The Maximilian Pionus



  • Common Name:  Pionus - Maximilian
  • Other Common Names:  Scaly Headed Parrot, Scaly Face Pionus
  • Scientific Name:  Pionus maximiliani maximiliani 
  • Group:  
  • Origin or Range:  South America
  • Relative Size:  Average
  • Average Lifespan:  20 years
  • Compatibility:  Relatively Non-Aggressive
  • Category:  Parrots

The Maximilian Pionus is also known as either the Scaly Face Pionus or the Scaly Head Parrot.

The Maximilian Pionus is known for its good natured behavior and makes a good pet. They are not as high strung as some parrots, but they may also become overly sedate and this can lead to obesity, if they are not kept active. They are not aggressive and are known to do quite well in communal aviaries with other species. They should have plenty of toys and room to move about their cages. Unlike Amazon Parrots, the Maximilian Pionus is known for being quiet. They are, however, quite capable of being loud and this should be considered if looking for a suitable pet for an apartment. The Maximilian Pionus is an intelligent parrot, and like the Blue Headed Pionus, some have been reported to talk. They are not as good at talking as the African Grey, but many can develop a small vocabulary. There are four subspecies of Maximilian Pionus. The nominant form described in this article is described by the scientific name Pionus maximiliani maximiliani. The others are Ribeiro's Scaly-headed Parrot (P. m. melanoblepharus), the Siy Parrot (P. m. siy), and the Tucumán Parrot (P. m. lacerus). The last three subspecies are not as common in captivity as the nominant form.

The Maximilian Pionus is a medium sized parrot, measuring 11.5 to 12 inches (29 to 30 centimeters) at maturity. They are the larges Pionus. Like other Pionus species, males and females cannot be distinguished visually. DNA or surgical sexing is required to differentiate males from females. Of all the Pionus species the Maximilian is the least colorful and some describe them as looking "unkempt" because it is not unusual for their down feathers to peak out from their plumage. They have a dark, muted olive green plumage. In direct sunlight, however, their plumage appears iridescent. Like other Pionus species the underside of their tails are red. They have violet blue bands on their necks and throats and nearly black lores. The feathers on their heads are outlined in dark grey and this gives the appearance of scales, which explains their unusual name. They have a dark brown iris and grey feet. Immatures can be distinguished from adults by the presence of red on their foreheads.

The Maximilian Pionus is native to South America and is seen in parts of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. In the wild the Maximilian Pionus is found in varying sized groups. Some may be as small as pairs, while others may travel in large flocks of up to 50 individuals. They are most common in open woodlands and light forest. They are generally quiet in the wild when feeding. They will generally feed on nuts, wild figs, seeds, and berries.

The Maximilian Pionus does not have any special health concerns, other than a propensity to become overweight in captivity. This can be avoided, if they are kept stimulated with interesting toys and activities. They should also be fed a balanced, well rounded diet, and fatty seeds such as sunflower and safflower should only be fed as a treat. They should also be given plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sadly the Maximilian Pionus usually only reaches half of its potential lifespan in captivity. This is largely due to improper diet and care. The average Maximilian Pionus lives 20 years, though they can reach 40 years with proper care.

The Maximilian Pionus has been bred regularly in captivity. Aviculturists suggest breeding after they reach 3 years of age. After breeding, females will lay an average of 4 eggs that take 26 days to incubate. They may have 2 to 3 clutches in one season.


STARescue, Inc.

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