Breeding of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon. PART II

March 25th, 2016 | by Tony Silva
Breeding of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon. PART II
Breeding
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Read also the first part of this interview:

Breeding of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon. PART I

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After my first encounter early one morning while walking with Ramon through his collection, I started searching for this species. I acquired my first Amazona barbadensis in 1984. The male was obtained first and then months later the female. Both were former pets. The male was a character. He would talk, whistle, sing and move constantly. He was a favorite. The female was an atypical barbadensis. Indeed, she reminded more of a Yellow-faced Amazon (Alipiopsitta xanthops) with her quiet, often sheepish behavior. They were opposites but proved very compatible. They never fought and always perched together.

Breeding barbadensis can be ornery. Males can prove vicious even to their mates. Today my view (shared by other breeders of this species) is that the calmer males are the ones most likely to be successful breeders. The agitated, garrulous males sometimes become so aggressive that the females eschew them, preventing successful mating. Some have even been known to injure their mates.
Within months of bringing together my pair, the hen laid. Two young were reared. At the time of breeding the male was around 23 years old and the female 12 years old. Neither had ever been with another bird, nor in a breeding situation. That example, little would I know at the time, was illustrative of the willingness of this species to breed.

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(c) Tony Silva

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I eventually sold my barbadensis but my love for the species never ended. Indeed today I have 4 pairs and a handful of youngsters, these representing both subspecies.

READ  Karl Hansal: When you start counting money in breeding then it's too bad. PART II

My return to breeding the Yellow-shouldered Amazon started in 2008, when I visited a flea market where everything from fresh fruit to clothing, shoes, plants and birds are sold. In one cage in the bird shop there were 2 young barbadensis. I immediately bought them. I later learned that their mother was reared by Joe Carte (another early American breeder) and their father in my collection. I also own a second male that I also reared—the first barbadensis that I hatched. That bird came into my possession more than 20 years after I hand-reared him. He is my favorite, bringing back fond memories of his father and behaving like him in many respects. When his mate is on eggs, he chews his tail and flight feathers from loneliness, though the cage contains every imaginable form of enrichment possible. He so adores his mate that he constantly checks on her in the nest. When she emerges to defecate, he is like a child: he cannot stop moving, talking, whistling and following her closely. I have never seen two Amazon parrots that are more compatible.

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I know when my yellow-shoulders are about to nest by changes in their calling: the hens produce a high double note call that I have never heard at any other time. From my experience, the clutch size ranges from 2 to 5 eggs, though 4 is most common. I have had them hatch as early as 23 days and as late as 27 days. Normally they nest for me in summer (starting in May), but when they precisely start depends on how cold the Florida winter was and how much rain fell during the winter (normally a dry time). During the past six years, south Florida has experienced significant cold in December and January. One year, we had frost on the lawn. The cold and rain resulted in one pair laying in late January—a period I have never had a barbadensis breed. This flexibility is an adaptation for surviving in a hard climate.

READ  Interview with David T. Longo, the successful breeder and exporter of parrots. PART I

Young Yellow-shouldered Amazons have scant, whitish primary down like other Amazons; only the Yellow-faced Amazon (Alipiopsitta xanthops) has bright yellow down and this fact, along with a unique behavior and recent DNA analysis has resulted in it being separated to a genus of its own. The secondary down is short and grayish. The young normally display less color than the adults. Sometimes the horn-colored bill has grayish hints. They wean by 12 weeks and can lay as early as 2 years, though normally 3 years is more common; I do not know of any male younger than 3 that has been able to fertilize a hen.

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A Yellow-shouldered Amazon at Palmitos Park, Gran Canaria, Canary islands, Spain. (c) Wiliam Warby. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

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I keep my young in a group, where they are given considerable enrichment items, including the seeds of every palm tree that I can obtain, the pods of Royal Poinciana, Pandanus pods, whole fruit, bananas thrown on top of their enclosure to force the birds to work to obtain the fruit, fresh branches and anything else that may keep them occupied and more importantly that allows the birds to remain close. I have found that group rearing thwarts exceptional aggression in males at a later stage in life. I have seen extreme aggression develop in my birds only in a male that years ago I kept as a pet in a cage by himself. He was a tyrant and was eschewed by every possible mate. That particular individual never bred.

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 MacawsGrey Parrots soft Incubation Handraising

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Youngsters are kept in flights until they begin to pair off and mature. At that stage they are separated and placed in cages with a nesting box at the front. The cages are separated by a solid piece of metal to prevent visual contact. This is because visual contact with another male results in the birds becoming excessively agitated and if they cannot attack the other male they vent their angst on the female. Also, with another male in sight they become distracted and not uncommonly produce clear eggs. The same pairs when visually blocked produced fertile eggs.

READ  Biology and breeding of the Red-tailed Cockatoo. PART II

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Baby Yellow-shouldered Amazons bred in Tony’s collection (c) Tony Silva

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Yellow-shouldered Amazons as they become more available—and there are many collections with large numbers of pairs that should start breeding within the next few years—will become extremely popular because of their personality. They are special in many ways and remain one of my favorite species after so many years.

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author: Tony Silva

Title photo: (c) Lubomir Tomiska

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