English: Blue-headed Parrot
Latin: Pionus Menstruus
Dutch: Zwartoor Pionus
French: Pionus à tête bleue
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.
Pionus Menstruus Menstruus
Pionus Menstruus Rubrigularis: duller blue to the head and
pinkish throat spot
Pionus Menstruus Reichenowi: darker blue coloration ranging
up to the abdomen, no throat spot
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.