Bronze-winged Pionus Parrots (Pionus chalcopteru) are unusually colored parrots native to South American, specifically the Andes of Colombia (except Nariño), Ecuador, Peru, and furthest northwest Venezuela.
Longevity: "You & Your Pet Bird" by David Alderton states that Pionus live an average of 25 years. Pionus can live to be over 40 and often they live only 3 or 10 years due to accidents and poor nutrition.
Bronze Wings are small parrots measuring around 11 to 11.6 inches (~ 29 cm) in length. They are almost purple in coloration, and their true beauty is appreciated in natural sunlight as seen in the picture to the right. They have a pronounced bronze patch on the wings. The head and nape (back of the neck) is bronze-brown. The feathers are broadly edged dark violet-grey. The chin is white. The throat is dull pink. The back, rump and shoulder feathers are dark bronze-green with blue edging. The breast and abdomen are dark green broadly edged with dark violet-blue. The under tail-coverts are red. The wing-coverts are bronze-brown. The primary wing feathers and primaries (= longest wing feathers) are purple-blue. The tail is dark blue and the outer feathers have a red base. The eye rings are white to pinkish in coloration. The irides (= plural of iris) are brown and the feet flesh-colored. The bill is horn colored.
Immature birds have a greenish head and back. Their breast and abdomen feathers have a dark green edging.
Personality / Care:
Bronze Wings are gentle in nature and make loving, devoted companions. They are appreciated for their sweet and fun disposition, easy-going personality and intelligence. These qualities make this parrot a good choice for first-time parrot owners and a wonderful family pet. It is also an excellent choice for apartment dwellers, due to their calm personality and easy maintenance. Owners describe them as inquisitive and sociable parrots that are easily tamed. They are less apt to bite than other parrot species. With a little bit of training, some may learn to mimic (although not all learn to talk!). They enjoy frequent baths as this helps to keep their plumage in good condition. A medium-sized parrot cage is acceptable for Bronze Wings - but larger is always better, as they are energetic parrots. Toys, to keep them entertained, are always a must. They seem to be particularly fond of swings.
The Pionus parrots are devoted to their owners and thrive on attention - however, some of them, particularly males, may bond with one person and aggressively protect that person from perceived dangers, including other family members. They are active by nature and may become overweight if closely confined. Even though these parrots are less noisy birds than other parrots, they do make light, high-pitched squeaking calls that might annoy those who are sensitive to noise.
Caring for Your Pionus:
The Bronze-winged Pionus is a very active parrot and needs the largest space that your home can accommodate -- ideally, this parrot should be able to fly from perch to perch, especially so if the pionus is kept in the cage most of the day. This being said, however roomy the cage, every bird should be allowed to be out of the cage for a minimum of three hours each day. Many birds can spend a good deal of their time on a play pen or parrot perch. As they are not strong chewers, durable cage construction is not as critical as it would be for the largest species of parrots. They are technically inclined and learn to open locks pretty quickly and locks or escape-proof latches may be recommended.
When setting up your pionus, please visit this website: How to Keep Your Pet Parrot Happy and Healthy for ideas and recommendations.
Training and Behavioral Guidance:
Once they have learned a behavior such as stepping up they are very obedient and will remain steady in their training.
- Web Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit this website for valuable tips on parrot behavior and training.
- If you are, as I am, a visual learner and prefer step-by-step instructions to train your pet, I recommend:
The Pionus parrot should be provided a high-quality seed mix, a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, such as berries and apples. Some breeders suggest Pretty Bird High Protein or Daily Select as staple diets for Pionus parrots; they will tend to waste less food if fed small-sized pellets* such as Pretty Bird Daily Select Small. I personally prefer unprocessed food as I am concerned about chemicals / additives and also because synthetic supplements usually added to formulated diets are never as good as the nutrients found in natural food. Some supplementation may still be necessary if a variety of nutrient-rich food is not accepted by a bird or not provided by the keeper. One of the most nutrient-dense food items that you can feed your birds and are usually eagerly accepted by birds (even picky ones!) are sprouted seeds. Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by "seed addicts" than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process - thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.
- Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.
- Soaked and germinated "oil" seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while "starch" seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.
- It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.
*Please note: When feeding pellets to your pet, please be aware of the fact that overly feeding citrus fruits (including oranges) or vitamin-C-rich foods to your birds can lead to "Iron Overload Disease" as vitamin C increases the amount of iron absorbed from foods and supplements.
As is the case with most parrot species, their diet should include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add nutrition and psychological enrichment. Their food intake should be monitored as overfeeding can lead to selective feeding and wasteful throwing of food. Pionus parrots should be fed little to no sunflower or safflower seeds. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet. However, if the base diet is seed-based, a good avian supplement should be given to prevent deficiency diseases. Such supplements should be added to soft food items rather than adding them to the water, as this dilutes the vitamins and water-soluble vitamins break down rapidly. Also, water containing sweetened vitamins is a good growth medium for bacteria. On the other hand, supplements sprinkled over seeds are usually lost when the bird shells the seeds.
- Click here for more information on bird nutrition
The Pionus is moderately difficult to breed in captivity and, during the breeding season, they can get noisy. If you have near-by neighbors who are sensitive to noise this should be a consideration when deciding to breed this species.
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.
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.
For cage construction, breeders suggested the following dimensions: 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. Place the nest box high up in a dark, secluded area of the aviary.
The hen typically lays 3 to 5 eggs, which she 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 chalcopterus chalcopterus ... English: Bronze-winged Pionus ... Dutch: Bronsvleugelpapegaai ... German: Glanzflügelpapagei ... French: Perroquet aux ailes brune ... CITES II - Endangered Species
Description: As chalcopterus, but with more bluish edging to breast and abdomen; smaller. ... Length: 27 cm (10.5 ins)(wing 180 - 190 mm or 7.1 - 7.5 ins)
Distribution: North-western Peru, western Ecuador, south-western Colombia
Species: Scientific: Pionus chalcopterus cyanescens ... English: Lesser Bronze-winged Parrot ... Dutch: Kleine Bronsvleugelpapegaai ... German: Ekuador Glanzflügelpapagei ... French: Perroquet aux ailes brune Meyer de Schauensee ... CITES II - Endangered Species
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