The yellow-headed amazon (Amazona oratrix), also known as the yellow-headed parrot and double yellow-headed amazon, is an endangeredamazon parrot of Mexico and northern Central America. Measuring 38–43 centimetres (15–17 in) in length, it is a stocky short-tailed green parrot with a yellow head. It prefers to live in mangrove forests or forests near rivers or other bodies of water. It is sometimes considered a subspecies of the yellow-crowned amazon (Amazona ochrocephala). It is a popular pet and an excellent talker. Poaching for the international pet trade has driven the species to near-extinction in the wild; around half of all wild-caught birds are thought to die in the process. The yellow-headed amazon is CITES I listed, and there are legal restrictions on its trade and ownership, including a certification system.
The yellow-headed amazon averages 38–43 centimetres (15–17 in) long. The shape is typical of amazons, with a robust build, rounded wings, and a square tail. The body is bright green, with yellow on the head, dark scallops on the neck, red at the bend of the wing, and yellow thighs. The flight feathersare blackish to bluish violet with a red patch on the outer secondaries. The base of the tail also has a red patch, which is usually hidden. The outer tail feathers have yellowish tips.
Though only captive-bred yellow-headed amazons may be owned, these are widely available (if somewhat expensive) and their personalities make them highly desirable pets; they have been kept as such for centuries because they are among the parrots that “talk” best. Their vocal abilities are generally bested only by the African grey parrot and matched by similar species, such as the yellow-naped parrot. Yellow-headed amazons in captivity appear to have an affinity for both singing and the learning of song – and a naturally powerful, operatic voice.
As in most amazons, nervous plucking of plumage is rare among this species. A generally recognized disadvantage of the yellow-headed amazon and its close relatives (such as the yellow-naped amazon) is hormonal aggressiveness, most notable among males in the breeding season. It is a member of the “Hot Three” (referring to the male bird’s “hot” temper), along with the yellow-naped and blue-fronted.