St. Vincents Amazon

Amazon guildingii Island of St. Vincent – Lesser Antilles

Also known as the Vincentian Amazon

St. Vincents amazons are very large, uniquely colored Amazons. They are very variable in coloration with three color morphs for the body color – the brown morph, green morph and orange morph. The crown is white or pale yellow and surrounded by light blue that extends down the neck and cheeks . Throat is orange with blue tips. Flight feathers are blue with yellow bases.
Tail feathers have a broad yellow terminal band and a blue subterminal band. The beak is horn colored.

Endemic to the Island of St. Vincent in the Lesser Antilles. Confined to areas of remaining native moist forest on the east and west sides of the islands central ridge. They forage for a variety of foods plants in the forest canopy. They nest is tree hollows.

Length is 15.5 to 16 inches. Weight is 650-800 grams for birds in good condition. Birds weighing over 800 grams may be obese depending on body size of the bird. Very obese birds may weigh over 1000 grams.

Males are generally larger than females and have larger heads and beaks. Eyes of juveniles are brown and adults are orange.

St. Vincents amazons can probably live up to 50-60 years judging by life span of similar species. Little is known about their life span in captivity.

Personality - St. Vincents amazons are intelligent, inquisitive birds with excellent speaking ability. Mature birds, especially males become aggressive. Due to their relative rarity in captivity, they are unlikely to be available for pets. They are active by nature and have a tendency toward obesity if closely confined.

Activities – St. Vincents amazons should always be provided with toys, blocks of wood or branches that they can chew. 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 much 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. 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 1/2 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, St. Vincents Amazons should be fed no sunflower or safflower seeds or seeds should only be given as treats. Food intake and weight must be carefully monitored. 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. St. Vincents are heavy bodies 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 St. Vincents amazons are monomorphic (no visual difference between sexes) however males tend to be large and have larger heads and beaks. Surgical sexing or DNA sexing must confirm sex of breeders.

Housing - St. Vincents amazons are sedentary by nature and need exercise so they should be provided the largest cage that space and budget allows. 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 – St. Vincents amazons are difficult to breed in captivity. In North America St. Vincents 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 2, rarely 3 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 5 feet wide by 5 feet tall by 20 feet long suspended 4 feet above the ground or floor.

Nest Box - Double entrance boxes may be used to reduce the chance of the male trapping the female in the box. Grandfather style wooden boxes can be used. Size should be approximately 18” x 18” x 24” or 36 deep.

Incubation period is approximately 24-26 days. Chicks will usually fledge at approximately 10 to 12 weeks of age. St. Vincents amazons are relatively easy to hand-rear. Most hand rearing formulas can be used successfully.
Kaytee regular hand rearing formula is a good choice.

Male St. Vincents amazons frequently become aggressive toward their mates. Cage construction and management should take into consideration techniques to reduce mate aggression. Clipping the wings of the male prior to the breeding season will help the female to escape in case the male becomes aggressive. Aggressive behavior may occur in compatible breeding pairs. Aggression often occurs at the time of human visitation.
St. Vincents amazons are noisy especially when in breeding condition. When breeding amazons, noise and proximity to neighbors must be considered.

Common diseases and disorders

  • Obesity
  • Feather-picking
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Psittacosis (Chlamydiosis)
  • Poor eating habits
  • Bacterial, viral and fungal infections
  • Mate aggression
  • Toxicity, ingestion of metals
  • Toe necrosis
  • Fatty tumors

Conservation Status - Endangered- St. Vincents Amazons are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Their wild population is stable and estimated to be approximately 800 in 1994. They are at risk from habitat destruction associated with agricultural land uses. They are vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes. St. Vincents amazons are rare in captivity and difficult to breed. They are also listed on the United States Endangered Species List so permits are required for interstate sales. International trade is prohibited except under very except for valid conservation purposes.