Lights. Camera. Action! Yellow-headed parrots, also called yellow-headed Amazons, may be the drama divas of the bird world. Definitely not timid or shy, these parrots are very inquisitive and social. In captivity, they strongly desire the attention of their owners, and will perform all sorts of amusing antics to gain and keep it. Such things as fanning out their tails; quick, wild head movements, including sometimes turning their head upside down; and rapid in-out dilations of their pupils.
This species has been kept as pets for centuries not only for their attractiveness, but because they are among the parrots that “talk” best.
However, their talents and beauty also may have contributed to their rapid population decline, as they are frequent victims of illegal pet trade.
Their capture in the wild is doubly heinous, as poachers often destroy valuable habitat when getting at the birds.
However, there is legal trade of the birds and, thankfully, today captive breeding is meeting more of the market demand.
However, it is still important to think carefully when committing to this kind of pet. Parrots can become deeply bonded with specific individuals.
They also can live a very long time, so they often outlive their owners.
In nature, parrots live high in the treetops and their loud calls are designed to project widely; they are loudest at sunrise and sunset. These vocalizations, the very trait that initially endears parrots to humans, can become loud and annoying to pet owners who have not thoroughly thought through choosing a parrot as a pet. So, as with considering any pet, compatibility and commitment factors should be aligned with an owner’s ability to provide a lasting home.
Bandit is a 30-year-old yellow-headed parrot who has been with the Pueblo Zoo for 23 years.
Recently, she has become a Pueblo Zoo education ambassador. Becoming an ambassador does not happen automatically.
There is some hard work and training involved.
Trainers work with her regularly to make sure she feels comfortable around people and will maintain control of herself.
The trainers also work on fun stuff. Bandit has quite the vocabulary and says things like “I love you”; “Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Meow!”; and she is working on saying “Happy Birthday” on command. Perhaps readers will have the chance to meet Bandit soon in a classroom, at an event or during a birthday party.