September 25, 2018 PetGuide
PetGuide logo

Dusky Parrot

  • Size: 10 inches
  • Lifespan: 25+ years
  • Bird Species: Pionus Parrot
  • Colors: Brownish grey
  • Sounds: Quiet, Natural calls
  • Interaction: Social, Affectionate, Fun, Friendly, Docile, Calm. Devoted
  • Comparable Breeds: Maximilian’s Parrot, White Capped Pionus

New Search

Known for its quiet and down to earth personality, the Dusky Parrot is a popular member of the Pionus family. Stable populations, low-maintenance needs, and a wonderful temperament are the major reasons behind the breed’s rising popularity in aviculture. One of the most interesting Pionus parrots, they differ from their cousins in both looks and personality traits and have something to offer to anyone- avian enthusiast and pet owner alike.

Dusky Parrot was a very rare sight up to the 1970’s. Since then they have established themselves as one of the most popular pet parrots.

These parrots inhabit the large part of northern South America. The largest populations are found in the so-called Guiana Shield, and cover parts of Brazil, Suriname, Guianas, and eastern Venezuela. Their habitat is bordered by rivers such as Rio Branco, Rio Madeira, and Rio Cuyuni. These cavity-nesting parrots are thriving in the region’s humid rainforests as high as 1200 meters, and they are a breed with stable populations and minimal threats. One of the unique habitats they enjoy are the varzea and igapo ecosystems – or permanently flooded forests.

Differing very slightly from the other members of the Pionus family,  the Dusky Parrot stands out mostly for its personality traits. The adults reach an average length of 10 inches (26 centimeters)  and weigh around 8 ounces (220 grams) max. Some of their features are quite unique and set them apart, like the sharp beak, unique and vibrant coloring and the prominent black eyes. They are noted for having one of the deepest wing strokes amongst all parrots. In flight, their wings touch each other – an occurrence that is not very common in the bird world.

The major aspect that differs from closely related Pinous parrots is their lack of talking talent. They can mimic some basic sounds, and with a little training, they might learn just a few words. Some pets might not learn any at all. They are also one of the quieter pet parrots – owing to their docile and laid back personality. This makes them a great choice for all owners who live in condos and apartments.

While they are not some of the brightest or exotically colored birds, they still possess a lot of charm with their mellow colors and subtle little details. The body is mostly brownish gray, with lighter, pinkish tones on the belly. The wings are dark gray, with blue and green tones on the tips. Their cheeks and nape are also dark grey, speckled with small white feathers – a unique detail that makes them easy to distinguish. The red feathers on the tail’s underside are a common detail for all Pionus parrots. Their big black eyes complete the look and really stand out. Even though they lack a variety of bright colors, this toned down and simplistic look still has its charms.

These friendly parrots can become alarmed if left alone for a long time. They will gasp and make wheezing sounds when this happens.

In the wild, these parrots thrive on a careful selection of nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects. A commercial seed based mix for Pionus parrots will serve as a great introduction into a healthy and balanced diet for your pet. As always, a regular addition of fresh fruits and vegetables is a must. A cuttlebone can be added as it serves as an important source of calcium, a toy and a way for your pet to exercise their beak.

Although they are pretty lightweight and give off a fragile look, the Dusky Parrots are well known as a hardy and durable pet. If you fail to provide a large enough cage and a lot of exercise, you risk your pet becoming obese and developing a lot of other issues. One of the direct results of obesity is the deadly infection called “aspergillosis”. Heavy, rasping and difficult breathing is the first symptom. That’s why plenty of playtime, exercise, and a balanced diet are so important for your pet.

A balanced, healthy diet and plenty of exercise outside of the cage can prevent obesity – a very dangerous thing for parrots.

Dusky Parrot is a very popular pet worldwide. One of the reasons behind it is their laid back, down to earth personality and a friendly disposition to family and guests. They are a playful, energetic breed with an often affectionate nature. Those looking for a fun and loving pet will be very pleased with their Dusky Parrot companion. On the other hand, they might be too dependent on your company and friendship, and if you can’t avoid leaving them alone for a large part of the day, then they might not be a good choice for you. You’ll need to make sure you can be there often enough. This is why Dusky Parrots are the perfect pet for big families. In any case, with this loving little bird, you are guaranteed a fun and long-lasting friendship.

Photo credit: The Internet Bird Collection website

Comparable Breeds

Go to Maximilian’s Parrot

Maximilian’s Parrot

  • Size: 12 inches
  • Lifespan: up to 40 years
  • Bird Species: Pionus Parrots
  • Colors: Green with various details
  • Sounds: Quiet, Natural calls, Talkative
  • Interaction: Social, Energetic, Affectionate, Fun, Cuddly
  • Comparable Breeds: African Grey Parrot, White Capped Pionus
Go to White Capped Pionus

White Capped Pionus

  • Size: Medium
  • Lifespan: 25-40 years
  • Bird Species: Pionus Parrots
  • Colors: Green, Yellow, Blue, Gradients
  • Sounds: Whistler, Vocal, Mimics sounds, Whispers
  • Interaction: Highly Social, Playful, Affectionate
  • Comparable Breeds: Sun Conure, Spectacled Parrotlet