The Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa) is one of the largest Amazon parrot species.
The species is called the Mealy Amazon in the United States and the Blue-crowned Mealy Parrot in the United Kingdom.
Distribution / Range
The Mealy Parrot is endemic to tropical Central and South America.
Its range stretches from southern Mexico south into south-eastern Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, northern Bolivia and eastern Brazil; where they inhabit the sparse Amazon Rainforest.
The Mealy Parrots are social and can usually be found in pairs or in large flocks. They are even known to interact with other parrots, such as macaws. They are usually quiet, but can get loud at dusk and dawn.
These large amazon parrots average 38-41 cm (15 – 17 inches) in length, including the tail and typically weigh between 540 to 700 g (19.01-24.64 ounces). Some Mealy parrots, however, are much larger than this.
Though less colorful than related parrot species, Mealy Parrots have a patch of blue, purple, or violet on the top of their heads.
Along with the purple or blue crown, Mealy Parrot sometimes have patches of yellow on the head and usually have a green or mostly green body, with tail feathers being light green or lime at the tip.
Some Mealy Parrots have a light blue/teal sheen to their green coat, and an undercoat of yellow, blue, purple, red, and/or teal.
The beaks are usually yellowish. The eyes are a reddish-orange color, and underneath the eyes are usually white unfeathered rings.
Similar Species ID: In South America, it is commonly confused with the Yellow-crowned Amazon, but can be recognized by its larger size. It also has less yellow to the crown – although that is not entirely reliable, as some Yellow-crowned Amazons may show almost none.
They have a whitish tinge to their plumage and broader white eye-rings.
Also, the red of the leading edge of the wing is placed near the phalanx (not near the radiale), but this is often difficult to see (especially on perched birds). Their voices are also very different.
This species is often divided into subspecies:
- Mealy Parrot (A.f. farinosa) (Nominate (A. f. farinosa): Found in SE Colombia, S. Venezuela, the Guianas, Brazil and N. Bolivia). ID: Red carpel edge, yellow feathers on head (nominate form).
- Plain-colored Mealy Amazons (Amazona farinosa inornata) – Found in E. Panama, W. and N. Colombia, NW Venezuela and W. Ecuador.
- Chapman’s Mealy Amazons (Amazona farinosa chapmani) – Found in SE Colombia, E. Ecuador, E. Peru and NE Bolivia.
- Costa-Rica Mealy or the Green-headed Amazons (Amazona farinosa virenticeps) – Found in Nicaragua to W. Panama.
- Blue-crowned Mealy or the Guatemalan Amazons (Amazona farinosa guatemalae) – Found in SE Mexico to Honduras
Breeding / Reproduction:
Sexually mature Mealy Parrots usually form monogamous relationships with a single partner. Courtship usually begins in early spring – commencing in December through June.
The hen will usually lay three or four eggs in a tree-cavity nest. She incubates the eggs for 24 – 28 days and is fed by the male who regurgitates food for her and, once the chicks hatched, for them as well.
The male will eat for both himself and the female during the incubation period. He will regurgitate the food for the female to eat.
He will also help feed the chicks after hatching. The young usually leave the nest at around eight weeks of age.
This species is still fairly common in most of its range; however its numbers have declined locally due to habitat destruction and trapping for the pet trade.
In some areas Mealy Amazons are hunted as food. The Mealy Amazon sometimes feeds on agricultural crops (particularly corn) and are considered a crop pest by farmers. The Mealy Amazon is commonly bred in captivity.
Diet / Feeding:
Their natural diet consists of fruits (including berries), seeds, nuts, blossoms and leaf buds. The Mealy Amazon sometimes feeds on human crops (especially corn) and may be considered a crop pest.
Captive Mealy Parrots are amongst the gentlest and calmest of all amazon parrots.
All amazons can be aggressive but the Mealy Amazons are considered the gentle giants of the Amazon parrots and is not a naturally aggressive species. They are described as the gentlest and calmest of all amazon parrots. They generally have a docile temperament and tend to get along well with other birds.
The noise level and talking abilities vary greatly amongst this species. There are some quiet birds amongst them — but others can get very noisy. In fact, their voices can carry over a mile. Mealies enjoy repeating a phrase over and over; each time using a different inflection.
Amazon ownership generally presents multiple challenges, such as excessive chewing – especially at certain stages in their life. They do discover their beaks as method of “disciplining us” once they are out of the “baby stage” and they can generally be somewhat naughty, and it really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
Aggressive behavior is especially common in “hormonal” amazons. Undisciplined amazons will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires.
They regard anything in your home as a “toy” that can be explored and chewed on; destroying items that you may hold dear or are simply valuable.
Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation.
Other Relevant Web Resources
- Amazon Species … Photos of the Different Amazon Parrot Species for Identification
- Common Health Problems / Diseases of the Amazon Parrots
- Amazon Nutrition / Diet for Optimal Health
- Amazon Parrots as Pets
- Amazon Parrot Incubation Data
In the wild, the diet of Mealy Amazons consists mostly of fruits, seeds, berries, nuts, blossoms and leaf buds To learn more about the diet of the captive Amazon Parrot, please visit this webpage.
Species: Scientific: Amazona farinosa farinosa … English: Mealy Amazon … Dutch: Grote Amazone, Geschimmelde Amazone … German: Mülleramazone … French: Amazone meunier
Sub-Species / Races Including Nominate: guatemalae, virenticeps, inornata, chapmani, farinosa … CITES II – Endangered Species
Description: Similar to the Mealy Parrot (A.f. inornata) described and featured, but larger. Taxonomists often question the validity of this subspecies, considering them to be unusually large.
Distribution: South-eastern Colombia, Ecuador, Northern Peru, North-eastern Bolivia
Species: Scientific: Amazona farinosa chapmani … English: Chapman’s Mealy Amazon … Dutch: Chapmans Geschimmelde Amazone … German: Chapmans Mülleramazone … French: Amazone de Chapman – CITES II – Endangered Species
Description: Average length: 38 cm or 15.2 inches. They have a yellow carpel edge. The overall feathering tends to be more yellowish.
Distribution: Westernmost Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua
Species: Scientific: Amazona farinosa virenticeps … English: Costa-Rica Mealy Amazon, Green-headed Amazon … Dutch: Costa Rica Amazone, Groenkopamazone … German: Salvadoris Mülleramazone … French: Amazone virenticeps – CITES II – Endangered Species
Description: Plain-colored Mealy Amazons average 15.2 inches or 38 cm in length (including tail). They have few (if any) yellow feathers on head and the carpel edge is dull yellow. They tend to be larger and duller than the nominate Mealy Parrot (A. f. farinosa) – described and featured above. They are often referred to as the “plain colored amazon.”
Distribution: Veraguas, Panama, Venezuela, Columbia, Andes, North-Western Ecuador
Species: Scientific: Amazona farinosa inornata … English: Plain-colored or Plain-colored Mealy Amazon … Dutch: Groengeschimmelde Amazone … German: Westlicher Mülleramazone … French: Amazone meunier vertes –
CITES II – Endangered Species
Blue-crowned Mealy Amazon Parrot or Guatemalan Mealy Amazon
The Blue-crowned Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa guatemalae) is endemic to Mexico, from southern Veracruz and Oaxaca along Caribbean slopes south to Honduras.
Its habit consists of rain forest, montane forest to 1,500 m (5,000 ft); partially cleared areas with scattered trees and mangroves; prefering forest edges.
They are usually quiet but can be loud at dusk and dawn.
They are generally common, although not as numerous as other Amazon species.
Their natural diet consists of fruits (particularly figs), berries, nuts, flowers and buds foraged in tops of trees; probable daily intake of mineral soil.
They average 15.2 ins (38 cm) in length, from beak to tail tip. Their wing length averages from 8.5 to 9.5 ins (221 – 248 mm).
The general plumage green, but the sides of head and crown are blue. As with other members of Genus Amazona, individuals within a species can vary greatly.
David Woodbury, from the UK (1999), described the Blue-crowned Amazon as follows: “[W]e have had three superb male guatemalae, all of which had brilliant blue cro
wns (a colour similar to that in aestiva); one had a black upper beak and ivory-colored lower beak, the other two have black beaks. One had virtually no nape (back of the neck) patch and none of the typical “mealy” effect on the back, yet another looked like he had been sprinkled with flour. We have found that the body color of guatemalae tends to be a more vivid green than virenticeps, which can be a yellow-green.
Vocally both guatemalae and virenticeps are distinct from other Mealys although any Amazon in a mixed collection may mimic other sounds. “
The Mealy Amazon as Pets or in Aviculture:
Mealy Amazons have a very docile temperament and usually get along well with other birds. They are considered the gentle giants of the Amazon parrots.
The noise level and talking abilities vary greatly amongst this species. There are some quiet birds amongst them — but others can get REALLY noisy; indeed, their voices can carry over a mile.
Mealies enjoy repeating a phrase over and over and each time using a different inflection.
Their diet should consist of a quality seed mix of safflower, wheat, oats, hemp seeds*, dried rowan-berries, buckwheat and mungo beans; sprouted sunflower seed; some pinenuts; various fruit and vegetables (particularly half-ripened maize); rose-hips; greenfood; regular mineral supplements. (*Hemp Seeds are often referred to as “super-seeds” as they offer a complete amino acid profile, have an ideal balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and provide an impressive amount of trace minerals – they also have the highest concentration of protein in the plant kingdom.)
They require roomy cages, as they are very active, and they should be provided plenty of out-of-cage time in addition to mental stimulation.
The Foraging page will be helpful in providing an adequate set up for your amazon.
Daniel Neil Sheldon describes his experience with his Blue-crowend Mealy as follows:
I have extremely rare Blue-Crowned Mealy named Malenghky, which is Russian for small simply because he is so big! I have an A’Frame Home on ten (10) acres of land. So I have lots of twigs/branches for parrots to chew on!
I give (him) lots of attention and have (a) large cage with toys for him. I’ve owned lots of parrots, but the Blue-Crowned Mealy is the best! They are the “Gentle Giant of The Amazon!” Thanks for listening or reading, Dan Sheldon
Ideally they should be provided with a large outside flight of 12 x 4.5 x 6 ft (4 x 1.5 x 2 m) dimensions with adjoining shelter (4.5 x 3 x 6 ft – 1.5 x 1 x 2 m). As they are heavy chewers, metal construction is recommended. They should not be exposed to temperatures below .41°F (5°C)
When Mealy Parrots reach sexual maturity they usually form monogamous relationships with a single partner. Courtship usually begins in early spring, starting in December through June in Australia and commencing in April in the United States.
These parrots are known to be aggressive and noisy during breeding. During this period some males may be surprisingly nervous of their caretaker .
The young fledge when they are about 60 to 65 days old It is recommended to NOT separate the young from the adults before they are 20 weeks.
At three-day intervals, the hen will usually lay 2 to 3 eggs, occasionally 4. She incubates them for 24 to 25 days, occasionally up to 28 days. The male will regurgitate the food for the female to eat. The young usually leave the nest at around eight weeks of age.