April 13, 2018 PetGuide
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Hawk-Headed Parrot

  • Size: Medium
  • Lifespan: up to 40 years
  • Bird Species: Parrot
  • Colors: Brown,Green, Spotted, Red
  • Sounds: Vocal, Noisy, Mimics sounds, Chatterer
  • Interaction: Highly Social, Inquisitive, Playful, Moody
  • Comparable Breeds: Alexandrine Parakeet, Budgerigar Parakeet

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Being amongst the rarest and most unusual pet birds today, the Hawk-Headed Parrots are intriguing and highly intelligent pets. They are well known for their deep and complex personalities, bossy behavior and most of all – their intricate and amazing looks. With their often grumpy and mischievous nature, they require a lot of patience and understanding – getting to know your Hawk-Headed Parrot will take a lot of time.

Even if they are often mischievous and bossy little birds, Hawk-Headed Parrots are also fun, cuddly and affectionate – when they want to be.

Hawk-Headed Parrots are one of the earliest parrots to be described, back in the late 1750’s. Their natural home is the Amazon River basin. It spans a broad region in South America, mostly Ecuador, Bolivia, Suriname, Guyana, and Brazil. They inhabit the dense and usually untouched Amazon rainforests where they nest in the canopy and holes in the trees.

These famous parrots are really unique looking, with many distinguishing traits. One of these is their famous imposing red crest, which they can raise and spread out above their head when excited or angry. This gives them another nickname – the Red Fan Parrot.

They are slender and light birds, but still large enough, reaching a length of circa 14 inches (35 centimeters). Even with the abundance of details in their appearance, there is no way to differentiate males from females – they are identical.

The usual sounds that most parrots will pick up are a trait of Hawk-Headed Parrots as well. When playing by themselves, they are usually quiet, with occasional whispers and soft sounds that mimic human speech. But given their grumpiness and a tendency to exert their will, they will get loud and noisy when their wishes are not granted. High pitched caws, piercing whistles and screams are plenty when a Hawk-Headed Parrot gets angry.

There are a lot of details you can spot on your pet hawkhead. Their head is dark brown, speckled with white dots. You can also spot their most distinguishing aspect – the crown at the base of the neck. When fully extended it displays lovely burgundy red feathers with blue endings. The back and wings are a dim, tropical green, while their chests and bellies are dark brown, spotted with different colors that make an intricate pattern.

You’ll be amazed when your pet hawk-head starts showing off – the red fan is their beautiful and unique detail.

Besides the commercial seed mixes and store-bought pellets, you will have to add some fruits and veggies to their diet. Meats, nuts, and dairy are also a source of important nutrients and should all be offered to your pet: Hawk-Headed Parrots need a higher fat diet. They won’t hesitate to let you know that your lunch should be shared.

Like most other large parrots, they too love to bathe. Whether in the sink, the shower or a bathing dish, they must have regular baths to keep their feathers clean and hygiene in check.

A Hawk-Headed Parrot as a pet is certainly a big commitment, but not without its rewards. With a lifespan of up to 40 years, you are in for a long time with your pet. With proper hygiene and diet, as well as enough socializing and peace, these birds will remain healthy and hardy. But like most other parrots, some signs should be observed: apathy, loss of appetite, crusted eyes, or ruffled and lost feathers are all sure signs of sickness.

Aim for optimal conditions such as temperature, no draft, and regular cleaning. Being large birds, they will need a roomy cage, but they are most often left to explore the house. They’ll use this chance to follow you around cuddling or boss you about, depending on their mood.

Hawk-Headed Parrots have complex personalities. Sometimes cuddly, and sometimes grumpy, you’ll get to experience both – like it or not.

There’s a lot to be said about the character of a Hawk-Headed Parrot. They are known for their temper. Not unlike little children, they’ll throw loud tantrums, showing you how angry and grumpy they are. It’s no secret that you will have to get to know your pet and have patience all the while. Once trust is established it will often show off its other side. These are the affectionate, cuddly and quirky aspects that you will grow to love.

Photo credit: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock; Rosa Jay/Shutterstock

Comparable Breeds

Go to Alexandrine Parakeet

Alexandrine Parakeet

  • Size: Medium-Large
  • Lifespan: up to 40 years
  • Bird Species: Parakeets
  • Colors: Green
  • Sounds: Whistler, Vocal, Noisy, Mimics sounds, Chatterer
  • Interaction: Social, Playful, Affectionate
  • Comparable Breeds: Large Indian Parakeet, Rose-Ringed Parakeet
Go to Budgerigar Parakeet

Budgerigar Parakeet

  • Size: 7-8 inches
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Bird Species: Budgerigar
  • Colors: White/yellow-based, other colors
  • Sounds: Whistling, mimicry, chitter-chattering
  • Interaction: Highly social
  • Comparable Breeds: American Singer Canary