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Pionus Parrot – A Comprehensive Guide to the Pionus World

Pionus parrot

Pionus parrot isn’t as popular as other species, and it’s often out-flashed and out-talked by other parrots like mighty Amazon greys. But this bird is actually one of the best-kept secrets in the avian world!

Are you thinking about picking Pionus as a starter bird to kick off your journey as an avian parent?

Well, this comprehensive guide about Pionus will help you make the right decision.

In this article, we’ll share with you the:

  • origin and personality of this parrots species
  • Pionus’ speech ability and conservation status
  • tips on how to raise and bond with a Pionus parrot successfully

So, if you want to learn some insights into this bird, join us as we dive deep down into their world.

Species Overview

Scientific name: Pionus
Size: 10 to 12 inches
Weight: 8 to 9 ounces
Lifespan: 30 + years
Speech Abilities: Can talk and mimic words; Vocal communicator

Introducing the Pionus Parrot

Pionus parrots are medium-sized birds measuring around 10 to 12 inches. They sport a square tail like Amazon parrots and they feature a bare, fleshy eye-ring surrounding their entire eye and red feathers on their vent.

But those are the only basic features Pionus parrots share. The rest of their body varies in color depending on their species.

And there are 7 different types of Pionus parrots, namely:

  • Blue-headed Pionus: As its name suggests, this Pionus features a blue head and neck plumage with a green body and yellow upper breast.
  • Red-billed Pionus: Similar to the previous type, this Pionus bird sports a green body feathering with a dull blue chest and red bill.
  • Scaly-headed Pionus: This type is unique due to its scaly head appearance that blends well with a dark brownish green body and blue throat patch.
  • White-crowned Pionus: This Pionus bird boasts a dull dark blue body plumage with a white forehead, crown, and beak.
  • Speckled-faced or Plum-crowned Pionus: This type is also distinct since it has a red wine-colored forehead with mottled white patches on the forehead and crown and red under-tail coverts.
  • Bronzed-winged Pionus: This bird got its name from the bronze-green feathers on its shoulders and backs. But its plumage is mostly dark bluish-purple with hints of white and pink coloring under its chin and on its chest.
  • Dusky Pionus: True to its name, this Pionus parrot is dark-colored with mostly grayish-brown feathers covering its body. The tail and edges of its wings are blue and its necks have a few white speckles.

blue headed pionus parrot

Pionus Parrot Origin and Habitat

All eight species of Pionus parrots can be found in South and Central America. They prefer to nestle in forested areas, savannas, and mountainous regions. 

Pionus Parrot’s Temperament

Pionus parrots typically have a kind and affectionate demeanor. So, you won’t get disappointed if you’d raise a Pionus parrot as pet. They have the same happy personality as their distant cousins. 

Pionus parrots’ low maintenance requirements and friendly personalities make these birds great pets for apartment dwellers and first-time bird owners.

But even if they’re less noisy than other parrots, they still produce light, high-pitched squeaking cries that may annoy people sensitive to noise.

Pet owners typically characterize them as curious, friendly, and easily trainable parrots.

Compared to other parrots, they are less likely to bite. But even if their bite isn’t as hard as the Amazon’s or cockatoos, you still have to supervise children when playing with a Pionus parrot. 

The Pionus parrots love to receive attention, but some of them, especially the males, may bond with a single human and fiercely protect that person from perceived threats, such as other family members.

These birds are naturally active and could gain weight if confined. 

Pionus Parrot’s Egg Laying and Mating Behavior

In the wild, Pionus parrots nest in tree cavities. Their breeding season starts in May, but it could vary depending on the location. For example, they can breed as early as February or March to June or July in America

Pionus birds start breeding when they’re about 3 to 5 years old, and the average clutch size is 3 to 4 white eggs. 

The females incubate their eggs for 26 days and wean their young babies when they’re 12 weeks old. 

These hatchlings become independent when they’re three months old and fully mature at 2 to 4 years. 

Pionus birds can get noisy and rowdy during breeding, and male Pionus tend to get aggressive towards their mates. 

So, if you have nearby neighbors that are sensitive to noise, it’s worth considering when deciding to breed a Pionus.  

Intelligence and Talking Abilities of the Pionus Parrot

Pionus parrot is an intelligent species. They’re quieter than other birds, so they’re perfect for those living in apartments. 

However, they should be in a peaceful environment because a house filled with barking dogs and screaming children can make the Pionus noisy. 

But Can Pionus Parrot Talk?

Pionus parrots aren’t the best talkers in the avian world, but some of them can build a decent word bank. 

However, their voice is raspy and unclear, so it can be challenging to understand their words. 

They also mumble, chirp and tweet, producing a hissing sound when frightened. So, they may appear like they have trouble breathing. 

pionus parrot price

Where to Find Pionus Parrot for Sale

Five out of eight Pionus parrot species are available in the US, including:

  • Blue-headed
  • White-capped Pionus
  • Bronze-winged
  • Scaly-headed
  • Dusky Pionus

You can find them at pet stores or local breeders. 

How Much Does the Pionus Parrot Cost?

Pionus parrot price ranges from $200 to as much as $1,700 depending on the variety, quality, and speech ability. 

If you want to save a couple of dollars, Pionus parrot adoption is the cheaper route for you. You can adopt one from bird rescue organizations such as the following:

Rescued birds are usually donated by owners who couldn’t take care of them any longer or have given up on them. Others lost their home and ended up in rescue organizations. 

There are risks involved in adoption and buying Pionus parrots. But regardless of how you acquire them, you must check the bird’s background and history to ensure you get a healthy Pionus bird. 

Is Pionus Endangered? – Their Conservation Status

Pionus parrots aren’t endangered. Currently, the Pionus species below are listed by IUCN as “Least Concern”, but their population is decreasing.

  • Pulm-crowned Parrot
  • Scaly-headed Parrot
  • White-crowned Parrot
  • Bronze-winged Parrot
  • White-capped Parrot
  • Red-billed Parrot
  • Dusky Parrot
  • Blue-breasted parrot

But how about the Blue-headed ones? Are blue-headed Pionus endangered?

This variant’s population is stable, so they’re not endangered and they’re listed by IUCN as “least concern”. 

Pionus Parrot Lifespan

Pionus Parrot Average Lifespan

So, how long do Pionus parrots live? These birds can live up to 30 years when taken care of properly. Others can even reach 40 years of age! However, their lives often last just 3 to 10 years due to accidents and poor nutrition. 

They may also develop several diseases that can shorten their Pionus parrot lifespan. Let’s dive deeper into that below.

Common Health Issues of the Pionus Parrot

Pionus pets are generally healthy. However, they’re susceptible to the following health problems:

Vitamin-A Deficiency

This vitamin is crucial for an avian’s immune system. Lack of vitamin A causes appetite loss, slowed growth due to weakness, and ruffled plumage. Birds can also be more vulnerable to infection. 

So, avoid feeding your Pionus with mostly seeds and use a nutritionally-balanced pellet diet with fruits and veggies instead. Even a mixed diet of 1/2 seeds and 1/2 pellets lacks vitamin A. 

If your Pionus has nasal discharge, sneezing, conjunctivitis, poor feather quality, and exhibiting feather picking, these are signs of vitamin A deficiency. 

Treatments include treating secondary infections, giving vitamin A supplements, and switching to good-quality pellets.  

Fungal Infections

Pionus parrots are also prone to fungal infections like aspergillosis, cryptococcosis, candidiasis, rhodotoruliasis, and mucormycosis. The common causes of diseases are:

  • poor immune system
  • overcrowding
  • poor nutrition, ventilation, and sanitation
  • respiratory toxins

Look out if your bird shows lethargy, depression, weight loss, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, loss and change of voice, and anorexia. Those are the common symptoms of fungal infection.

The treatment may vary depending on the fungi that caused the infection. So, it’s best to consult your avian vet for the best medical treatment. 

Visceral Gout

This musculoskeletal disorder occurs in the tissues of the bird’s internal organs. 

Birds with this type of gout usually experience kidney damage and accumulate most urate crystals in their internal organs and the surrounding parts. 

The treatment depends on the underlying cause. Avian vets may prescribe urine acidifiers and recommend reducing birds’ protein, calcium, vitamin D3, and salt intake. To ensure your bird receives the right minerals and controls gout, vets may conduct feed analysis. 

Obesity

Older birds with seed-based diets are prone to obesity, leading to atherosclerosis and fatty liver disease. It results from a lack of exercise and consuming more calories than it burns.

If your bird is obese, you must switch from an all-seed to a pelleted diet with small amounts of fruits and vegetables. 

white headed pionus bird

Care Tips for Pionus Parrot

Despite knowing the health issues they’re susceptible to and other downsides of the Pionus species, do you still want to pursue being a Pionus parrot owner? Well, becoming an avian parent is fulfilling but it comes with loads of responsibility and commitment.

But here are some care tips that will help your Pionus bird thrive in your home despite being in captivity.

Pionus Bird’s Diet

Let’s talk first about their diet, which is one of the most important concerns for every bird owner?

What do Pionus parrots eat?

These birds typically thrive in captivity when fed a high-quality commercial pelleted bird feed, supplemented with a seed mixture designed for large birds to ensure that your Pionus birds receive the proper levels of vitamins.

You must also provide a range of fresh, bird-safe fruits and vegetables. Additionally, these parrots typically eat a range of handmade bird treats like sprouts, bird bread recipes, and other wholesome foods.

What fruits can Pionus eat?

Pionus parrots eat berries, apples, mango, blackberries, grapes, and blueberries. They may also enjoy eating papaya and strawberries. 

Caging Requirements

What size cage does a Pionus parrot need?

Well, the Pionus parrot bird cage size should be at least 24 x 24 x 36 inches.  But a larger cage is even better and the recommended bar spacing is 3/4 inch. 

It’s worth noting that like every bird, Pionus can get messy and poop a lot of times. So, cleaning their cage must also be part of your routine if you don’t want your birds to get sick.

Grooming

Pionus parrots in the wild love rain, so they enjoy a hand-held shower and lukewarm water too! These birds have longer beaks than most parrots, so we recommend providing some mineral blocks to promote beak grooming. 

Their nails may overgrow, so be sure to clip them or control them with rough perches. 

You must also know that Pionus parrots start molting at one year old and shed feathers several times yearly to replace damaged ones. So kindly keep their environment warm during this process. 

Exercise 

Pionus parrots require a lot of space to play and exercise daily due to their high activity level. 

Anyone interested in having one of these birds should make sure they have enough time in their schedules to offer their pets a minimum of 3 to 4 hours every day outside of the cage. 

As Pionus are quite curious and could get into an accident if left to their own devices, this outside-of-the-cage activity should be supervised in a bird-proof environment.

How to Bond With Your Pionus Parrot

Pionus parrots are friendly and loving, but building trust and creating a strong bond takes time. So, if you’re a novice bird owner wishing to grow closer to your bird, here are some tips to follow and keep in mind. 

1. Hand rear your Baby Pionus

They’ll bond closely with you if you’ll, but hatchlings and hand rear them. Baby Pionus are available online and from local breeders. But make sure to only buy from reputable breeders. Otherwise, you could get a baby bird with health problems. 

2. Separate your Pionus from other birds

Keep your baby Pionus away from other birds until it grows and molts to encourage it to bond with you. 

By taking a precautionary 30-day quarantine, you can also prevent the disease from spreading.

3. Hold him at least 6 or 7 times a day

Physical contact can help your pet bird get used to you. So, spend time playing with or petting your bird. 

4. Imitate their sound

Baby birds feel comforted when they hear cooing and whistling sounds, so try imitating birds in the wild. But if it appears frightened, switch back to your normal voice instead of being comforted. 

5. Feed your Pionus parrot by hand

You can strengthen your bond with your bird by feeding him by hand for the first few months of his life. It’s fine to leave some snacks in their cage, but their meals and treats should come from you. 

Avoid yelling or hitting your bird if it bites you because it will only make them more afraid of you. 

blue head pionus parrots perching

Common Questions About Pionus Parrot

Are Pionus parrots good pets?

Pionus parrots make excellent pets because of their friendly personality, intelligence, and talking ability. Blue-headed, Maximillian(Scaly-headed), and White Capped are the most commonly kept pets. 

Are Pionus parrots good for beginners?

Yes, Pionus parrots are ideal for beginners because they’re friendly, easy to train, and easygoing. These small parrots also have personalities but are not cuddly because they’re reserved. 

Are Pionus parrots rare?

Some Pionus species like Massena, Plum-crowned, and White-headed Pionus are rare. They aren’t available in the pet trade, and many other species are decreasing in numbers. 

Do Pionus parrots smell?

Pionus give off a sweet, musky odor. So, you don’t have to worry about them giving off a stinky smell unless their cage is full of poop and mess. 

How smart is a Pionus parrot?

They are intelligent parrots who are adept at mimicking human words and phrases. Their vocabulary isn’t as extensive as Africa greys’, but they can build a decent word bank. 

Are Pionus parrots dusty?

They aren’t as dusky as powder-based species like African greys and cockatoos. But they still produce dust which makes them dustier than oil-based feathers. 

Are Pionus parrots playful?

Yes! Pionus parrots are playful. They enjoy raucous and rowdy playtime with other flock members or humans. But some birds aren’t fond of playing because they’d rather fly around, hang out, and watch the surroundings.

Are Pionus parrots cuddly?

Pionus birds aren’t cuddly. They’re rather reserved but once they get used to you and bond closely with you, they can be affectionate too without being clingy.

Does blue-headed Pionus make good pets?

Blue-headed Pionus parrots are loving, charming, easygoing pets, but they’re not for everybody. Like other birds, they sometimes get nippy and require lots of socialization. 

Pionus Parrot Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Friendly and Low-maintenance
  • Can pick up a few words
  • Sings beautifully
  • Not as loud as other parrots
Cons
  • Can get nippy sometimes
  • Rowdy during the breeding season
  • Can be a one-person bird
bronze-winged pionus parrot
Bronze-winged Pionus Parrot

Final Thoughts About Pionus Parrot – Is It The Right Bird For You?

The Pionus parrot is prized by avian enthusiasts for its loving and easygoing personality, visually striking appearance, and low maintenance requirements. On top of that, this bird species can talk and sing for you!

That’s why it’s appealing to first-time bird owners and apartment dwellers.

However, you need to remember that Pionus can get nippy sometimes. And even if it’s quieter than other parrots, it’s loud and rowdy during the breeding season.

But these traits are common in birds. You can opt not to breed it if you’re sensitive to noise and train it to get rid of aggressive behaviors.

Overall, Pionus parrots make excellent pets, and even if they aren’t the best talkers nor the prettiest breed, they can sure add a pop of color to your world.

READ NEXT: Senegal Parrot – Everything You Need to Know

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