A phlegmatic character ready to captivate with his exotic blue-colored head atop an olive green body seems to be crafted by humans, is the famous Blue-headed Pionus. Juveniles are found to be green, but later booms out in striking colorful and eye-catching feathers. He is commonly known as the Blue-Headed Parrot and generically, Pionus menstruus.
Blue-headed Pionus Habitat
The wild Blue Headed Pionus primarily roots in the tropical areas of Central America, and South America covering Costa Rica, Trinidad, Venezuela, Brazil, and Bolivia. He sustains humid areas and roosts in forest trees. They are treetop dwellers and can be found dwelling the trees as high as 2000 feet above the ground.
Blue-headed Pionus Size
The Blue Headed Pionus is considered as a medium to large-sized parrot. At maturity, the Pionus habitually reaches lengths of up to 12 inches when measured from beak to tail. But this average stays close to 11 inches. They are found to be sturdily built when fully grown, similar to other species of Pionus family, and attain an average weight of 230 grams. The females tend to be slightly shorter in length and lighter in weight than their male counterparts.
Blue-headed Pionus Lifespan
When in the wild, Pionus species are considered to be living for around 25 years of age. But in captivity, they are documented to be living for as long as 40 years provided they are nurtured with good care and nutrients. A shorter lifespan in the wild can be accredited to lack of care, imbalanced diet, and fear from predators. But in captivity, pampering and a nutritious diet make them live up to 40 years with some even being recorded to live even longer.
Due to their phenomenally long lifespan and the attention it calls for to achieve that milestone, the budding owners are advised to proceed with caution before they take the big step of adoption and commit themselves towards this nature’s beautiful creature.
More about Lifespan and Diet here
Blue-headed Pionus Behaviour
The Blue Headed Pionus, like other Pionus parrots, is a free-spirited bird who enjoys his own company but at the same time is a true-blue patriot to his owners. They enjoy interacting with their favorite human family member, playing games, and droll themselves with plenty of bird toys. They are easy-going, a dove-like character who unlike other species tends to bite less which makes them sweet-natured. However, they are certainly capable of biting hard if the situation calls. Pionus parrots are also widely reported to be among the quieter types of parrot species, especially for their size.
Blue-headed Pionus Temperament
Blue-headed Pionus have a usual calm temperament for the most part of their lives. That said, they have their challenging times too. And more often than not, such times fall around their breeding period. The hormonal changes during breeding make them moody and cranky which has earned them a tag of being aggressive and territorial at times.
These changes are more prominent in male Blue-headed Pionus. Their aggression is directed at their partner and many-a-times, the breeders/owners are forced to clip males’ wings to protect the females from a probable attack during an anger fit.
Also, the males might get territorial if housed with another Pionus pair and this makes them attack the pair to drive them away. Housing multiple pairs only in a large cage/aviary are the only solution to prevent this behavior.
Blue-headed Pionus Talking Ability
With many pet parrots being great talkers, Blue-headed Pionus are also expected to possess great talking skills. But unfortunately, they are not considered as the talkers of the parrot kingdom. That said, they can still manage to learn a few words and names when taught with dedication. But the voice tends to be unclear and raspy. Additionally, they are good at mimicking sounds picked from the surroundings like alarm ringing, microwave buzzing, etc.
Blue-headed Pionus Breeding
A Blue-headed Pionus attains sexual maturity at an average age of 4 years. But most of them prefer breeding at 5 years of age. The breeding season usually falls around May. But in the North American region, it tends to start from February/March and goes until June/July.
A female Blue-headed Pionus normally lays 3 to 4 eggs in a clutch but, more often than not, they are mostly 5 eggs in a clutch. The eggs are hatched after around 26- 28 days of incubation. The male bird takes the responsibility of taking care of all the nest activities while the female incubates. Once the chicks are born, they are taken care of by both the parents equally.
Blue-headed baby Pionus is difficult to raise and hence, is best left with the parents only until a week or two after they are hatched. The baby bird leaves the nest after about 12 weeks.
Blue-headed Pionus Colors
As the name suggests, these birds have a blue head along with their neck and upper breast. The beautiful plumage of the Blue-headed Pionus is immensely popular among the pet owners. The upright part of the bird’s body is mainly bright green color, with bronze overtones on atop of wings. The head is a bright and radiant blue color, and this extends to the mid part of the bird’s breast. They have darker, dusty colored circles on either side of their cheeks, and red feathers on the undersides of their tails, like other species of the Pionus family.
Another indefinite feature of these birds is a characteristic red patch on the upper mandible of their black beak. The eyes are dark brown and the eyering is gray. The legs and feet are also grey. There is no visual differentiation between both the sexes.
Blue-headed Pionus Diet and Care
With petting come the responsibilities and feeding is one paramount duty that shapes the pet in the best of manner. A parrot species calls for adequate attention to the nutritional content and so does the Blue Headed Pionus’ diet. While captive, he blooms to the finest degree when fed a high-quality commercial pellet diet, supplemented with a seed mix formulated for large birds. Always remember that these foods must be served in simultaneity with a variety of fresh bird-safe fruits and vegetables to ensure that they inherit the proper proportion of vitamins. Apart from seeds and nuts, occasionally treat him with homemade bird treats such as bird bread recipes, sprouts, and other nutritious creations, which, in a way, help you bond with him better.
Blue-headed Pionus Cage Needs
Just like any other playful parrot, these birds must have access to appropriate living conditions. And the cage forms the most important aspect of it. Being energetic and active species, facilitating a large cage to Blue-headed Pionus is advised for optimum physical and mental health. A cage that is 10 inches wide and deep and at least 18 inches high offers plenty of in-cage flights and movements.
Having secured a large case is only the first step towards having a happy Blue-headed Pionus. A cage without accessories is like a house without furniture, they not only are items of utility for the bird but also make his life comfortable. Water and food dishes are the most basic accessories in the bird’s cage. Next in line are toys and that too, plenty of them. The toys keep these medium-sized birds physically and mentally fit. And then comes the perches. They make the bird feel at home. Perches of varying lengths and thickness help simulate the natural habitat of these birds. They never feel out-of-place all their lives.
Blue-headed Pionus Exercise
Pionus parrots proactively engage themselves in one activity or another for which they need a lot of space to play and exercise each day. If the bird has a cage fitted with varied perches, he gets ample opportunities of staying fit by hopping up and down all day. That said, one should make sure that they have ample time out of their daily chores to spend a minimum of 3 to 4 hours with him outside of the cage per day. The time spent with him outside the cage should be strictly under supervision. If possible, bird proofing the room one tends to play in with him is advised to avoid unfortunate accidents. Pionus have an inquisitive mind and tend to risk their lives often out of an adventure.
Quiet, sweet-tempered, and loving, the Blue Headed Pionus has enjoyed great popularity as a pet for many years, and it seems that this tradition sees no end. While they are charming, easygoing birds, it cannot be stressed enough that they don’t turn out to be the best pets for everybody. Being playful and fun-loving, they demand quite a time and attention from their owners to stay healthy and happy. If denied, they fear to fall into depression rather sooner. But if one is ready to commit to the little demands of this species, they turn out to be man’s best friend for years to come.
Featured image credit :
Paul B from London, London / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)