Pionus Menstruus
English: Blue-headed Parrot 
Latin: Pionus Menstruus 
Dutch: Zwartoor Pionus 
French: Pionus à tête bleue 
German: Schwarzohrpapagei
wild variation  
ringsize: 8 mm 
length: 28 cm 
The nominate species has the most extensive area of distribution i.e. from the Andes mountain range throughout the entire northern part of South America including northern Brazil.
The Rubrigularis subspecies’ distribution is separated by the Andes mountain range and is mainly found in western Ecuador, Colombia and Central America.
The Reichenowi subspecies lives completely isolated along the east coast of Brazil.


When leafing through specialist literature in search of the first breeding results of Pionus species the name Stoodley pops up several times.  The Stoodley’s from England used to be the most dominant Pionus breeders and wrote their experiences with these birds down in books (which unfortunately aren’t available anymore).
A certain Frenchman, Mr. Maillard (1890), was the first to breed them successfully.  Afterwards a lot of successful breeding was obtained by bird parks and private breeders.
These Black-eared or Blue-headed Pionus, as they are commonly referred to, over the years have become the most popular imported parrots along with the Maximilians; sometimes they were imported in huge numbers.  Unfortunately, these birds are rarely bred in captivity.  After 4 years, in 1996 I finally succeeded in breeding this species.  The female laid four eggs, which were all hatched.  After 6 months, I had four sexed young females on the perch.  Unlike the adults, the chicks do not have a blue-coloured head; their plumage is almost entirely green and many chicks have red feathers above their bill which will disappear after a couple of months.  When their first moulting period starts the blue head feathers will gradually appear.  The prominent pink throat spot is very conspicuous.  Some people claim that you can sex the chicks by their throat spot, but endoscopical sexing has proved that this method is not very reliant.  Pionus parrots are very prone to stress and therefore a number of breeders and vets decide to sex these birds by means of DNA testing. 
After a thorough inspection of the nest box, where the female stays during a few weeks, she lays 4 to 5 eggs, which will hatch after about 27 to 30 days. After a nesting period of 60 to 65 days, the chicks fledge their nest.  During the first couple of days the chicks fly very clumsily and the smallest sudden disruption can cause them to fly against the wire netting of the aviary.
A very conspicuous behaviour of Pionus species is the fact that they turn their back to the attendant when they notice he wants to observe or photograph them.  In America, hand-raised Blue-headed Pionus are also kept as indoor pets.
These ‘pet-birds’ are also very common in England.  In my view, a Pionus is not the most suitable roommate.  Although hand-tame birds are much less sensitive to stress and their calm behaviour might be considered an advantage, when you are prepared to take the sudden loud screeches with it.

See Diet

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