Yellow Shouldered Amazon

Amazona barbadensis 

by Sally Blanchard

» From the arid areas of Venezuela. While the Yellow-shouldered has been extirpated from the islands of Aruba and Curacao, it is still found on Bonaire and a few islands off the coast of Venezuela. 
» Because of declining habitat, limited range, small populations, and capture for the pet trade, this beautiful little Amazon is classed as vulnerable.
» One of the smaller Amazon at about 12.5"

I didn’t even mention this wonderful Amazon in my species profiles in the Pet Bird Report back in 1996 because no one had heard anything about them. 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 the last few years. Since that time, I have met several and they have all been delightful. One clutch in an aviary I visited 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.

The Yellow-shoulder is one of the smaller Amazons. They have been rare in aviculture but are becoming available as companion parrots since concerned aviculturists have been holding their babies back for breeding. The Yellow-shoulders are considered to be endangered and the primary threats to their population numbers are destruction of habitat and capture for the pet trade. As with most Amazons, the Yellow-shoulders are social eaters and have been observed foraging in flocks of upto 80 birds. Their habitat includes arid rocky areas and their nests can be found in both tree cavities and rocky cliffs.

    Up until a couple of years ago, the only Yellow-shoulder Amazon I had ever seen was a very bad example of taxidermy. When I finally saw a live Yellow-shoulder, I was extremely impressed. I had no idea that they would be such beautiful little birds. When I visited to do a seminar, there were two velvety youngsters in Denise’s Parrot Place on Mercer Island near Seattle. The two Yellow-shoulders were right near the door and I was immediately enamored with them. Not only did they have the glossiest feathers, they both emanated personality. It is times like these when I have to convince myself that I am definitely NOT in the market for another parrot. Since that time I have talked with several people who have raved about the companion quality of these diminutive Amazons. One caregiver told me that her young bird is an excellent talker and learns very quickly.

One breeder I knew raised Yellow-shoulders and describes them as being curious, energetic, enthusiastic birds who engage life with gusto. She had a totally delightful youngster who had been with her awhile because no one had purchased him. Why? ... because no one knew yet how incredible these little Amazons are. I couldn’t understand this at all because this extremely handsome little guy was also personality plus. Since that time I have met a few more of these little gems that had delightful personalities. All of the birds I have met have been under 5-years-old old but I’ve been assured that these Amazons keep their charming personalities. I’ve yet to hear anyone say anything negative about them. These Amazons must still be a very well kept secret, but perhaps they won’t be a secret much longer, but every one I talk to loves theirs.




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