Pionus menstruus

by Sally Blanchard

» Range includes Costa Rica, Panama and much of northern South America
» Two sub-species: Paler blue-headed Pionus P. m. rubrigularis
   Reichenow's Blue-headed Pionus P. m. redhenowi

» About 11" in length and 250 grams in weight
» Fairly common in its range and wild populations are considered stable
» Common as a Pionus companion

The Blue-head is probably the best known Pionus and considered to be one of the best companions in the family. The first Blue-headed Pionus I met was actually in Costa Rica. I met him at the Tropical research station at La Selva. Though this area was not within his natural range, the possibility was that someone had gotten him as a baby, brought him to the area and he had escaped and flown into the research station. He was a really friendly little fellow who spoke a few words in Spanish. The person who ended up taking care of him named him Gallospintos (beans and rice) after the main dish served to both the eco-tourists at the station and the bird. He was still pretty ratty looking, so I was surprised at how beautiful they are when I saw a well-fed domestically-raised baby. The almost weaned babies I met at breeder Rita Shimniok’s house were absolutely fearless explorers of the unknown who loved handling from anyone. More recently I really enjoyed playing with a few baby Blue-heads that were raised with caiques. That brought a lot of their personality out!

They are considered to be quiet birds but if they are underfed or weaned too soon, they can develop a repetitive machine gun call that can continue to be an irritating sound as they mature and become adults. I have been been told by several quality Pionus breeders that they take a bit longer to wean properly for their size.

Some times Pionus remind me of the one of the 7 Seven Dwarfs and act a bit like a curmudgen from time to time. Perhaps it brings a genuine Snow White to bring out their delightful playful personality!




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