About Amazon Parrots: The Mealy Amazon: Once Common, Now Forgotten
By Phil Samuelson, Guest Blogger
One day while browsing through a large feed store in Santa Barbara, California, I came across an interesting sight. The storeowner was a horse enthusiast who also loved parrots and would usually have a few for sale. A green-winged macaw had been there so long he was practically the store mascot. He was always the most conspicuous bird on the large “bird tree” where the parrots spent their days. From this location, he would say “Hello” to customers who passed by.
On this particular day, however, I saw that the green wing wasn’t alone on the tree. Perched at the top looking very stoic was a large green bird. He stood motionless, like a statue. The large, conspicuous ophthalmic (eye) ring reminded me of a conure, but the short tail was a giveaway that I was looking at something else. Seeing the powdery appearance of the bird’s back plumage, it slowly dawned on me that I was looking at a mealy Amazon parrot (Amazona farinosa). I’ve always been curious about Amazon Parrots. This species is one of the largest of the Amazon genus, and I was impressed by his size and subtle beauty. There was something noble about him.
Upon questioning the storeowner, she told me that the parrot was indeed a mealy Amazon and his name was Bert. He was on consignment from a woman who happened to look out her front window one day to see a group of cats surrounding another cat that had a large green bird pinned down. She ran out and successfully rescued the bird by chasing the cats away. Bert had an injured wing, so she took him to the vet for treatment, and he soon made a full recovery. The woman had no desire for a loud pet bird, however, so he was brought to the feed store. He had been there several months.
I left the store that day without Bert but thought about him often over the next week. When I went back to see him again, I decided to take the plunge into mealy Amazon ownership. I purchased not only with Bert, but bags of food and a large cage. Bert settled into my apartment quickly. When I got him home, I placed him on a T-stand, and he perked up, raising the feathers on his face as if he were smiling. Soon, Bert flapped his wings and made a series of unique chirps and chuckles that were unlike anything I had heard before. I was somewhat startled when spoke up, saying cheerfully “Hi, Bert!” in a comically high voice. Bert had found his permanent home, and I own him to this day.
The mealy Amazon was found in the pet trade for decades but was never a very popular species. They were never bred with much regularity in aviculture and have now become rare. There are six subspecies. The most commonly seen race is the nominate subspecies, Amazona farinosa farinosa, which usually sports a crown with yellow feathers, sometimes flecked with red. The blue-crowned mealy, Amazona farinosa guatemalae, is easily identified by its gorgeous crown of vivid sky-blue feathers. Also seen sometimes is Amazona farinosa virenticeps, with a greenish, almost teal, crown. Seen much less often are A. farinosa chapmani and A. farinosa inornata.