White-headed Pionus or Speckle-faced Parrot

The White-headed Pionus (Pionus seniloides) may be classified as a subspecies of the Plum-crowned Parrot (Pionus tumultuosus seniloides) but this is controversial and it is sometimes classified as the separate species, Pionus seniloides.

Distribution / Range:

The White-headed Pionus is endemic to Tachira in temperate zone, western Venezuela in southwesterly direction across Colombian Andes and western Ecuador to northwest Peru.

They prefer forest areas in temperate zones and adjoining cultivated areas with trees between 6,300 ft (1,900 m) and 10,000 ft (3,000 m. At times they go down as far as 4,100 ft (1,250 m).

They are fairly numerous in localities, although the population has declined because of loss of habitat (deforestation).

Speckle-faced Parrot (Pionus tumultuosus)

Information on the Pionus, Pet Qualities and CarePhoto GalleryCommon Diseases and Disorders


The White-headed Parrot averages 12 inches (30 cm) in length. Its plumage is mostly green. The forehead and crown are whitish-grey with salmon-colored edging. The back of the head, nape and the side of the neck are greyish-blue with a white base and violet-black edging. Theear-coverts are dark grey with whitish-pink center.

The cheeks and chin are whitish with a broad brownish-grey edging. There is a pink band across the throat merging with the brownish grey-blue of the breast. The abdomen is greyish brown-green with each feather edged rust color. The under tail-coverts are red.

The primary wing feathers and wings are green. The under wing-coverts and underside of flight-feathers are dull green. The middle tail-feathers are green.

The outer tail-feathers have dull reddish-blue tips and a red base. The bill is pale horn-colored. The eye rings are grey and the irises brown. Their feet are grey.

Young birds have a green edging to their head feathers. The chin, breast and abdomen are green. The red under tail-coverts are edged with green. They have dark irises.

Pionus Parrots as Pets

Pionus Parrots: Diet / Nutrition



Breeding has seldom been achieved. In the U.S. breeding begins in spring. This is an energetic bird that is considered medium-noisy. They are particularly vocal in morning. They are initially shy and flighty; when alarmed produces typical panting with fear. They are slow to become trusting.

Newly imported parrots tend to be susceptible to diseases resulting in frequent mortalities. They are especially prone to serious aspergillosis (fungal( infections. However, once they are properly acclimatized, they are usually pretty hardy. Initially they should not be exposed to temperatures below 70°F (22°C). Once they have adjusted to the local climate conditions, they may be able to endure temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C).

They are also often quite intolerant of other birds. Therefore, it is best to keep pairs in their own flights. To protect birds in adjoining cages, it is recommended to install double wiring. These parrots are not hard chewer.

The Pionus is of breeding age when they are about 3 to 5 years old. In North America, the breeding season stretches from February or March to June or July.

A shallow pan of cool water should always be available for bathing and drinking. These parrots generally enjoy bathing and there are multiple reasons both for their health and well-being to provide them with daily bathing opportunities. Adding a few drops of GSE or hydrogen peroxide in its bathing water will help in preventing infections. As an additional benefit, GSE also has good anti-parasitic properties

  • Parrot Grooming for information on the benefits of bathing (SAFELY) and recommendations.

One problem that breeders face is that the male pionus in breeding condition can get aggressive towards their mates. One option to protect the female is to clip the male’s wings prior to the breeding season to give the female an advantage when trying to escape the aggressive male.

With respect to the cage, the following dimensions are recommended: 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall by 6 to 8 feet long. Suspended cages facilitate sanitation as droppings and discarded food fall through the wire cage floor. Grandfather-style nest boxes work best. A size that works well is 10″ wide x 10″ deep x 18-24″ high. Ideally, the nest box should be placed high up in a dark, secluded area of the aviary.

The average clutch consists of 3 to 5 eggs, which the female incubates for 24 to 26 days. The chicks usually fledge when they are 8 to 12 weeks old. Pionus chicks are challenging to handraise and it is best to allow the parents to take care of the chicks for at least the first week. Various green foods and mealworms are appreciated by the parents for feeding the chicks. Corn cob is a favorite weaning food.

If you decide to pull the chicks at this time, Exact or Pretty Bird Handfeeding formulas are suitable for handfeeding the young.


Species: Scientific: Pionus seniloides … English: White-headed Parrot … German: Greisenkopfpapagei

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