The Blue-headed Pionus, Pionus menstruus, is a type of large Amazonian parrot that is native to tropical lands in Central and Southern America. Their natural habitat is generally a humid area with a heavy population of trees in close proximity to water. Popular countries that it inhabits include Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Trinidad and Venezuela.
This bird has been domesticated and is very popular as a pet. Aside from its beautiful appearance, the Blue-headed Pionus has a gentle and quiet temperament. They do make noise, but do not typically have more than a few words in their vocabulary. When this breed is vocal, it tends to come in the form of squeaking and squawking. They emit this noise to convey happiness, anger and often just for the purpose of being heard.
The Blue-headed Pionus is medium in size. It is approximately 25-30 cm long and 235-250 g in weight. The average wingspan of this breed is 18cm. Male and female birds of this breed are virtually impossible to distinguish based on appearance alone. Its colours are remarkably vibrant and, as its name suggests, its entire head is blue while the rest of its body is green. Shades of yellow and red may be seen on the wings and chest of adult birds, while colouring is visibly duller on young parrots. Blue is generally not seen on the Blue-headed Pionus until it reaches maturity at approximately two years of age.
The Blue-headed Pionus is relatively easy to train in comparison to other birds. This breed is intelligent and eager, qualities that are key to training and learning tricks. It also recognises and is affectionate with its owner or family. It may be shy at first, but is usually sociable in nature. Its cage should have plenty of room for it to roam and play, including toys to chew on and interact with, which will prevent boredom and destructive chewing. Though the Blue-headed Pionus may be seen in large flocks in the wild, it may behave aggressively to other caged birds. It is usually tolerant of sharing a cage with its mate, which testifies to the strong breeding instinct that is present.
During mating season it lives in an opening of a tree trunk, often a palm tree, where it is generally protected from the elements. When the male and female parrots breed, the female lays two to five white eggs that hatch nearly four weeks later. At birth, the hatchlings are nearly bald, not developing much in the way of feathers until they are several weeks old. Blue-headed Pionus chicks depend upon their parents for care, nourishment and protection until they fledge at around ten weeks of age.
Their diet generally consists of seeds, fruits and berries when in the wild. As a domestic animal, the Blue-headed Pionus eats largely the same items, though its diet may include more vegetables.
A clean living cage or aviary, along with a balanced diet and fresh water will promote a healthy lifestyle for this breed. Avian veterinary care should be sought if the Blue-headed Pionus displays symptoms of illness. These may include decreased appetite, ruffled plumage and changes in digestive habits. A healthy Blue-headed Pionus can live up to 20-35 years in captivity.