All About Bronze-Winged Pionus Parrot

all about Bronze-Winged Pionus Parrot
Meeting: Bronze-Winged Pionus Parrot

Meeting: Bronze-Winged Pionus Parrot

The Bronze-winged Parrot is a member of the Pionus genus in which there are eight mediumsized species, four of which have a number of subspecies, bringing to 19 the number of parrots which can be differentiated within the genus. They are:
• Bronze-winged Parrot Pionus chalcopterus—one additional subspecies.

• Dusky Pionus Pionus fuscus.

• Maximilian’s Pionus ili or Scaly-headed Parrot Pionus maximiliani—three subspecies.

• Blue-headed Pionus Pionus menstruus— two subspecies.

• White-crowned Parrot Pionus senilis.

• White-capped Parrot Pionus seniloides.

• Red-billed Parrot Pionus sordidus—five subspecies.

• Speckle-faced Parrot Pionus tumultuosus The natural habitat of the Pionus is areas of Central and South America. These are habitats where tropical and subtropical forest areas dominate.

All birds in this genus are compact in body structure, with short tails. They are similar in structure to Amazon Parrots but much smaller. The common characteristic of the genus is a skin ring around the eye and bright red feathers under the tail. Species variation includes plumage colouration, size—from 23–33cm long—and weight from 200–280 grams.


Bronze-winged Parrots are found in the north Andes mountains from the top, north-western region of Venezuela, in Sierra de Perija, along the Columbian border towards northern Colombia (Guajira), and in isolated pockets through the western Andes. A part of the population can be found in Panama, while others are in western Ecuador and in northwestern Peru (Piura and Tumbes regions).

The Bronze-wing is about 29cm in length and weighs approximately 210g.

There is only one subspecies—the Lesser Bronze-winged Parrot Pionus chalcopterus cyanescens. As its name suggests, it is a smaller bird, measuring about 27cm in length, with a wing length of 18-19cm. Its breast and abdomen edgings are bluer.

It lives in north-western Peru, western Ecuador, and south-western Colombia.

These two subspecies can be mated, producing fertile offspring.

In the wild, Bronze-wings can be seen in the plains and in higher areas, even in the mountains. Their most natural habitat is a subtropical cloud forest, in which clouds prevail throughout the day. The largest populations can be observed from 900–2800m altitude. Within that range there are various forms of lithosphere, climate and flora. These are mostly humid, mountain forests, abundant in vegetation and various plants. In these areas, farmers raise plantations of tropical fruit, coffee and grow corn. Bronze-wings have to fight other animal species for food and survival. Even in areas where wood-cutting, cultivation and pesticide usage are more intense, Bronze-wings have shown a great deal of adaptability. There is no published scientific data but their status is considered to be stable.


Bronze-wings are very shy and proficient in hiding from predators in the natural habitat. They live in flocks in which numbers of birds vary, depending on the season. During everyday activities there are several levels of protection. When they search for food, several birds fly in front of the flock. Then the whole flock circles around the spot where they might find food, and they fly down only when they are certain there is no danger. Just one unusual squawk—almost inaudible to the human ear—is enough for the bird guardian on the highest branches to warn his peers and the whole flock leaves the spot. Likewise, if any member of the flock feels threatened, it will sound the alarm. This cautious nature is typical for this species even in the aviary, where, within about 15 days of purchase, you will see a visible relaxation in your bird; it becomes relaxed, less cautious and its voice becomes more cheerful and happy.



Bronze-wing sounds are very pleasant.
Compared to Amazon Parrots, they are quieter and less aggressive and are the best speakers among the Pionus genus.

However, the vocabulary they can learn is limited and less than that of the Amazon.

They make less noise than Ara macaws and cockatoos, but if they are close to these or any other noisy birds, they may imitate their sounds. The easiest task for them is to imitate the sound of alarm clocks, microwave ovens, and whistles etcetera.

When scared, the Bronze-wing makes a whistle sound. Likewise, it reacts to strong fear and excitement with unusual sounds, which are the consequence of accelerated and disturbed breathing which sounds similar to a person with asthma.


Breeders should provide an aviary as big as possible if you want the birds to feel at least partially free. The dimensions must be at least 1.2m high x 1.2m wide x 2m long.

If Bronze-wings live in a smaller cage indoors, they must be allowed to fly freely in your home most of the day. Anything that can cause health problems for the bird (heaters, exposed electricity cables, houseplants etcetera) must be removed.

In the aviary, feeders should be placed in visible spots. They must be accessible for everyday cleaning and refilling. Water must be chemically and bacteriologically safe. It must not be contaminated by food leftovers or bird faeces. Likewise, these dishes must be protected from direct sunshine and rain.

The aviary must be of metal construction, covered with wire mesh. I think it is always good to have double wire mesh, with several centimetres of interspace. This is based on the following reasons:

1. Birds of prey can attack the bird in the aviary.

2. It stops contact with birds in the neighbouring aviary and potential injury, particularly during mating.

3. If the bird damages the wire mesh with its beak, there is always another protection layer, allowing you to repair the damage without the bird escaping.

I recommend sand for the floor because it absorbs all the undesirable products, and because it can be easily mixed with discarded food. The birds like to bathe in the sand and thus mechanically remove the ectoparasites.

Bronze-wings fly down or climb branches of various diameters in the wild. This form of physical activity has good effects on general health and develops leg muscles.

Thus, perches of different diameters are obligatory in the aviary or home, but they must be placed so as not to disturb flight.

Bronze-wings enjoy bathing in the rain, and if they live in a cage they look forward to misting sprays. They need a shallow dish filled daily with fresh with water, so they can bathe. They sleep for 12 hours daily.

How to Feed-Bronze-Winged-Pionus
Feeding: Bronze Winged Pionus

How to Feed Bronze-Winged Pionus

Bronze-wings’ diet is based on seeds, fruit, leaf shoots, certain flowers and various plant species which can be found where they live in the wild. They also eat insects and their larvae. The need for insects and other animal-based food is genuine, especially during the mating season.

During this period in the aviary, feeders should be filled with sufficient egg food, as well as other food which would be the source of nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and fresh water. It goes without saying that out of the mating season these birds must have varied feed—millet, oat, sunflower and soft corn. Vegetables should include carrots, broccoli, cabbage, peas, dandelion and chickweed, but also various fresh fruits. Fruit should make up about 30% of the entire diet.

However, you must take into consideration that these birds’ beaks are not as strong as parrots feeding on nuts and hard seeds, so the food should always be softer. Sometimes seeds with a hard structure need to be chopped up for them.

How to Breed Bronze-Winged Pionus

Males are very aggressive during mating, even towards the female. For that reason, several feathers should be removed, by clipping the primary flight feathers. This will allow the female to slip away unhurt from the male if he is aggressive. Males can also be aggressive towards the breeder or the birds in neighbouring aviaries. The urge is a result of the need to protect the territory and to provide safety for its family.

This behaviour is rare in nature because there is plenty of space at the male’s disposal and huge amounts of food during the nesting period.

Birds become mature from 3–5 years old. Do not rush them into breeding. Wait until the birds are mentally mature enough to bring up offspring.

Suggested nest box dimensions are 25cm x 25cm x 45–61cm. The diameter of the opening is about 10cm. The nest box should be placed at a concealed spot in the aviary, where the pair will not be disturbed. Likewise, it is very important that the nest box is on the highest and, if the circumstances allow, in the darkest place in the aviary. In the wild those are hollows higher than 10m. The floor of the nest box should be covered by sawdust. The birds remove the surplus of the sawdust themselves.

Preparation of the nest can last up to two weeks, and when the female starts spending more and more time in the box, it is a sign that she will lay eggs very soon. Constant nest-checking can be stressful for the bird, so don’t be too curious. The incubation period starts as soon as she lays the second egg, and eggs are laid in two-day intervals. The female lays 3–5 eggs, generally just once a year. The eggs are white, oval, and the dimensions of the diagonals are 29.5 x 23.5mm.

The female incubates for 24–26 days. The entrance and the exit of the nest box must be practical, so the eggs stay undamaged when she comes in or out of the box.

Young birds completely fledge in 8–12 weeks. During that period, the quality and quantity of food should be significantly better. It is necessary both for the young birds’ diet and because of the physical strain on the parents.

Sexual dimorphism is not apparent, so it is best to take a DNA analysis or buy several birds, giving you possibility that both sexes will be present and allowing birds to choose their own partners, resulting in more successful parenting. Bronze-winged Parrots are perfect parents and look after their offspring themselves.

Handreared birds are very gentle and amiable. However, their need for your company has a time limit and is dependent on their mood at the time. They enjoy their independence.


Bronze-wings, like all parrots, should be provided with good health care. Signs of illnesses the breeder should be aware of are ruffled plumage, resting often with their head turned back, having no appetite, sneezing, discharge from the nostrils, cloudy eyes and any change in the faeces. They are prone to visceral gout, aspergillosis, bacterial infection, coccidiosis, various forms of respiratory illness, fungal infections, and vitamin A deficiency.

They easily accept behaviour patterns, and if the pattern is characterised by bad habits, the quality of life is threatened.

They are susceptible to gaining weight, and upper-beak deformities are common.

It is important to be able to differentiate the sounds Bronzewings make when they are scared from those which are the consequence of illness. This is not a problem for experienced breeders. However, if you notice any sign or unusual behaviour, do not make any conclusions yourself but consult an avian vet.

If the Bronze-wing is provided with quality food in accordance with its physiological needs, and conditions similar to those in its natural habitat, it can live up to 40 years. You must not keep Bronzewings in a room where the temperature is lower than 5°C (41°F).


These species are listed under the CITES Appendix II list B. Legal obligation of all breeders is to ring young birds with a ring of 8mm in diameter. This simplifies the observation of bird behaviour as well as documenting all the information relevant for breeding.


For everyone who wants to have a pet parrot, I warmly recommend this species. Compared to the much more famous Amazon Parrots, Bronze-wings are quieter, less aggressive and very friendly towards all family members, as well as all Pionus genus.

Aviary breeding fans will have to put a lot of effort and work into successful reproduction, but it all pays off in the nice moments which this Pionus species has to offer.

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