The Blue Headed Pionus



  • Common Name:  Pionus - Blue Headed
  • Other Common Names:  Blue Headed Parrot
  • Scientific Name:  Pionus menstruus menstruus 
  • Group:  
  • Origin or Range:  Central and South America
  • Relative Size:  Average
  • Average Lifespan:  25-60 years
  • Compatibility:  Average 
  • Category:  Parrots

The Blue Headed Pionus is also known as the Blue Headed Parrot. It is easily recognizable by its striking blue head plumage. Unfortunately young Blue Heads do not display their plumage until maturity, and they may be passed over for parrots that are more striking when they are young.

The Blue Headed Pionus is known for its good-natured personality. Though, there are always exceptions, and like all parrots individuals can have their moods. Personality may also change when they reach sexual maturity, and males and females may show different personality traits. Males may generally be more aggressive than females, especially after puberty. Like most parrots, they may get cranky during breeding season, and moods may change periodically throughout the day. As one hobbyist put it, "When they're gentle they're gentle, but when they're aggressive, they're down right viscous". This is of course true, for many parrot breeds. They are quite popular as pets because of their friendly personalities and intelligence. Compared to Amazons and Conures, these are quiet parrots, though as with most parrots they are capable of making large amounts of noise if they desire. Also, individuals may vary greatly. This fact should be considered before purchase if you live in an apartment. The Blue Headed Pionus is a highly intelligent bird and is reported to learn commands such as "step up" and "step down" with ease. Like most Pionus, they are not known to be good talkers. If you would like a talking parrot, you might do better with an African Grey. Some Blue Heads do talk, but this is usually the exception and not the rule. Also those that do speak tend to have small vocabularies and do not usually have clear speech. They are reported to be easy to tame and generally have very pleasant dispositions. The average lifespan of this parrot may be as long as 40 years, sadly the average is closer to 25 years. This may be due to poor nutrition and preventable accidents.

This Pionus is not sexual dimorphic and therefore will need either DNA or surgical sexing to distinguish males from females. They have a uniformly colored green plumage on their bodies and a bright blue plumage that cover their necks and heads. They also have some pink feather bases on the plumage that covers their neck, but this is more pronounced in the subspecies P. m. rubrigularis (Paler Blue-headed Parrot). P. m. rubrigularis also has a duller head color, making them easier to distinguish. They can be distinguished by the third subspecies P. m. reichenowi, because P. m. reichenowi (Reichenow's Blue-headed Parrot) lacks pink throat feathers entirely, and they also have darker blue plumage. Like other Pionus species they have red feathers underneath their tails. They have dark grey legs and feet, and red markings on their mandibles. Immature birds may be distinguished by the fact that they have very little blue plumage on their heads. They will reach full coloring by 2 years, though after the first molt they usually have a significant increase in blue color. Blue Headed Parrots are medium sized, averaging 11 inches (27.5 centimeters) in length.

They are native to Central and South America and is most commonly found from Costa Rica to Brazil.

The Blue Headed has a higher susceptibility to the disease aspergilliosis. That is usually first seen as heavy, labored breathing. This may be confusing to new owners because like other Pionus species the Blue Headed may make a "wheezing" sound when frightened. Some may also make a similar sound when they are stroked and sounds more like a hiss.

This parrot should be kept in a large cage where it has plenty of room to play. Like other Pionus species the Blue Head is susceptible to stress.

They should be fed a varied and nutritious diet consisting of a mixture of commercial pellets, a healthy seed mix, nuts, fruits, and greens. And while they do not generally like baths, most will enjoy a shower.

The Blue Headed Pionus is bred regularly in captivity. Breeding season will usually begin sometime in May. They tend to have an average of 3 to 4 eggs, which incubate for close to a month (26 days). They fledge at 70 days and are usually independent by 3 months of age.


STARescue, Inc.

Copyright 2004 [Southeast Texas Avian Rescue, Inc.]. All rights reserved. Revised: 12/10/11