are extended. He's turning his back to me to spread and display his tail feathers to me. He's saying I'm not so happy right now. I'm threatened by this bird and will defend my territory.

The third photo was taken just after we moved to our new place in Union. My husband was behind me. Check out Oscar's body language. Although Oscar loves car rides, the move to the new place, and the appearance of what he considers a predator was too much for him. He was bashful for a few days, and was positive he was invisible behind his rope toy.

The only moment I would have offered my hand to him would have been in the first photo. Oscar is thoroughly hand-trained but there are times my hand is just too much to handle. He let's me know with his body language and I don't force myself on him.

You have to remember how hideous we look to birds with our tiny eyes, itty bitty pupils that rarely flex (pin), and we are always showing our teeth like the typical predator we are. Amazons are highly intelligent, manipulative and the human-imprinted birds can become monsters if one is not careful.

The wild caught ones-are well-wild. Respect them, treat them with kindness, but they may never bond to you.

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