Orange-Winged Amazon

Amazona amazonica Northern South America

Orange-winged Amazons are medium sized, stocky green amazons. The face is variably colored with blue, yellow and sometimes orange. They are distinguished from the similar blue-fronted amazon by having yellow on the forehead surrounded by blue, where-as the blue-front has blue on the forehead surrounded typically by yellow. The orange wing is named for it’s unique orange wing speculum while the blue-front has a red wing speculum. The beak is dark horn coloed tipped in black. Primary and secondary flight feathers are green with blue tips. Tail feathers green with orange panels on the outer tail feathers and yellowish green tips.

Range is widespread in northern South America, mostly east of the Andes from Colombia to south eastern Brazil.

Inhabits many types of lowland forests, savannahs and seasonal flood plains. They nest in tree cavities. They eat tree seeds, new leaves, palm fruits, berries, pods, fruits, acorns and buds. Frequently found at forest edges and often around cities. Occasionally cause crop destruction, especially corn crops.

Length is 11 to 13 inches. Weight is 350-450 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 are a paler green and have less extensive facial coloring.

Orange-winged 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 - Orange-winged amazons are very popular. They have moderate to poor speaking ability. They are intelligent, inquisitive birds by tend to be more shy than the more popular species. Juveniles make tame and very handelable pets. They are relatively uncommon 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 – Orange-winged 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. Weight should be monitored and if they become too heavy, food volumes should be fed restricted to prevent obesity. The diet should be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Feed approximately ¼ cup of Kaytee Exact and 1/4 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, Orange-winged Amazons should be offered a little to no sunflower or safflower seeds 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. Orange-winged Amazons are heavy bodied and care must be taken not to cut too many feathers. Excessive wing clipping can result in injuries from falling.

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 Orange-winged amazons are monomorphic (sexes are not visually distinct). Surgical sexing or DNA sexing must be used to confirm sex of breeders.

Housing - Orange-winged 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 – Orange-winged Amazons are relatively difficult to breed in captivity. In North America Orange-winged 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.

Nest Box - Grandfather style wooden boxes can be used. Size should be approximately 12” x 12” x 24”.

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

Aggression Male Orange wings are seldom aggressive toward their mates. Clipping the wings of the male prior to the breeding season may be necessary in aggressive individuals to help the female to escape in case the male becomes aggressive.

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

Common diseases and disorders

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

Conservation Status – Common - Orange-winged Amazons are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In the past large numbers were traded and used locally for pets which has caused local population declines. Although imported in large numbers in the 1970’s and 1980’s, orange-winged amazons are relatively uncommon in the United States and relatively few were established as breeders.