Yellow-faced Amazon


Of all the Amazons in my facility, the Yellow-faced Amazon, Am azoria xantbops, is the species I consider to be one most ready to breed. They are not the most prolific of the Amazon genus, since few pairs produce more than one clutch per year. This is true even if they are encouraged by either the removal of the eggs as


they are laid or by the removal of the complete clutch.

Those with compatible breeding pairs of Yellow-faced Amazons are fortunate since this small parrot can prove difficult to pair. When problems do occur in the pairing of these Amazons, it is usually the male that is over zealous, especially at the approach of the breeding season. Such bullying can be curtailed by cutting one to two inches from the flight feathers of one wing on the male. This will unbalance the bully, giving the hen that little edge to keep out of the male's way without becoming exhausted. But this common pecking order is not usually the case with xantbops.

It is one of my great pleasures to have third generation xantbops breeding for me. My first birds came to me from Europe; not as pairs, but as males and females. All were unflighted as their wing feathers had been clipped. 1 had hoped that they would molt out and grow new flight feathers. But on examination they were found to have been mutilated in an attempt to pinion on capture. Sadly these birds will never again en joy flying.

During the period of time when our first arrivals were held in quarantine, attempts were made to pair them. Each bird was readily identified with the aid of food dye. Close observations were kept on the cage units; if'bird.Aappeared to be interested in bird C, this pair was then placed side by side away from the other two. After quarantine the pairs were given large flight cages, but still the females were upset with the males. They just would not accept the males and with only two pairs of birds to work with, there were not too many other choices to follow. These behavior problems were eventually resolved. The females were each placed in a sizable outdoor aviary occupied by a rowdy group of juvenile macaws and Amazons. This proved to be a great leveler. The youngsters had no fearofa small female Yellow-faced Amazon and pushedhertotheside by simply


nudging her out of their way.

This time when the males kept in small cages were brought into the aviaries, there was no sign of aggression. Each female showed interest and spent time sitting on the top of the male's cage. Later when the males were released into the female's large aviary, the females accepted them. The two pairs were then placed in the breeding units indoors before the cold winter wou Id set in.

The addition of other Yellow-faced Amazon stock acquired gave me three separate blood lines. This is of great importance in keeping the gene pool as wide as possible. Not only do my own breeding stock produce healthy youngsters, but the pairs I pass on will be unrelated and in turn should produce good stock.

Nesting takes place during the later winter months, any time between_January and March. ln the bird's natural habitat, the Yellow-faced Amazon nests in terrestrial termite mounds. In captivity the usual wooden nest box is readily accepted.

If the nest box is lined with rotting


wood it will be much appreciated. The hen will soon reduce it to a soft bedding material. We sometimes forget just what good wood spoilers small parrots can be. Likewise, the entrance of the nest box needs to be protected with an edging of metal, otherwise it can be chewed until the box has been whittled away. The birds may then abandon the nest because it lets in too much light. A few strips of wood can be attached to reduce the size of the opening. This will then give the birds something. to work on, rather than the nest box itself.

The clutch contains up to three and sometimes four eggs. These are laid between one an cl three (or more) day intervals. The incubation period is 23-24 days. The emerging chicks are extremely active and carry a bright yellow down. Even though the hens are difficult to pair and both sexes can put on a good show of aggression towards visitors (making threatening runs towards them, holding their wings clown but well off the body), the Yellow-faced Amazons do make good parents.