Amazona ochrocephalayellow-crowned parrot

Geographic Range

Amazona ochrocephala is found from central Mexico to central South America, including to the southern Amazonian Basin east to Peru, and including Trinidad and other Carribean Islands. They have been introduced to southern California and south Florida. (Decoteau, 1983; Perrins, 1990)


Yellow-crowned parrots are found in a variety of habitats ranging from humid lowlands and tropical forests to deciduous woodlands and tall scrubland. They can also be found in pine forests and agricultural areas. (Grzimek, 2003; Perrins, 1990; Rodner, et al., 2000)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 900 m
    0.00 to 2952.76 ft

Physical Description

Yellow-crowned parrots have a mass of 402 to 561 g and are usually around 35 cm in length. They generally have bright green feathers edged in black with yellow markings on the head and face. Yellow-crowned parrots have yellow feathers directly above the beak. The cere and hairs around the nostrils are black. The beak is usually dark gray to black. The tail is short (about 10.16 cm) and squared-off at the base. Males and females are similar. (Decoteau, 1983; Freud, 1995; Grzimek, 2003; "Avian Web", 2006; Davis, 1972; Decoteau, 1983; Freud, 1995; Grzimek, 2003; Ridgely, 1976)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    405 to 561 g
    14.27 to 19.77 oz
  • Average length
    35 cm
    13.78 in
  • Range wingspan
    20.3 to 21.6 cm
    7.99 to 8.50 in


Yellow-crowned parrots are monogamous birds. They have simple courtship displays for attracting mates that include bowing, wing-drooping, wing-flicking, tail-wagging, foot-raising, and dilation of the eye pupils. When roosting, pairs remain close together. (Forshaw and Kirshner, 1998; Grzimek, 2003)

The breeding period for yellow-crowned parrots is December through May. In this time, they lay clutch sizes of 2 to 4 eggs, laying only one clutch per season. It takes about 25 days for the eggs to hatch and about 56 days for them to become fledglings. Offspring become independent about 2 months after they hatch. Both male and female yellow-crowned parrots reach sexual maturity at about 3 years. (Grzimek, 2003; Sibley, et al., 2001)

  • Breeding interval
    Yellow-crowned parrots breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from December through May.
  • Range eggs per season
    2 to 4
  • Range time to hatching
    24 to 27 days
  • Average time to hatching
    25 days
  • Average fledging age
    56 days
  • Average time to independence
    2 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 to 4 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 4 years

Up to one month before the first egg is layed, female A. ochrocephala prepare a nest in a tree hollow. The female lays a clutch of 2 to 4 eggs (at 2 day intervals) which she incubates for 24 to 27 days. The eggs are plain white with no shell markings and have an elliptical shape. During this time, the male remains close to the nest entrance and feeds the female. After hatching, the female remains with the young for most of the day, occasionally taking breaks to forage. A few days after the eggs hatch, the male begins to enter the nest cavity to feed the young, although the female still does the majority of the feeding. (Grzimek, 2003; Rodriguez Castillo and Eberhard, 2006; Walters, 1994)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female


Yellow-crowned parrots, like most large parrots, have a very long lifespan. Little is known about the lifespan of yellow-crowned parrots in the wild. In captivity large parrots can live for up to 100 years. ("Avian Web", 2006; "Avian Web", 2006; "Avian Web", 2006; "Avian Web", 2006; Sibley, et al., 2001)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    56 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    56 years


Yellow-crowned parrots are social birds. They are sedentary and only move locally in accordance to changes in food supply. At night, outside of the breeding season, yellow-crowned parrots can be found in large flocks at roosts. During the day, however, they are found in smaller parties of about 10 birds for feeding. During their feeding time, yellow-crowned parrots are generally quiet. They are strong fliers and fly high on long-distance flights. They have shallow wing beats with little or no gliding. They are also monogamous birds and the pairs remain close together. At clay-licks, yellow-crowned parrots associate with other species of parrots. (Grzimek, 2003; Stiles and Skutch, 1981)

Home Range

The territory of yellow-crowned parrots consists only of the area immediately surrounding their nests during the breeding season. The home range is only slightly larger and is dependent on the food resources available in the area. (Grzimek, 2003)

Communication and Perception

Yellow-crowned parrots give off a variety of metallic shrieks, whistles, squawks, and repeated screeches. Like other parrots, they have a complex and flexible repertoire, giving them the ability to mimic human speech. They also use visual perception for courtship displays. (Perrins, 1990)

  • Other Communication Modes
  • mimicry

Food Habits

Yellow-crowned parrots are opportunistic feeders and gather in treetops in parties of around ten to feed. They eat seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, blossoms and leaf buds. They use their feet to manipulate food and extract nut kernels with their beak and tongue. Yellow-crowned parrots are fond of maize and cultivated fruits. (Grzimek, 2003; Perrins, 1990)

  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers


Yellow-crowned parrots do not have many predators as adults. Natural predation on yellow-crowned parrots is primarily from boa constrictors (Boa constrictor), accounting for a 9.5% decrease in breeding success each year. Boa constrictors feed on fledgings and females found in or around the nest. Poaching by humans is the primary cause of breeding failure. Because of combined predation by snakes and poaching by humans, yellow-crowned parrots have very low breeding success (10-14%). (Rodriguez Castillo and Eberhard, 2006)

Ecosystem Roles

Yellow-crowned parrots eat seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries, and are important seed predators and seed dispersers. (Grzimek, 2003; Grzimek, 2003)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Yellow-crowned parrots have an uncanny ability to mimic human speech. Because of this ability they are popular as pets. Feathers are sometimes used in native decoration and Amazon parrots in general are popular with birders, encouraging ecotourism in their native ranges. (Grzimek, 2003)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Their love of cultivated fruits makes yellow-crowned parrots pests to orchard and farm owners in their range. They cause damage to maize and fruit crops. (Grzimek, 2003)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Yellow-crowned parrots have a "least concern" rating on the IUCN Red List. However, along with most other parrots, they have a CITES Appendix I status.


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Michelle Brittain (author), Kalamazoo College, Ann Fraser (editor, instructor), Kalamazoo College.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


imitates a communication signal or appearance of another kind of organism


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


Avian Web. 2006. "Avian Web" (On-line). Yellow-crowned or Yellow-fronted or Yellow-headed Amazon. Accessed October 14, 2006 at

Davis, L. 1972. A Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico & Central America. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Decoteau, A. 1983. The Handbook of Amazon Parrots. Neptune City, NJ: TFH Publications.

Eberhard, J., E. Bermingham. 2004. Phylogeny and Biogeorgraphy of the Amazona Ochrocephala (Aves: Psittacidae) Complex. The Auk, Volume 121/Issue 2: 318-332.

Forshaw, J., D. Kirshner. 1998. Encyclopedia of Birds. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Freud, A. 1995. The Complete Parrot. New York, NY: Macmillan.

Grzimek, B. 2003. Grzimek's Animal LIfe Encyclopedia. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.

Perrins, C. 1990. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds- the definitive reference to birds of the world. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.

Ridgely, R. 1976. A Guide to the Birds of Panama. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rodner, C., M. Lentino, R. Restrall. 2000. Checklist of the Birds of Northern South America. New Haven, CT: Yale Univeristy Press.

Rodriguez Castillo, A., J. Eberhard. 2006. Reporductive Behavior of the Yellow-Crowned Parrot (Amazona Ochrocephala) in Western Panama. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 188/2: 225-236. Accessed October 13, 2006 at

Sibley, D., C. Elphick, J. Dunning. 2001. National Adubon Society: The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. New York, NY: Chanticleer Press, Inc..

Stiles, G., A. Skutch. 1981. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Ithaca, NY: Comstock Publishing.

Walters, M. 1994. Eyewitness Handbooks Birds' Eggs. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley.