The Vinaceous Amazon Amazona vinacea


'Their orange-red eyes gleam with uncontrollable defiance; yet they are not wicked, but gentle, and even old ones, which have been tamed by a shot in flight, soon become tame. In captivity they are extremely quiet, but cunning and teachable; yet they learn comparatively little, and do not even speak distinctly. They must, in this respect, take secondary rank among the Amazons."

K. Petermann, a German aviculturist, penned this description of the Vinaceous Amazon during the late 1800s in a book written by Dr. Karl Russ. Thankfully, the passage of time and the experience of dedicated aviculturists have proven this Amazon very worthy of keeping and breeding. The Vinaceous Amazon is neither defiant nor stupid, as intimated in The Speaking Parrots.


The Vinaceous Amazon is the only Amazon with a red maxillary beak, the tip of which is horn colored. The forehead, chin, and lores are also red. The exquisite erectile feathers on the back of the neck are green with a band of soft bluish-grey near the edge. The upper breast is a brilliant wine red color, and this color may extend down into the abdominal area. Feathers in the abdominal area also have a bluish green tint. The carpal edge of the wing and wing speculum are red. There is also a red patch near the base of the lateral tail feathers, with the primary color of the tail being green with a little yellow at the tip. The feet are grey. The iris is red. There are color variations of the Vinaceous which may be due to the area from which it originated. Some specimens lack the intense vinous coloring on the under parts of the body.

The immature Vinaceous will have less brilliant coloring on the breast. The iris of an immature bird is paler than that of an adult. The red in the maxillary beak will be confined to the base. The red in the forehead is also less pronounced. The carpal edge of the wing is yellow.

The natural call of the Vinaceous Amazon can be raucous and loud, especially in a group setting during late afternoon. When content and while preening, it often emits a distinctive and delightful "purring" sound.

Range and Status

The Vinaceous Amazon is endemic to southeastern South America. It is most often found in the southeastern 

part of Brazil, eastern Paraguay, and the northeastern part of Argentina. Major declines in populations of this parrot have occurred as a result of extensive deforestation. As deforestation occurs, the species' habitat becomes increasingly fragmented, making the populations more accessible and vulnerable to hunting (primarily for the illegal bird trade).

In the areas noted above, the Vinaceous resides in the tropical and subtropical mixed evergreen forest, and favors pine trees. Seasonal movements occur in this species, which may be related to food supply and breeding habits. It is generally found in small flocks and possibly breeds in loose colonies.

This parrot was never imported into the United States as regularly as some other Amazon species. As a result of the Endangered Species Act, interstate commerce of this parrot requires a federal permit. The population in the wild is estimated at below 2,500 birds and it is a CITES 1 listed species. Its status is considered endangered.

Diet in Captivity

The diet for the Vinaceous Amazons I keep is similar to that of my other Amazon parrots. A high quality, extruded diet (I use Hagen Tropican) is offered free choice. In a separate bowl, a mixture of raw green and orange vegetables, fruits, sprouted grey-stripe sunflower, and pine nuts is offered five mornings per week. Oranges are a favorite food of this parrot. A very small amount of seed is offered on Saturday. The extruded diet is fed exclusively on Sunday. It is interesting to note that on Monday morning all of my Amazon pairs are eager for fresh Tropican and often prefer it first before turning to their fresh food.

Breeding Experience

My experience in keeping and breeding the Vinaceous Amazon is limited, but has been successful. I obtained my year old, parent-fledged juveniles in November, 2000. These eight birds were extremely nervous, almost panic stricken, and very wary of humans. To ease their transition, I quarantined them exactly as they were reared while with the parent birds, regardless of the sex ratio.

The young Amazons were noticeably calmer by the spring of 2001, and I decided to relocate them to a breeding