Festive Amazon

Amazona festiva Northern South America

Festive Amazons are beautiful, medium sized, Amazon parrots. The body color is forest green with slight black scalloping. Festives have red to maroon markings on the brows and blue crowns and a dark frontal band. Primary and secondary flight feathers are green with blue tips. Tail feathers green with yellowish green tips. Red patches on outer tail feathers. Festives have a unique bright red patch on the rump, which is not found in any other species.


A. f. festiva – From Amazon river basin – beak is horn colored, narrow red frontal band, yellow on forecrown.
A. f. bodini – From Orinoco river – beak is black, red on crown is much more extensive

Inhabits lowland tropical rainforests along the Amazon and Orinoco rivers and tributaries. Live in swampy forests, river islands, cacao plantations, gallery forests and savannahs. Found in pairs and small flocks of up to 50 birds. Nest in tree cavities. They feed primarily in trees but because of their remote habitat, details of the wild diet are poorly known.

Length is 11 to 13 inches. Weight is 350 to 450 grams. Males are generally larger than females and have larger heads and beaks. Males also tend to be slightly more colorful. Eyes of juveniles are brown while eyes of adults are orange-yellow. Juveniles have mainly green rumps and less extensive facial coloring.

Festive amazons can probably live up to 50-60 years or more. Little is known about their life span in captivity. Breeding age is approximately 3-5 years.

Personality - Festive amazons seldom available as pets. They have moderate to poor speaking ability. They are intelligent, and inquisitive but tend to be relatively shy. Males in general are much more common than females. Juveniles are generally tame and handelable. They are common in captivity at this time and are seldom available for pets. They are active by nature and are not so prone to obesity as other Amazons.

Activities – Festive Amazons should always be provided with toys, blocks of wood or branches that they can chew. In order to ensure safety companion amazons should not be allowed unsupervised freedom in the home as they often encounter toxins or dangerous items. Young amazons should be socialized to many people and exposed to a variety of situations such as new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends, wing and nail clips, etc. to avoid fear of novel situations. They need to have some space for exercise.

Dietary needs - Amazons should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded diet) as a basis for good nutrition. Kaytee exact is an excellent staple diet for amazons. Monitor their weight to guard against overweight and volumes should be restricted to prevent obesity. The diet should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Feed approximately 1/3 cup of Kaytee Exact and 1/3 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Monitor food intake. Overfeeding leads to pickiness, selective feeding and wasteful throwing of food. Because of their tendency to obesity, Festive Amazons should be offered seeds or nuts by hand as treats for bonding. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet.

Birds, which are fed only seeds, will need vitamin and mineral supplementation to prevent deficiency diseases. Preferably vitamins should be added to soft food rather than putting in the water as this dilutes the vitamins, water soluble vitamins break down rapidly and water with sweetened and vitamins is a good growth medium for bacteria. Vitamin added to the outside of seeds is usually lost when the bird shells the seeds.

Grooming - Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or gently dried with a blow drier. Care should be taken not to clip the wing feathers excessively as amazons often fall and injure themselves. Clip only the primary flight feathers and only enough so the bird will glide to the floor. Festive Amazons are relatively light bodied and require removal of more flight feathers than most amazons.

Identification - All companion and breeding birds should be individually identified to assist in recovery if lost and assist in maintenance of medical and genealogical records. Many breeders apply closed legs bands when chicks are young. While they present a slight risk of entrapment closed bands are preferable to no identification, especially for breeding birds. Microchips, which can be implanted into the muscle or under the skin, are a reliable means of identification but require electronic readers to verify identification. Tattoos may be used but often fade or become illegible with time. Footprints may have some application in identification.

Sexing Festive amazons are monomorphic (sexes are not visually distinct). Surgical sexing or DNA sexing must be used to confirm sex of breeders. Males are much more common than females. Due to their limited status in captivity, mature festives should be used for breeding.

Housing - Festive amazons are very active and should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allows. They should also be supplied with a retreat to guard against insecurity and fear responses. Ideally the cage should provide room for flight. Durable cage construction is not as critical as it is for macaws and cockatoos. Locks or escape proof latches may be necessary on cages. Ideally the bird will have an outdoor cage as well to allow playtime in the fresh-air and sunlight.

Breeding – Festive Amazons are relatively difficult to breed in captivity. In North America Festive amazons breed predominantly in the spring and have a limited breeding season typically from February or March to June or July. Clutch size is typically 3 to 4 eggs. One inch by one inch by 14 gauge welded wire, or 1” X ½ “ welded wire is a good choice for cage construction. A suggested size is 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall by 8 feet long suspended 4 feet above the ground or floor. Breeing males become very aggressive toward the keeper, often attemping to bite the keeper while feeding.

Nest Box - Grandfather style wooden boxes can be used. Size should be approximately 10” x 10” x 28”.

Incubation period is approximately 24-26 days. Chicks will usually fledge at approximately 10 to 12 weeks of age. Festive Amazons are relatively easy to hand-rear. Most hand rearing formulas can be used successfully. Kaytee Exact regular and Macaw hand rearing formulas are good choices.

Aggression Male Festives are occasionally aggressive toward their mates. Clipping the wings of the male prior to the breeding season may be necessary in aggressive individuals.

Festives can be noisy when in breeding condition. When breeding amazons, noise and proximity to neighbors must be considered.

Common diseases and disorders

  • Feather-picking
  • Psittacosis
  • Poor eating habits
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Toxicity, ingestion of metals

Conservation Status – Stable- Festive Amazons are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Festive amazons were imported into the United States in very large numbers in the 1970’s but are seldom seen now. They are uncommon in breeding collections in the United States and unlikely to be available for use as pets.