Native to Central and South America and Mexico, Pionus is a larger family of parrot kingdom that includes a few species like Blue-headed or White-capped Pionus. But they all share certain similarities like a characteristic square short tail, chunky body, and bare eye-ring.
Many confuse them with Amazon parrots most of the time. But a major physical distinction is their bright red under-tail coverts that have earned them the name of ‘Red-vented Parrots’. Contrary to this Amazons have green under-tail coverts. And these aren’t the only differences between them. Though not as famous as Amazons, Pionus have managed to make a name for themselves and parrot lovers are taking keen interest in them. Let’s know a little about them.
The lifespan of a Pionus has been documented to vary a lot with a varying habitat. Pionus lifespan greatly depends on where he lives; in the wild or captivity.
Pionus Lifespan in the Wild
The surroundings in which the Pionus is being raised is capable of shortening or lengthening his lifespan. Found in subtropical and tropical forests of Central and South America and Mexico, Pionus live a comparatively shorter life than those bred in captivity. It has been averaged at around 22 years with sometimes going up to 25 years.
There are many reasons for them not enjoying a long life while in the wild. Falling prey to the wild animals or hunters, unfavorable temperature, and living conditions, environmental pollution, or non-availability of food and water are a few of the most common reasons for a shorter lifespan. Overcoming all these adversities, in addition to other things, can surely make a positive impact on their longevity.
Pionus Lifespan in Captivity
Pionus lifespan as pets may or may not be longer than their counterparts living in the wild. It all depends on the bird owners how long they want their Pionus to live.
Just like in the wild, Pionus can live on an average for 22 years with a maximum limit stretching to 25 years or so. But it is very common for Pionus to live up to 30 years and beyond courtesy love and care given by their owners. There have been much-recorded evidence where these birds have lived up to 40 years. So is it possible to increase the lifespan of Pionus?
The Pionus family is quite large and every species has a different average age. Of the popular ones, the Blue-headed Pionus lifespan average is around 40 years, which happens to be way more than that of his popular cousins. But that does not mean that this can not be stretched at all. Many owners have claimed their Blue-headed living by 43-45 years of age and that too, healthy and heartily.
How can Pionus lifespan be increased? All the owners that love their vivid-colored playful bird always look for the best answer to this question. Feeding a balanced diet is one of the best ways that if religiously followed, will exceed all the expectations of Pionus lifespan in captivity.
Diet plays an important role in elongating the lifespan of any living being. Just as no food intake can starve any being to death, the unbalanced ones can reduce its longevity by at least a few years.
Pionus Diet in the Wild
When in the wild, Pionus have a platter full of variety. From feeding on the seeds of all kinds of tropical trees and grass to taking in the nectar from varied flowers, the options are endless.
Additionally, the Pionus family also loves to feed on the insects and their larvae when in the wild to get their daily dose of minerals and proteins. Insects like mealworms along with their larvae are their favorite.
Pionus Diet in Captivity
Pionus as pets tend to have longer life in captivity provided they get a balanced diet along with the right care. A healthy and balanced diet not only keeps these birds in good health but also boosts their immunity. But this diet must be adjusted to his various life stages.
Baby Pionus Diet
A baby Pionus is not capable of self-feeding. Eating his feed from the dish and drinking water is practically impossible for the bird. Hence the Pionus owner has to hand-rear the baby bird just like Pionus parents rear him in the wild by mouth-feeding. The baby Pionus are fed store-bought formula with the help of a tube or syringe especially made for this purpose. This baby-food has all the nutrients in an optimum balance that a juvenile needs to stay healthy and grow naturally. No more than a tablespoon or two of the store-mix must be fed for a single meal. And to fulfill their daily nutrient requirements, two such meals every day are enough.
Adult Pionus Diet
An adult Pionus diet is completely different from a juvenile Pionus. All his daily dietary needs must be fulfilled majorly by serving him organic foods in raw or cooked form. Following kinds of foods keep these birds healthy:
Seeds must form a small part of the Pionus diet and many owners prefer them fortified to cover up the calcium and other scarce mineral needs. But the best way is not to feed them the market-bought seed-mix. Feed them oats, canary seeds, millets, safflower or sunflower seeds or a healthy mix of them all, they love it.
But before feeding any kind of seeds, make sure to either cook or soak them to make them easy to chew for the bird. A healthier way is to feed the seeds sprouted.
One can also rotate by replacing one or two seeds from the mixture with quinoa, chia, or barley, etc., depending on his bird’s preference. Top it with a chopped walnut or passionfruit to make it more interesting.
Like in the wild, Pionus loves feeding on fresh fruits in captivity too. Feed them apples, oranges, mango, blackberries, grapes, blueberries, or strawberries, the options are endless. One can serve them sliced, chopped, diced, or pureed. The owner needs to find his bird’s preference by trying with varied-sized portions.
Do not forget to remove the seeds from fruits like apples. Avoid all pitted fruits like apricots or avocado. Also, make sure to keep the feed fresh by discarding the stale serving. Any fruit bowl left uneaten by the bird for more than 4-5 hours might have become a breeding ground for bacteria.
To make Pionus platter wholesome, vegetables are a must. Feed them collard greens, kale, beet greens, watercress, or lettuce. Additionally, the orange and the dark-skinned vegetables fulfill their daily Vitamin A needs. Serve them small cubes of sweet potatoes, pumpkins, or winter squash. And to make their bones strong and healthy, add spinach or broccoli to maintain their calcium reserves.
Pellets are important to add all the missing nutrients to the Pionus diet. Available in pet stores or online, they must be of a high-quality brand only as they have no harmful additives.
Pionus must be fed varied nuts as they are a great source of EFA that strengthens the brain functioning. Nuts can be either sprinkled on their seed mix or must be given on special occasions only. A half nut a day is appropriate for the bird to keep body fat from accumulating.
Calcium is necessary for Pionus’ healthy and strong bones. The best way to fulfill their daily calcium needs is by providing them a cuttlebone to chew upon. It not only is a great calcium supplement but also helps in keeping the bird’s beak in shape.
To keep the Pionus hydrated, freshwater is a must. Water also regulates all their body functions along with maintaining optimum body temperature. A bowl filled with fresh water must always be present inside his cage. During summers, one must keep a backup water dish, in case the first one runs out of supply. Keep both the dishes filled all the time. Change the water each time before refilling the bowl. The freshwater must be of drinkable quality, i.e., sans any harsh chemicals or metals.
Pionus loves munching on insects at home too. Many owners love making them feel closest to their habitat serving them insects every now and then. But if it is impractical, serving him some boiled or scrambled eggs would help to supply the bird’s protein fix. But moderation is the key while serving eggs to Pionus as they have a lot of fat content in them.
A perfectly balanced diet choice can lend longevity to Pionus. They usually have an average life span of 22 years in the wild but are able to live more than 30 years in captivity courtesy a nutritious yet healthy diet. Each food portion to these birds must be served carefully as a wrong choice could prove fatal for them. And if there is any confusion, one can surely consult an expert or vet. All these things will ultimately get paid back in the Pionus giving company to his owner for many years to come.
Featured Photo Credit: Jessie Terwilliger CC