Hawk-Headed Parrot Care Sheet

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Scientific Facts

Crimson Name:Hawk-Headed Parrot, red – fan parrot
Scientific Name:Deroptyus accipitrinus
Life Span:Up to 40 years in captivity
Country of Origin:Amazon rainforest

Physical Description

The hawk-headed parrot is one of the rarest parrot species and also one of the most unusual looking. It is a very colorful and unique parrot species that hails from the Amazon rainforest. It is popular for its mysterious looks and deep and complex personalities.  It is known to be grumpy, mischievous, and needs a lot of patience when training. If you’re a patient and loving pet owner, then you’ll go nicely with a hawk-headed parrot.

The hawk-headed parrot is so named because its head looks like the head of a hawk, but its colorful wings, body, and tail are like of a parrot. It is the only member of the Deroptyus genus, and it is found in countries that span the Amazon rainforest, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Suriname, French Guiana, Guyana, Venezuela, and northeast Peru.

The hawk-headed parrot is a medium-sized bird with an elongated neck feather that the bird can raise to create a colorful and elaborate fan. Doing this can increase the bird’s size and makes it look frightening. Experts say that this bird opens its fan-like neck feathers when it feels threatened. The wing feathers are mostly dark green while the body is a combination of dark red and aqua blue. The feet can vary from gray to black. The beak is black while the face is dark brown with white lines or streaks. There is a bare-black area around its eyes while its eyes are brown.

The interesting fan neck is red with light blue streaks. When the fan feather neck is not propped up, it looks like it blends with the color of the body. The bird can open the fan neck whenever it wants to.

This bird is slender and but can be as large as 14 inches long. It is impossible to tell which one is male or female despite the many unique traits of this parrot. The only way to tell if your pet is male or female is to take it to an avian vet.

Hawk-Headed Parrot status

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The hawk-headed parrot is classified as a species of Least Concern according to the IUCN. This is because of its abundance in the Amazon rainforest and the areas surrounding this lush forest. But, the numbers can dwindle if practices like deforestation, habitat destruction, and illegal pet trade will continue in the Amazon.

In 2019, several fires were created in the Amazon rainforest, and many said that this was because of the commercialization of the rainforest. Some say that farmers wanted to clear off land to plant crops, while some say that it happened due to lack of control by countries surrounding the Amazon. But nevertheless, the future of thousands of creatures, including the hawk-headed parrot, is on the line if this continues. 


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The hawk-headed parrot lives up to 40 years in captivity while the lifespan of wild parrots is unknown. Many say that captive parrots life this long because of the care, love, and attention they get from their owners. Also, advances in veterinary medicine have found the cure for many avian health conditions, which may contribute to the improved lifespan of many parrot species.

Natural Habitat

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Hawk-headed parrots are known as one of the earliest species of parrots described during the late 1750s. This parrot lives in the Amazon River basin, where food and trees are abundant. This bird has a broad region in South America, and they live in dense and untouched land in the rainforests. Hawk-headed parrots live and make their nests in the canopy as well as holes in the trees.

Perception and Communication

Hawk-headed parrots have the usual parrot sounds. When these birds play by themselves, they are quiet and may sometimes whisper, which often sounds like human speech. This parrot is quite grumpy and may get loud and nosy if they are not given what they want. You’ll hear high-pitched caws, shrill whistles, screams, and other annoying sounds if it becomes angry.


The hawk-headed parrot is known for its fierce temper. This bird can throw loud tantrums and will show how angry they are by fanning their neck feathers. It can take time to calm down and train a hawk-headed parrot, but once you do, you’ll see its quirky, cuddly, and affectionate true nature of this parrot.

Development and Breeding

The hawk-headed parrot creates nests in tree trunk holes and stumps. Only very little is known about the development and reproduction of this parrot species, and only two nests have been examined in the wild. As reported, this bird will lay two to three eggs, which will hatch after 36 days. Baby chicks will fledge after ten weeks old, and the mother and father usually feed the chicks until these are ready to fly away from their nests. It was also noticed that after laying two to three eggs, only one chick might survive and fledge in the wild after.

Food and Diet

Hawk-Headed Parrots are herbivores with their natural diet composed of seeds, fruits, nuts, nectar, and other plant-based food. Aside from plants, Hawk-Headed Parrots may also eat insects and insect larvae. 

In captivity, the Hawk-Headed Parrot may eat high-quality, commercially-prepared seed mixes. You can purchase one from the pet store with sunflower, oats, millets, and hemp seeds. You may also give hawk-headed parrots some fresh fruits, dried berries, vegetables, pine nuts, and jams. 

Captive parrots will require mineral supplements during the breeding season. The most important nutrient is calcium, which is needed for improved bone and egg health. Parents will also require soft food as they raise their chicks. 

Captive Environment and Housing

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Hawk-Headed Parrots need a large cage to remain in. Also, you need a very large cage if you want to keep more parrots for the company. Pick a spacious cage made of metal with a secure door. Keep this door locked and secure.

This bird needs sturdy branches where it can sit and perch. Select natural plants as places where they can stay. You may add cage furniture for your pet to play in like ropes, natural perching blocks, birdhouses, a medium-sized bowl, mirrors, swings, and more.

Leave a water basin and a container for food. The container must have a wide mouth so that the bird can easily eat from it. Consider using two or more food containers if you have several birds. Also, you can place the cage on top of a sturdy surface like a table, or you can use a cage with a stand. But no matter what, the area must not be under direct sunlight and should be free from moisture.

The cage should have good bedding to absorb urine and smells. Coconut husks or wood shavings are good bedding materials. You may also use old newspapers, paper towels, or brown paper as bedding.

When cleaning the cage, remove the bird from the cage first and hose it down to remove stuck dirt and grime. Remove food and water containers; clean these separately using a cleaning solution.

Use natural cleaning products with disinfectant properties to remove tough dirt and smell. You may place natural plants in the cage, and these must be cared for separately. Regularly remove dead stems and leaves. Water these regularly and take these out from the cage to have some sun at least once a week.

Health and Common Issues

The Hawk-Headed Parrot is a healthy breed but may suffer from some of the following health issues common to parrots.

  • Malnutrition

A hawk-headed parrot with an imbalanced diet or diets with insufficient nutrients may suffer from malnutrition. Symptoms of malnutrition are feather stress bars and dark feather colors, which may be harder to check out in a colorful parrot-like the hawk-headed parrot.

You can prevent malnutrition by making sure that your bird is getting enough sunlight, especially with indoor birds. If you cannot move the cage, use artificial birdcage lighting instead. Also, be very careful in changing the bird’s diet because usually, captive birds will refuse to eat the new food and may resort to starving themselves.

  • Parrot fever or psittacosis in birds

Parrot fever is an infectious disease common in most species of birds. This is spread through contact with the droppings of infected birds. Symptoms are restlessness, watery and green droppings, discharge from the eyes and nose, poor appetite, and lethargy.

Bird fever must be treated as soon as possible since it is dangerous to humans. You must wear proper protective equipment when feeding infected pets or cleaning their cages.

  • Pacheco’s disease in birds

Pacheco’s disease is a fatal viral disease due to a form of herpes virus. The infected bird may spread this through contact with infected droppings and nasal discharge. Sometimes, the herpes virus may be dormant and activated only when the bird is in stress. So don’t stress your pet.

Some stressful situations for parrots and birds, in general, are moving, the death of a mate, and breeding. Symptoms include tremors, sinusitis, lack of energy and anorexia, changes in the color of droppings, and in extreme cases, death. Prevent the spread of Pacheco’s disease by placing suspected birds infected with the disease on quarantine. Although this disease is dangerous to birds, it cannot be transferred to humans.

  • Avian polyomavirus in birds

Avian polyomavirus is an infectious disease in mammals and birds. This is a deadly disease that may affect young parrots. This may also be passed on to other birds through droppings.

Symptoms of avian polyomavirus are a large abdomen, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. If the disease is untreated, your pet can lose weight and may die. To prevent this, your pet must be vaccinated against avian polyomavirus. This disease may be passed on to humans, so, therefore, do not overlook your pet’s vaccinations.

  • Giardia in birds

Giardia is a parasitic infection that may be passed from one infected bird to another through cysts. Giardia cysts are present in large numbers in the bird’s droppings. The most common cause of giardia is unclean water supply. Symptoms of giardia include diarrhea, poor appetite, dry and itchy skin, and constipation. Giardia may be passed to humans if their water supply is the same as the water supply of birds. Take your pet to the vet once you spot any of these symptoms. 

Aside from these conditions, you must check your Hawk-Headed Parrot for a strange appearance or stance, trembling, poor balance, plucking of feathers, walking in circles, hanging their beak, and other very unusual behaviors. Any change in the bird’s breathing, droppings, eating, feathers, legs, and feet must be consulted to a vet ASAP.

Preventive Care

Just like all pet birds, a Hawk-Headed Parrot must undergo a complete physical examination every 6 to 12 months. Take it to an avian veterinarian and not just an ordinary vet for the best care. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to consult an avian vet.

Your pet parrot must also go through annual fecal examination for yeast, parasites, and bacteria infestation. It will also need vaccination for polyomavirus and routine blood testing to make sure that it is in perfect health.

Captive birds like the Hawk-Headed Parrot should have some nail and wing trimming once or twice a year. Only an avian vet can do these properly and carefully. And to avoid illnesses, clean your bird’s cage weekly. Remove droppings and wash the cage using a safe cleaning product. Clean the feeding and drinking dishes as well as its toys and cage furniture. Thoroughly cleaning the cage and its accessories can significantly help reduce diseases and other health conditions.

Availability – Where to Get One?

Hawk-Headed Parrots are available for sale from exotic avian pet stores. You can also purchase these from an online pet shop. The price for a Hawk-Headed Parrot online is around $500 depending on the gender, age, and other striking features of the bird. This is one of the most expensive species because of its exotic appearance. You may also need to pay for shipment and delivery fees.

Instead of buying a Hawk-Headed Parrot and other exotic birds from a breeder, you can also check animals available for adoption from bird adoption or rescue organizations. These are managed by groups that are looking for loving families and homes for abandoned or rescued birds.

How to Care for a Hawk-Headed Parrot?

Hawk-Headed Parrots have similar requirements for care as with other parrots but may also have unique requirements. Aside from providing basic care and medical attention, you must be ready to do daily cage maintenance, feeding, and interaction. This parrot has a fierce attitude, and overlooking interaction can make its behavior worse. Daily interaction can help remove gain your pet’s trust.

Choose an appropriately-sized cage. The cage should be big enough for your bird to spread his wings without touching the sides. When housing, more birds use a large cage or a custom-made enclosure. Place natural trees or plants to serve as perches and some safe toys. Remember that this bird’s native habitat is the Amazon, so make the cage as similar to what his natural habitat looks like.

Hold your pet regularly. This will create a close bond between you and your pet in the quickest time. Learn how to hold it carefully and gain its trust before you start perching it on your shoulders. This bird has sharp claws, so use a glove to protect your hands. This bird is not so fond of petting and holding, give it time to adjust but offer your hand daily.

Give it appropriate bird food. You can use commercially-prepared food which is available in most pet supplies. When feeding fruits and vegetables, choose organically produced food. Have a fixed feeding schedule and do not overfeed your pet to avoid health conditions related to obesity. Always maintain a bowl with clean water in the cage and replace this with fresh water daily.

Offer cuttlebone or any cage furniture to sharpen its beak. Cuttlebone also contains calcium, and thus your bird can eat this mineral as it sharpens its beak. Have your pet dewormed, and its nails and feathers trimmed regularly.

FAQ Section

What does a hawk-headed parrot eat?

Hawk-headed parrots eat mostly plant-based food, including seeds, fruits, nectar, twigs, roots, bark, and more. It may also eat insects like insect larvae.

Can hawk-headed parrot eat commercially-prepared food?

Captive hawk-headed parrots will eat commercially-prepared bird food because these are mostly composed of all kinds of seeds. You can also offer your pet hawk-headed parrot fruits and vegetables as long as you cut these into smaller pieces.

What does it mean when a hawk-headed parrot shows its neck feathers?

Showing off its elaborate neck feathers could mean that this bird is threatened or it’s angry. It can also scream, squeak, and make loud noises to tell you that it is impatient and wants something.

Will a hawk-headed parrot bite?

Yes, if a hawk-headed parrot is not yet tamed. It can nip the hand of its owner, and this can cause severe pain. This is why hawk-headed parrots should be talked and held daily to gain its trust and to prevent it from attacking people.

Can hawk-headed parrot eat its young?

Some female parrots may eat their young, and although this behavior has not been observed from hawk-headed parrots, you should always stay cautious and check the bird’s nest. If you see it eating its young, remove the bird, and never let this breed again.

Will a hawk-headed parrot stay in a cage with other parrots?

Yes, a hawk-headed parrot can live with other hawk-headed parrots and with other parrot species. They can be friendly with other birds, but this does not mean that they have become friendly and happy. These birds are still grumpy and mischievous.

Will a hawk-headed parrot mimic human noise?

Yes, when properly trained. Some pet owners say that their pet hawk-headed parrot can mimic their calls and whistles and not too much their voices or words. But this bird can be very noisy and may shout, shrill, shriek and whistle if it wants your attention.

Can a hawk-headed parrot whistle?

Yes, a hawk-headed parrot can learn how to whistle tunes.  Teach your bird by talking to it and whistling at it. Introduce only a new whistling tune after it has learned the old one.

How do hawk-headed parrots sleep?

Yes, this parrot will sleep during nighttime by perching on a strong branch and closing its eyes. This bird will also sleep with other birds and may remain huddled together for warmth.

Are hawk-headed parrots territorial?

Some owners say that they have noticed this behavior in their pets, but naturally, these are not territorial and will gladly share their foraging spots with their fellow birds.

Are hawk-headed parrots a good pet?

No, this parrot needs an experienced handler and pet owner because it needs special handling and attention. Someone new to handling parrots may not understand this bird’s grumpy and demanding attitude.

What is an avian vet?

An avian vet is a vet that specializes in birds or pet birds. They are better at diagnosing and treating bird illnesses than regular vets and thus a good professional you can count on.

How long does a hawk-headed parrot egg incubate?

The eggs of a hawk-headed parrot will hatch after 36 days of incubation.

Can you take a hawk-headed parrot egg from the wild?

If the nest is abandoned, then you can take the egg and incubate it. You need to create a warm incubator to fully protect the egg till hatching.

Can you teach hawk-headed parrot tricks?

Yes, you can teach this intelligent parrot tricks, but only after you have gained its trust and it can be handled and petted with ease. 

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