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Standing 11 inches (about 28 cm) tall, the blue-headed parrot is easy to recognize with its bright blue head and neck. Native to Central and South America, the parrot weighs 8 to 12 oz (about 182 to 252 g) and has a life span of 25 to 60 years. Although they are popular as pets, the blue-head parrot is not as loquacious as other species of parrots.
Scientifically known as Pionus menstruus, the blue-headed parrot contains green feathers on the majority of its body with red plumage on its neck and under its tail. Until they reach the age of one, the parrots have very few blue feathers and are mostly green in color. The only blue young parrots have are on their foreheads. By the age of three, the birds reach their full color maturation.
The birds are common in the humid regions in Colombia, Eastern Ecuador, Eastern Peru, South and Central Brazil and Northern Bolivia, as well as Trinidad. The blue-headed parrot resides in hollow limbs and tree cavities at a height of 2,000 feet (about 600 m) within forests. Some parrots have been known to live as high as 5,000 feet (about 1,500 m) in open areas. The parrots often travel together in flocks up to 400 during breeding season to feeding sites, such as orchards and cornfields. The diet of the blue-headed parrot consists of seeds, berries, corn, and bananas.
In the springtime, usually around May, the blue-headed parrots start to breed. A female will lay up to three to five white eggs. Eggs take less than a month to incubate. After nine weeks, the young are capable of flying. Chicks will depart the nest about two months after being born.
The blue-headed parrot has some unique traits. When the bird gets scared or aroused, it lets out a loud, panting sound, similar to a person with asthma. When the danger is removed, the gasping noise stops. In addition, the parrot possesses a distinctive fruit odor.
As pets, the blue-headed parrots are affectionate creatures and very friendly around people. The birds will rarely bite. The species is generally obedient and can be taught some simple tricks. Male parrots often bond with one person and will guard his owner against apparent dangers. The birds are also capable of a limited vocabulary of up to 20 words.