Yellow Nape Questions

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Q: I commend you on your extensive work with Amazon parrots. I feel a little funny contacting you about my situation because I breed African greys and canaries. I just got my Honduran yellow nape sexed and would like to purchase a mate.

My questions concern the breeding of yellow naped Amazons. I breed my African greys and canaries in my basement. I have visual dividers between my grey cages. I’ve heard that Amazons are extremely noisy when they are a pair. Is this true? Would the yellow napes, being in close proximity with the greys, hinder the greys from breeding? Would a visual barrier be enough ? What diet do you recommend ? Should the lighting time be 16 hours a day? Is it true that yellow napes breed once a year, in February or March?

A: Please don’t feel funny about contacting me on any subject. I not only have highly successful Amazon and macaw breeding programs, I also work with most all of the other New World parrots, as well as with African greys and cockatoos. In the past 25 years, I have worked in one form or another with most forms of psittacines.

Whether or not birds become more or less noisy when they are paired up depends on the actions of the aviculturist. On one hand, they are likely to become a bit quieter because they will not be screaming for your attention. On the other hand, they will become a bit noisier when it comes to resented intrusion. Of course, the usual sounding off that happens at the beginning and the end of each day remains the same regardless of whether or not your birds are paired. The bottom line is that if you do not intrude at times you are not supposed to, the birds will be generally quieter in pairs. The misconception that Amazons are noisier when you have a pair stems from their actions when the members of the pair are kept in separate cages. When people purchase a mate for an Amazon that they already have, it is usual to quarantine the newcomer in a separate cage. This will often result in the two potential partners continually calling back and forth to each other. A similar situation can result when you house the two in separate cages to let them “get to know each other.” These vocalizations should cease when you put them in the same cage. You are correct in assuming that there are compatibility problems between greys and Amazons. Total visual blinds should be enough to rectify this. Vocalization from unseen Amazons is usually not a problem.

As far as diet is concerned, you must make your decisions while taking into account your specific set of circumstances. Among the many things that you must take into consideration are whether or not your birds are overweight, how much time you have for food preparation and local availability of foods. In general, a highly nutritious, low-fat diet during the “off season” is recommended.

Sixteen hours of light a day is more than enough. Twelve to 14 hours would be a lot closer to the birds’ natural photo period. The truth is that they are not highly motivated one way or the other because of an extended photo period (unless it comes as a relief from a period of overly short days). In Honduras, CA, the difference between the longest and the shortest days of the year is only about one hour.

As a general rule, Amazons breed once a year. In the area of Honduras where most of the imported yellow napes have come from, some pairs will start laying as early as November. Most of the egg-laying takes place in December and January. Most of my yellow napes lay in January and February.