Red-billed Pionus ParrotsAre you looking for a breeder? Click here for a listing
The Red-billed Pionus Parrot aka Sordid Parrot (Pionus sordidus sordidus) is endemic to Northern South America, specifically Venezuela in Lara and Falcón Provinces.
- Columbian Sordid Parrot (Pionus sordidus saturatus)
- Range: Santa Marta Mountains in northern Columbia.
- Coral-billed Pionus aka Coral-billed Parrot aka Red-billed Pionus (Pionus sordidus corallinus)
- Range: Eastern Andes in Colombia, eastern Ecuador, Peru, northern Bolivia
- Ecuadorian Sordid Parrots (Pionus sordidus mindoensis)
- Range: Mountains of western Ecuador
- Paler Red-billed Parrot: (Pionus sordidus antelius)
- Range: Mountains of north-eastern Venezuela
- Perijá Red-billed Parrot: (Pionus sordidus ponsi)
- Range: Sierra de Perijá, mountain chain forming border between northwest Venezuela and northern Columbia.
The Red-billed Parrot averages 11 inches (28 cm) in length. The plumage is generally olive-green. The head is also olive-green except the feathers to the crown and back of the head are broadly edged with dark-blue. The cheeks are olive with blue tips. There is a blue band across the throat and upper breast. The breast and abdomen are dull olive, each feather with duller edging tinged bluish-pink. The under tail-coverts are red. The back is dull olive-green, each feather with olive-brown markings. The middle tail-feathers are green and the outers are blue with red at the base. They have red bills with a paler base. Their eye rings are grey and their irises dark brown. They have grey feet.
Young birds have a pale green head, and yellowish-green under tail-coverts with a few red feathers.
Contributing author: CTE Partridge
Pionus parrots are not known to be cuddly birds and can be described as reserved. Once they are bonded, however, they like to be preened (their heads and necks scratched). They are not particularly playful, and do not enjoy being wrestled with or flipped on their backs, but they do provide noninvasive companionship and are fascinating companion animals. When excited or frightened, birds of this genus may make a characteristic wheezing or snorting sound that is sometimes mistaken for a sign of distress. Others freeze when scared. They also have a musky or sweet odor that some people find unpleasant, but others enjoy.
They are not the best talkers -- in fact some pionuses may never learn to talk. The clarity of Pionus "speech" ranges from rather clear to words only a mother could understand. This varies greatly with individuals. Most Pionus do love to learn new and interesting sounds.
The Pionus as Pet
Pionus parrots are regarded as excellent pets, although some species are very rare in captivity. Most commonly kept species are the Blue-headed, Maximillian (Scaly-headed) and White-Capped. Others, such as the Dusky and the Bronze-winged have become more common due to captive breeding.
Pionus parrots are known for their quiet (compared to many other parrots) and reserved natures. Unlike some other companion parrots, aviculturists have noted that they are not particularly energetic, and do not generally enjoy hands-on play (for example, being flipped on their backs), but they do provide companionship and are described as gentle and charming pets.
When excited or frightened, birds of this genus emit a characteristic wheezing or snorting sound that is sometimes mistaken for a sign of distress, or a symptom of disease. They also give off a musky or sweet odor that some caretakers find unpleasant, but others enjoy.
Pionus parrots are susceptible to obesity, vitamin A deficiency, and aspergillosis in captivity.
Vitamin A promotes appetite, digestion, and also increases resistance to infection and to some parasites
Please refer to "Bird Nutrition" for food items rich in Vitamin A.
Biting: The pionus parrots are not known to be biters, but they can break your skin if they are scared or startled; or simply don't want to be handled for some reason (maybe not bonded). The experienced parrot owner will be able to read their parrot's body language to know when he or she does not want to be handled. This all being said, their bites are generally not nearly as fierce as the bites of other birds and, therefore, they do make a good choice for anyone who is intiimidated by parrot beaks.
Attention: The Pionus demand less time than the larger parrots. They can be left alone during the daytime as long as they get a little attention in the morning. In the evening full attention should be given to them, for at least one to two hours, but preferably more. Like other parrots, the Pionus should be allowed to get out of its cage and enjoy out-of-cage activities. If your parrot spends a lot of time confined, please provide a large cage, lots of toys and environmental enhancements, such as leaving the TV or radio on for entertainment.
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.
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 a pelleted diet*, such as 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. *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.
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.
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.
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 eggs, which she incubates for 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 sordidus sordidus ... English: Red-billed Parrot, Sordid-, Coral-billed Parrot ... Dutch: Roodsnavelpapegaai, Olijfbruine Papegaai ... German: Dunenkopfpapagei ... French: Perroquet sordide ... CITES II - Endangered Species
Description: They average 11 inches (28 cm) in length. This parrot looks similar to the nominate form described and featured above, but is generally darker green; back feathers without olive-brown markings; breast and abdomen virtually uniformly green, without bluish-pink edging.
Distribution: Santa Marta Mountains in northern Columbia.
Species: Scientific: Pionus sordidus saturatus ... English: Columbian Sordid Parrot ... Dutch: Sierra Nevada Roodsnavelpapegaai ... German: Santa-Marta Korallenschnabelpapagei ... French: Perroquet sordide Magadalena ... CITES II - Endangered Species
Description: Looks similar to the nominate form described and featured above, but general plumage without pale edging; head feathers edged with blue; back feathers with grey tinge and dirty blue tips; band to breast violet-blue; upper wing-coverts with dark edging; bigger. ... Length: 30 cm (12 ins), wing length 187 - 206 mm (7.5 - 8 ins)
Distribution: Eastern Andes in Colombia, eastern Ecuador, Peru, northern Bolivia
Species: Scientific: Pionus sordidus corallinus ... English: Coral-billed Parrot, Red-billed Parrot ... Dutch: Koraalsnavelpapegaai ... German: Korallenschnabelpapagei ... French: Perroquet à bec rouge ... CITES II - Endangered Species
Description: Head dull slate-blue; lores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird's head) are red; ear-coverts black, edged around with whitish feathers; chin feathers edged with dull pink; back and wings dark brown, each feather with pale edging; breast and abdomen brown with dull pink or bluish edging; under wing-coverts violet-blue; tail dark blue, outer feathers with red base; bill blackish, horn-colured on sides; skin to periophthalmic ring grey; iris brown; feet grey. Immatures with greenish-blue head; iris dark. ... Length: 10 in (26 cm)
Distribution: Mountains of western Ecuador
Species: Scientific: Pionus sordidus mindoensis ... English: Ecuadorian Sordid Parrot ... Dutch: Ecuadoriaanse Roodsnavelpapegaai ... German: Ekuador Korallenschnabelpapagei ... French: Perroquet sordide Chapman ... CITES II - Endangered Species
Description: Looks similar to the nominate form described and featured above, but with much paler plumage; breast without bluish-pink tinge; abdomen olive-yellow, all feathers with pale yellowish edging; smaller ... Length: 10 in (26 cm).
Distribution: Mountains of north-eastern Venezuela Paler Red-billed Parrot
Species: Scientific: Pionus sordidus antelius ... English: Paler Red-billed Parrot ... Dutch: Bleke Roodsnavelpapegaai ... German: Blasser Dunenkopfpapagei ... French: Perroquet sordide Anzoategui ... CITES II - Endangered Species
Description: Looks similar to the nominate form described and featured above, but generally darker green; back feathers without olive-brown markings; breast and abdomen almost totally green without bluish-pink edging; lesser wing-coverts and upper tail-coverts less yellowish-green; abdomen and flanks olive-green. ... Length: 11 in (28 cm)
Distribution: Sierra de Perijá, mountain chain forming border between northwest Venezuela and northern Columbia.
Species: Scientific: Pionus sordidus ponsi ... English: Perijá Red-billed Parrot ... Dutch: Ponsi Roodsnavelpapegaai ... German: Perijá Korallenschnabelpapagei ... French: Perroquet sordide Zulia ... CITES II - Endangered Species
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