Blue-headed Pionus

Blue Headed Pionus

Blue-headed Pionus , pionus menstruus is about 28cm (11inches) when adult size. The blue -headed  is by far the best known member of its genus. Adult birds have the head, neck and upper breast blue, of a rich, dark shade. The feathers of the throat are pink at the base, also on the outer edge in some feathers, thus producing an irregular pink patch.  The feathers of the lower breast are green, tinged with brown and edged with blue. There is a bronze patch on the shoulders formed by the lesser and median wing coverts, the primaries are blue on the outer webs.  The under tail coverts are scarlet and tipped with green to form a most unusual pattern.  There is a large area of red at the base of each tail feather. The outer webs of the outer tail feathers are blue.  The bill is dark gray with red markings at the base of both mandibles, iris is dark brown.

Immature birds are much less colorful, the blue areas are replaced by dull green until they each adult plumage at about one year old. At this age they will lose the red or orange fronted and which is usually a feature of immature plumage.  This species is difficult to sex.  In some individuals the male has the head and neck darker blue - but this is not a reliable guide.


The blue-head pionus has a very extensive distribution over the greater part of tropical South America: from southern Costa Rica in Central America, also Columbia, Venezuela and the Buianas south to northern Bolivia and central Brazil. It is also found in Trinidad.  It is common in many parts of its range and prefers dense forest in most localities.  It has a far greater range than any other member of the genus, and is common and widespread.


Blue-headed Pionus’ are usually very quite birds.  They might learn to say a few words, but are not known for their talking ability.


Young birds make delightful pets and they are very suitable for households especially with children. Blue-heads are playful birds and may learn to say a few words.  They usually have a gentle temperament and have excellent pet potential. When under stress, Pionus wheeze and gasp in a manner which is almost alarming to those who do not know what it signifies. If left alone (don’t treat as a respiratory disease) it will cease.


Although Pionus are not real rambunctious,  they still should have a fairly roomy cage.   24" x 20" would be the smallest you would want to go, but a 34" x 24" would be much better.  That way you have lots of room to hang those toys, and a snuggle bed. They do not chew a lot on a cage, but a powder-coated cage would be an excellent recommendation (with any bird). Suitable bar spacing would be 3/4 inch to 1 inch.


The best diet for any parrot such as the blue-head would be pellets and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. They are fond of pine nuts and some love peanuts. Carrot, celery, sweet corn, elderberries or among their favorite.  With a good pellet diet additional vitamins are not necessary except maybe spirulina.  Spirulina will enhance the color on your Pionus and make those brilliant colors even more vibrant.  There are a lot of mixes on the market today which will broadened a vegetable and fruit diet.  Seed should be fed only in small portions by hand, maybe when doing trick training or “good-bird” offerings.  A must with any parrot is a water bottle system.  This will provide fresh, clean water to your bird at all times, even when you aren’t home for a couple of days.


They will usually reach maturity between 2 and 3 years of age.


Be sure that you have unrelated birds if you decide to breed.  They can only be sexed either by blood DNA sexing or surgically by a qualified vet.  Pionus is breeding condition can be aggressive.  Some mated pairs show little affect toward each other. If they do, mutual preening may become so aggressive that the head is stripped of feathers.  Aggression is demonstrated by flaring the tail, and walking along the perch with head lowered and beak held against the perch.  A female will lay between 2 and 5 eggs, although will usually raise 4 babies at the most.

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