Veterinarians will do x-rays on parrots for a variety of reasons, not just for possible broken bones. Used in avian medicine to determine many problems including foreign body ingestion and heavy metal toxicity. They can also be used for other reasons including finding sinus problems and digestive impaction. Parrots are unlikely to hold still, so they are restrained and may be given anesthetic for the procedure. 


True yams are from Japan, have white flesh, and have little or no helpful nutrition for parrots. What we see in our supermarkets are actually sweet potatoes, an excellent source of vitamin A in a parrot’s diet. Be sure and buy the ones with the darkest orange flesh. The darker the inside is, the more beta-carotene it has. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A during the digestion process. Garnet yams (sweet potatoes) are the best choice and are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your parrot.


Parrots yawn both for physiological reasons and as a comfort behavior. Just as yawning is "infectious" for people when they see someone else yawn, it can also be one of those "Parrot see, Parrot do" behaviors. Many parrots will yawn during a good head skritch or when they are using a foot to skritch their own heads. However, continual or excessive yawning (or gaping) may be a sign of a health problem.When my grey, Bongo Marie started accepting head skritches from me, she yawned a lot. This was back in 1976, and at first it had me worried because there is such a thing as gape worms that I read about back then and it causes a bird to gape, which involves physical discomfort that causes a bird to open its beak to try to catch its breath. I drove quite a distance to see a real avian vet (there were none near where I lived at the time) and Bongo was tested for gape worms and she didn't have this problem. Gape worms are a parasitic nematode that infects the tracheas of certain birds. While they were a possibility in wild-caught ground dwelling parrots, they are exceedingly uncommon in companion parrots ... perhaps unknown in domestically-raised parrots.. Gape worms can be a problem for chickens and in aviaries raising ground-dwelling pheasants so if you have chickens, there may be more possibility of your companion parrot having gape worms. 

Also called the Jamaican Yellow-billed Amazon. One of the smaller Amazons, this gorgeous Amazon is rare in the pet trade although they are becoming more known. I bought ("rescued") one from a dirty bird shop almost 20 years ago. The owner of the store had no idea that he was so rare and I played dumb so I got him for a good price. He lived with me for a couple of years until he was healthy. He was on consignment in the store and the people who owned him were from Jamaica. Once he was healthy and tamed down, he was a delightful Amazon. Because he was so rare, I made the decision back then that he should go to a breeder. I have regretted that decision many times since. These little Amazons are very rare as companions but some are being bred in captivity now. The only reason I mention them is because in the late 1980’s I wandered into a pet shop and discovered a bedraggled little Yellow-billed. I was amazed to see one but I feigned ignorance to get the bird out of the shop. The bird was on consignment and I made an offer and took him home. The shop owner had no idea how rare he was. I had him for about a year and nursed him back to health and tamed him. Since they are so rare, I found a breeder who wanted him. He was a great little bird with an abundance of personality. Most likely since they are from Jamaica, they were never exported. My guess is that he had been smuggled in when the owners moved to the United States.


YELLOW-COLLARED MACAW (Propyrrhura (Ara) auricollis
I am highly partial toward these small macaws with a huge personality. I am amazed that they are not more popular. One of my favorite and most beloved parrot companions was my imported hen, Bojo. She was without a doubt one of the sweetest birds I have ever met. She was inquisitive, outgoing, and loved to show off her tricks that included a backward somersault in my hand. She had a limited vocabulary but everything was said in such a cute way that it always warmed my heart. One of the Yellow-collareds most endearing traits is to virtually throw themselves at you from their cage … sometimes even upside down. YCMs are very acrobatic and play with gusto. The ones that I have known love attention but are independent enough to play by themselves as long as they have lots of fun toys. They are sociable birds who adapt well to change. Bojo loved to hang off the front of my blouse and would help me with many household chores. One day I was being interviewed about parrots on live television. I was concentrating on what I was saying and glanced over to the monitor and suddenly realized that Bojo had taken all the buttons off of my blouse. About the same time I noticed, the cameraman must have noticed too because he moved in for a head shot.

(Alipiopsitta xanthops, previously Amazona xanthops/Salvatoria xanthops)
This is an interesting parrot that has been listed as an Amazon but now through DNA, it is presumed to be more closely related to the Pionus family or the Short-tailed Parrot (Graydidascalus brachyurus). They are endemic to eastern and central Brazil and into Bolivia. They are very rare in captivity but a few breeders have them and they are beginning to be available in the pet trade. Most people state that their personalities are more like a Pionus with a dash of Amazon.

YELLOW-FRONTED AMAZON (Yellow-crowned Amazon)
Aka as the Yellow-crowned Amazon. The Yellow-fronts I have known have all been delightful ... if there is such a bird with bad behaviors, he or she has escaped my acquaintance. The ones that I have met have been gentle and playful. Many of the people who live with these parrots describe them as being the absolute sweetest, most easy-going Amazon companion. They are often described as remaining even tempered as adults whether they are companions or breeding birds. They seem less likely to form a strong exclusive bond than some of the other Amazons and often stay tame to all of the people in their lives. Perhaps all of the Yellow-fronts I have known were well-socialized. That could certainly account for why they were all such wonderful birds? 

YELLOW-LORED AMAZON (Amazona xantholora)
Also known as the Yucatan Amazon, this bird is rare in captivity. They live in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico with small populations down to Belize and Honduras. They are a CITES II species and are not considered to be endangered in the wild although as with just about all Amazons, their populations are declining in parts of their range due to habitat destruction. They are an attractive Amazon and it amazes me that this is not a parrot that is common in aviculture or in the pet trade since they are a fairly common Amazon in Mexico and Mexican parrots have been exploited by the pet trade for many years. I have never seen one of these parrots or talked to anyone who has one and have only found a few records of them for sale. They are similar in some ways to the White-fronted Amazon and there seems to be some confusion with the two species. 

(Amazona auropalliata)

Napes are one of the three best-known Amazons who have similar outgoing, spirited, and excitable personality traits. Yellow-napes are known as the quintessential talking and singing Amazons. They are usually very clever parrots and seem to be born (hatched) entertainers. Napes love to show off and can be very gregarious. With proper guidance, they can remain very tame and loving to the people in their lives. Napes are often great cuddle wrestlers and love hands-on playing with their favored human friends. However, people should watch for a yellow-nape's very readable body language because it will predict overload behavior.  With proper care and diet, these Amazons can be robust and full of energy. As with other generally excitable Amazons, the nape needs rules and guidance to maintain their quality as human companions. People need to be aware of their potential for "overload" behavior when they become too excited. When this happens, the parrots should be left alone to calm down or asked to step onto a stick and carefully transferred to the cage. Previous stick training can really come in handy in these situations. Like the Double-yellow head, napes can be "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" birds and may be very friendly with people they normally aren't tame with if their favored person is not there. Napes can be noisy but with good vocal training a lot of that type of negative behavior can be turned into marvelous singing and clever conversation.

(Amazona barbadensis)

This adorable little bird is one of my favorite Amazons (I know, I know, I have said that about so many Amazon species. Suffice it to say that I love Amazon parrots and at one time or another it seems that everyone one of them have been my favorite.!) At about a foot from tail to beak, the yellow-shouldered is one of the more petite Amazons but is large in personality. They are genuinely one of the sweetest Amazons, however, they don't lack the spunk of the other Amazon parrots that people are more familiar with. These parrots have not been that available until the late 1990s or so. They are considered vulnerable in their native habitats of northern Venezuela and a few nearby islands. They have been extirpated from the islands of Aruba and Curacao. On a good diet and in good feather, these parrots shine. A lot has changed and they are now available as companions ... and what a great little companion they are! I had only met one or two of these little jewels until I moved to Colorado. they have all been delightful. One clutch was raised with three Blue-headed Pionus and a White-bellied Caique. Maybe the caique influenced the Yellow-shoulders but these little guys were inquisitive and playful enough to be into everything. One of the babies started to talk at a very young age and I am told that they can develop a good vocabulary. Most of all they seem to be one of the sweetest Amazon species that I have met and they are really beautiful little parrots.

YELLOW-SIDED CONURE (Pyrrhura molinae/Pyrrhura hypoxantha)
There seems to be a difference of opinion as to whether this is a subspecies, a naturally occurring mutation, or a breeder created mutation of the Green-cheeked conure. Whatever the yellow-sided conure is, it is a stunning little conure.



Zinc in the diet assists in the activity of several enzymes and is essential to the immune system and wound healing. It also helps regulate insulin production and aids in thyroid function. As with most minerals, zinc is a necessary as a small part of the diet but should not be supplemented. Feeding a quality diet of fresh foods will give your parrot all of the zinc that is needed in his or her diet. Sources of zinc in the diet of a parrot can include spinach, collard greens, broccoli, peas, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and mustard greens. The problems that some parrots have had with zinc toxicity are caused by them chewing on something metal that has zinc in it. From what I have heard the worst problem is from cages and padlocks. A person would have to feed excessive amounts of the previously mentioned foods for nutritional zinc to be a problem.

While dietary zinc is necessary and not a problem for parrots unless it is consumed in great quantity, zinc flecks from padlocks, plated metal toys, costume jewelry, cage paint, and other sources can cause serious health problems. One of the worst sources for zinc toxicity in larger parrots is padlocks that people use to guarantee that the birds can't escape from their cages. If the parrots can reach the padlocks, they will most likely chew on the lock. If the padlock is zinc plated, it can cause serious problems. Zinc plated hardware used in parrot toys can also be a problem if the parrot is a heavy chewer. If you think that your parrot has consumed zinc metal, take your parrot to the vet immediately. If zinc is flushed from the crop before it enters the digestive system it will not be as serious a problem. Some older parrot cages may also contain high levels of zinc that can cause problems if the bird chews on the paint or metal.

Any disease that can transfer from an animal to a human is considered a zoonotic disease. The best known parrot to human zoonotic disease is psittacosis.(Chlamydophila). When a human gets psittacosis, it can be similar to the symptoms of a respiratory flu. Most doctors will not check for psittacosis unless you make it very clear that you have been around birds that could be sick. 

ZUCCHINI SQUASH (see Summer Squash) 

The term for a bird foot that has two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing back is zygodactyl. Parrots have zygodactyl feet that come in handy for tree climbing. Some other climbing birds, including Woodpeckers, also have zygodactyl feet. Parrots are the only birds who use their feet to hold food while they are eating. Each toe on a parrot’s foot has a different number of bones. Companion parrots often have very dirty feet; make sure that your parrot’s feet get washed during his baths or showers. A good foot bath is an important part of bathing. Remember most parrots hold food in their feet. Then it gets on the perches — a bacterial breeding ground. Make sure that you keep your parrot’s perches clean.  

In the Hyacinth macaw, the zygomatic arch consists of three fused bones that are about the size of a Q-tip. Although this bone has a lot to do with the fact that the macaw can crack macadamia nuts, it can be fragile. If pressed on too hard during grooming or examination, the bone can break. It is best not to put any pressure on the cheek area of the bird. Although the zygomatic arch on other parrot's heads might not be as powerful as the hyacinth, care still need to be taken in holding any parrot for grooming or examination.  




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