The Mealy Amazon or Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa) is among the largest parrots in the Amazona genus, the Amazon parrots. It is a mainly green parrot with a total length of 38-41 cm (15-16 in). It is endemic to tropical Central and South America.
Range, common names and races
The Mealy Amazon occurs in tropical Central America and South America. It frequents humid to semi-humid forest (only rarely in deciduous forest) and plantations. In regions dominated by open/dry habitats it is restricted to gallery forest or completely absent.
Several subspecies have been described and these have alternative common names that are used frequently in aviculture:
- Nominate (A. f. farinosa): Found in SE Colombia, S. Venezuela, the Guianas, Brazil and N. Bolivia.
- inornata: Found in E. Panama, W. and N. Colombia, NW Venezuela and W. Ecuador. Also known as the Plain-colored Mealy Amazon.
- chapmani: Found in SE Colombia, E. Ecuador, E. Peru and NE Bolivia. Also known as the Chapman's Mealy Amazon.
- virenticeps: Found in Nicaragua to W. Panama. Also known as the Costa Rican Mealy Amazon or the Green-headed Amazon.
- guatemalae: Found in SE Mexico to Honduras. Also known as the Blue-crowned Mealy Amazon or the Guatemalan Amazon.
NOTE: Exact distribution limits between nominate, inornata and chapmani are unclear.
Note the characteristic mealy ("flour") texture over the back and nape of neck.
Blue-crowned Mealy Amazon.
The Mealy Amazon has a total length of about 38-41 cm (15-16 in) and weighs 540-700 g (19.01-24.64 oz). Captives commonly are heavier. It is among the largest parrots in the Americas, mainly being surpassed by the large macaws. It has a relatively short and squarish tail, as do the other members of the Amazona genus,
A Mealy Amazon (left) with two Yellow-crowned Amazons (right and center)
The Mealy Amazon is mainly green. The back and nape often have a whitish tinge; almost as if it had been covered in a thin layer of flour ("meal"; hence its name). The distal half of the tail is paler and more yellow than the basal half, thus resulting in a distinctly bi-coloured look. In flight it shows a bluish-black trailing edge to the wing and a conspicious red speculum. Occasionally a few yellow feathers are apparent on the top of the head and two subspecies, virenticeps and guatemalae, have a bluish-tinged crown. The maroon to orange eyes (typically appear dark from a distance) are surrounded by a relatively broad white eye-ring of bare skin.
In South America, it is commonly confused with the Yellow-crowned Amazon, but can be recognized by its larger size, less yellow to the crown (not entirely reliable, as some Yellow-crowned may show almost none), the whitish tinge to its plumage, broader white eye-ring, and red of the leading edge of the wing placed near the phalanx (not near the radiale), but this is often difficult to see (especially on perched birds). Their voices are also strikingly different.
The Mealy Amazon is social and can be found in pairs or in large flocks. They are even known to interact with other parrots, such as macaws. They are usually quiet but can be loud at dusk and dawn. In captivity, they are know as one of the gentlest and calmest of all amazons.
The diet of the Mealy Amazon consists mostly of fruits, seeds, berries, nuts, blossoms, and leaf buds.
After Mealy Amazons reach sexual maturity they usually form monogamous relationships with a single partner. Each year courtship usually begins in early spring, and the female will usually lay three or four white eggs in tree-cavity nest. The female incubates the eggs for about 26 days. The male regurgitate food for the female during the incubation period, and later for the chicks in the nest as well. The chicks leave the nest about 60 days after hatching.
Status and Conservation
It is fairly common in most of its range, but has declined locally due to habitat loss and trapping for wild parrot trade. Trafficking of the birds (as for exotic pets) is illegal in many nations, but the species are still smuggled into the United States from Mexico. In some areas Mealy Amazons are hunted as food. The Mealy Amazon sometimes feeds on human crops (especially corn) and may be considered a crop pest.
The Mealy Amazon is commonly bred in captivity.