by Sally Blanchard
»13-14” (33-37 cm)
»Two subspecies with some difference in appearance (A.a.aestiva (less common in captivity), A.a.xanthopteryx has yellow at the bend of the wing) Blue on head varies with individuals.
»Brazil, Paraguay, northern Argentina
»Bred commonly in captivity. Common as companions
»Wild population: still stable CITES II
This is the most commonly kept companion Amazon parrot according to the Companion Parrot Quarterly’s in-depth questionnaire. Their ancestors came from Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, and northern Argentina. Blue-fronts were also one of the most commonly imported parrots so there are still many wild-caught birds in the U.S. so there are most likely quite a few in rescue situations.
Amazons aestiva translates as the “Amazon of summer” which is appropriate because of the parrot’s vibrant blue, green and yellow colors. The Blue-front beak is dark gray to black, and their body feathers are bright green with variable black edging. Named because of the blue on their foreheads, individuals of this species exhibit a tremendous variation of yellow, turquoise, white and blue feathers on their heads. Blue-front thighs are yellow or light green. The bend of the wing is red and yellow with varying but significant yellow in the Yellow-winged xanthopterin subspecies. Their length is usually 13 to 15 inches, although it is not unusual to find somewhat smaller and larger Blue-fronts.
Often, there is considerable variance in the coloration, size, and personality of Amazona aestiva individuals. So much so that when they were imported into Europe in the early 1800s, people considered many of the variations to be different species. I believe that there are some clear characteristics that separate the nominate species of Amazona aestiva aestiva from the subspecies Amazona aestiva xanthopteryx, which is often referred to as the Yellow-winged Amazon but it is still a Blue-front.
It appears that the Amazona aestiva aestiva was never imported in great numbers and seems to quite rare in the U.S. but I do see them occasionally in Canada. They are somewhat smaller, shorter and stockier than the Yellow-winged Blue-front and lack the amount of yellow on the wing. The few wild-caught individuals I tamed years ago were generally mild-mannered little guys and not nearly as excitable as the xanthopteryx. For a year or so, I lived with a true Blue-front (aestiva aestiva). She came to me somewhat shy and phobic. I worked with her for that time and was able to turn her into a friendly little parrot who enjoyed gentle handling. She remained somewhat insecure but was fine if her environment was consistent and nurturing. I found a good home for her with a woman and her daughter.
The Blue-front that most of us are familiar with is sometimes referred to as the Yellow-winged Amazon ... subspecies xanthopteryx (Xantho translates as yellow and opteryx as wing)
Blue-fronts can be incredibly sweet babies. Most are very acrobatic and usually exceptionally playful. One of my all-time favorite parrots is Bosco who belonged to an employee. He was a delight and learned almost anything I taught him from behaviors to songs. I still miss interacting with him. With proper guidance and understanding of their moods and excitable energy, Blue-fronts can stay gentle as they mature. Many of them are good talkers, singers, and whistlers. They can remain very loyal to the people in their human flock.
Blue-fronts can be one of the more excitable Amazons but learning to read their body language will give a caregiver warning before the bird goes into overload. Loyalty can translate into one-person protection, territoriality, and aggression. This is most problematic if the Amazon parrot has formed a strong mate bond with one person. The best way to prevent this is for everyone in the household to handle the bird and develop his or her own relationship with the bird. The trade-off for talking ability can be a higher noise level but screaming can be managed by redirecting their bird into more positive learned behaviors. People also need to understand that a certain amount of screaming is perfectly acceptable either as a flock communication or because Amazon is happy to be alive! Some of this screaming can be redirected into singing, talking or whistling with behavioral guidance.