Genus Pionus

Genus Pionus
Bella and Zach

Genus Pionus is a group of about 8 different species of medium-sized parrots that are native to North, Central, and South America.

The defining features of Pionus are their stocky build, bare eye ring, and short square tail. They tend to have relatively subdued coloration as compared with more vibrantly colored species. Additionally, all Pionus have bright red undertail coverts. Also like most parrots there is no notable sexual dimorphism.

In flight Pionus are known to have a strong and deep wing beat. In fact the wing beat is so deep that the wings touch under the bird during the downstroke.

When excited or nervous, Pionus will emit an odd wheezing or snorting noise, which is often confused with respiratory distress. They are also know to give off a sweet and/or musky odor when excited as well.

In the wild Pionus diets consist mainly of fruits, but they also consume seeds, berries, flowers, and crops if available.

Pionus Species Descriptions

SpeciesCommon NameSubspecies (#)Subspecies and NominateDescription
tumultuosusPlum-crowned Parrot0tumultuosusBoth adults are generally green with paler green on underparts. They have a dark red crown and nape with red feathers on the sides of their heads tipped with purple and visible white bases. Their hindneck and sides of neck to their breast is wine/purple. Their red undertail coverts are tinted with purple and their green tail is red at the base. Their bill is olive/yellow. Their eye ring is bare and pale grey and they have brown eyes.
sordidusRed-billed Parrot5sordidusBoth adults have an olive/green head, with broad dark blue edging to the feathers of crown and occiput. They have olive cheeks, with blue tipped feathers.They have a blue band on a blue throat, along with a blue chin. Their underparts are dull olive, lightly washed with dull pink. Their undertail coverts are red light yellow/green tips. Their tail is red at the base. Their bill is distinctly red. They have pale grey eye ring and eyes.
sordidusRed-billed ParrotanteliusBoth adults paler than sordidus. They have more yellow/green tinges with a green throat a minimal/absent blue band. The pink wash on underparts is absent. They have a olive/yellow abdomen with paler margins to feathers. They are also smaller in size.
sordidusRed-billed ParrotponsiBoth adults are a darker green than sordidus. The blue band on the throat is absent and the pink on the chest is minimal or absent.
sordidusRed-billed ParrotsaturatusBoth adults, are similar to ponsi, but have paler, more yellow/green lesser wing coverts and upper tail coverts. They have a paler green abdomen and flanks along with less olive.
sordidusRed-billed ParrotcorallinusBoth adults are dull green and the paler edges to feathers are absent. There is blue edging to feathers of head. They have a purple/blue chin and band across throat. They are larger in size than other subspecies.
seniloidesWhite-capped Parrot0seniloidesBoth adults in general are green with paler lower underparts. They have a white forehead and forecrown. The feathers are grey just before the tips and are orange/red tipped on forehead. They have dark grey ear coverts marked with pink. Their cheeks and lores are white with dark grey edging on the feathers. The feathers on the forecheeks are sometimes edged with orange/red. The throat has a pink band which turns to red/purple on the chest which further blends with the brown on the abdomen. They have red undertail coverts and green tail with red at the base. Their bill is pale olive/yellow. Their eye ring is bare and pale grey and they have brown eyes.
senilisWhite-crowned Parrot0senilisBoth adults are in general green with yellow/green on underparts. They have a white forehead and forecrown with a white patch on the chin and middle of the throat. They have dark blue ear coverts with an olive breast and the feathers are edged with purple/blue. They have red under tail coverts with gold/brown lesser and median wing coverts that are dull green at the center.They have a green tail with a red at base. Their bill is green/yellow with grey at the base. Their eye ring is bare and brown/pink and they have brown eyes.
menstruusBlue-headed Parrot3menstruusBoth adults are in general green with a blue head and neck. They have a faint red band on the throat with dull black ear coverts. They have red undertail coverts tipped with blue/green. They have olive/brown lesser wing coverts and green median wing coverts, with wide olive/brown edging. Their tail is green with red at the base. Their bill is dark grey with red at the base. Their eye ring is pale grey and their eyes are dark brown.
menstruusReichenow’s blue-headed parrotreichenowiBoth adults have a blue head and neck with a darker blue throat. They have green lower underparts washed with blue. They also have red undertail coverts tipped with blue.
menstruusPaler blue-headed parrotrubrigularisBoth adults are similar to menstruus, but the blue head and neck are duller. There is more red on the throat with darker green upperparts.
maximilianiScaly-headed Parrot4maximilianiBoth adults are in general a dull green with paler underparts of bronze/brown, with feathers margined dusty brown. They have green/black forehead and lores with a dull blue chin and band across the throat. They have red undertail coverts tipped with blue and yellow/green. Their tail is green with red at the base. Their bill is dull yellow with dark grey at the base. The eye ring is bare and white with grey spot in front of and behind the eye. Their eyes are dark brown.
maximilianiScaly-headed ParrotmelanoblepharusBoth adults have a band on the chin and a darker blue throat. They have darker green back and underparts and are larger in size.
maximilianiScaly-headed ParrotsiyBoth adults are similar to melanoblepharus, but they have a blue/purple chin and throat band. Some upper breast feathers have red bases. They also have a bronze/green back and with pale underparts.
maximilianiScaly-headed ParrotlacerusBoth adults are similar to siy, but they have a deeper blue and more extensive throat band.
fuscusDusky Parrot0fuscusBoth adults have a grey/blue head with a red spot on both sides of forehead. Their ear coverts are black and the feathers of the throat and neck are tipped with dusty white.The chin is brown/blue and the feathers are edged with pink. The upperparts are dark brown with pale margins on the feathers. The brown feathers are edged purple/red or red/blue. Their under tail coverts are red. The tail is dark blue with red at the base. Their bill is dark grey with yellow at the base. Their eye ring is bare and pale grey and their eyes are brown.
chalcopterusBronze-winged Parrot0chalcopterusBoth adults are dark purple/blue in color with a bronze/brown neck and head. Their feathers are widely tipped with dark purple/blue. They have a white chin with dull pink edging on feathers of foreneck, producing a wide band. They have a bronze/green upper back, mantle, and scapulars. They have a deep blue rump and lower back with red undertail coverts. They have bronze/brown upper wing coverts and tertials with a dark blue tail with red at the base. Their bill is yellow and their eye ring is bare and brown/pink. Their eyes are brown.

Pionus Geographic Distribution

SpeciesCommon NameRegion
tumultuosusPlum-crowned ParrotMountains of central and south Peru, south from Carpish region, Huanuco, to north Bolivia, in La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz.
sordidusRed-billed ParrotP.s. sordidus: Highlands of northwest Venezuela. P.s. antelius: Highlands of northeast Venezuela.
P.s. ponsi: northwest Venezuela and north Colombia.
P.s. saturatus: Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta district, north Colombia.
P.s. corallinus: Eastern slope of Cordillera Oriental in Colombia south to Andean slopes in Ecuador and north Peru, and east Andean slope in west Bolivia.
seniloidesWhite-capped ParrotMountains of west Venezuela, from Tachira and Merida to Trujillo-Lara border, through west Colombia; in Cordilla Occidental reported only locally on eastern slope of Rio Cauca valley, southwest Antioquia and south on both slopes of Andes in Ecuador to northwest Peru, in Cajamarca and La Libertad.
senilisWhite-crowned ParrotCentral America, mostly Caribbean slope from south Tamaulipas and east San Luis Potosi, southeast Mexico, to central Costa Rica, and both slopes from central Costa Rica to west Panama, in west Chiriqui and west Bocas del Toro.
menstruusBlue-headed ParrotP.m. menstruus: Trinidad, Guianas, and Venezuela to east Colombia, east Ecuador, and east Peru south to central Bolivia, and Amazonian Brazil.
P.m. reichenowi: east Brazil.
P.m. rubrigularis: south Costa Rica and Panama to west Colombia and west Ecuador.
maximilianiScaly-headed ParrotP.m. maximiliani: northeast Brazil, from Ceara, Piaui and south Maranhao south to Espirito Santo, central Minas Gerais, and south Goias.
P.m. melanoblepharus: central Brazil, from south Goias and southern Minas Gerais, south to east Paraguay and northeast Argentina, in Misiones and Corrientes.
P.m. siy: Mato Grosso, Brazil, to central Bolivia, Paraguay and north Argentina, in Formosa and Chaco.
P.m. lacerus: northwest Argentina, in Catamarca and Tucuman to south Salta and werst Chaco
fuscusDusky ParrotEast Venezuela, along lower Rio Caura and Sierra de Imataca to upper Rio Cuyuni and Sierra de Lema, north Bolivar, and Guianas to northeast Brazil, north of the Amazon River from Amapa inland to Rio Negro and south of Amazon River from northwest Maranhao inland to lower Rio Madeira; also on western slopes of Sierra de Perija, Guajira, north Colombia.
chalcopterusBronze-winged ParrotNorthwest Venezuela, in Sierra de Perija, Zulia and mountains of east Tachira and west Merida and west Colombia, in Sierra de Perija, Guajira and in isolated pockets through Andean cordilleras, on western slope of Cordillera Occidental south from Rio Atrato, to both slopes of Andes in west Ecuador, and to northwest Peru, Tumbes and Piura.

Pionus Body Metrics

SpeciesCommon NameWeight (g)Size (cm)
tumultuosusPlum-crowned Parrot25029
sordidusRed-billed Parrot255-27528
seniloidesWhite-capped Parrot22930
senilisWhite-crowned Parrot193-22924
menstruusBlue-headed Parrot234-29528
maximilianiScaly-headed Parrot233-29329
fuscusDusky Parrot179-22226
chalcopterusBronze-winged Parrot21029

Pionus Habitat

SpeciesCommon NameHabitatFlock Size
tumultuosusPlum-crowned ParrotFound from 1400 to 3300m (4592-10,824 ft) in humid forest in the subtropical zone and tall cloud forest with bamboo thickets; in temperate zone in elfin woodland, wooded ravines and open areas with trees.Social
sordidusRed-billed ParrotFound from 350-2000m (1148-6560 ft) in humid forest, including montane rainforest and cloud forest, in subtropical and upper tropical zones. Often found in secondary growth, partially deforested areas with scattered tall trees and sometimes light woodland near coffee plantations.50
seniloidesWhite-capped ParrotFound from 1500-3200m (4920-10,496 ft) in montane forest and forest margins; also high cloud forest or stunted trees bordering paramos.20 (prefers cloudy weather)
senilisWhite-crowned ParrotFound up to 2300m (7544 ft) in mainly humid forest and woodland but also in local pine-oak forests, savanna and moist lower montane growth. Also has been reported from woodland and forest edge, cultivated areas and pastures with scattered trees, plantations, secondary growth and wooded streams.Pairs or small flocks. Occasionally hundreds.
menstruusBlue-headed ParrotFound up to 1100m (3608 ft) in lowland tropical forest, including rainforest, deciduous and savanna; subtropical formations, cultivated areas, plantations, clearings with trees, secondary growth forest and seasonally in dry caatinga forest in Brazil.Social and boisterous
maximilianiScaly-headed ParrotFound up to 2000m (6560 ft) in various habitats from lowland dry forest to dry caatinga and seasonal cerrado savannas. Also found in more humid forest such as gallery woodland and Araucaria sp. forest and subtropical forests on east AndeanLarge Flock
fuscusDusky ParrotChiefly lowland rainforest and humid forest in foothills; terra firme forest, várzea and igapo (permanently flooded forest). Also seen in savanna, coastal gallery forest and cultivated areas. Found up to 1200m (3936 ft).Groups
chalcopterusBronze-winged ParrotFound from 900-2800m (2952-9184 ft) in mainly humid and wet upland and montane forest; also seen in drier deciduous areas on west Andean slope, in forest edge and partly cleared areas with scattered trees.Social

Pionus Diet

SpeciesCommon NameWild Food Staple
tumultuosusPlum-crowned ParrotFruits, seeds, and may take crops.
sordidusRed-billed ParrotFruits, berries, and seeds.
seniloidesWhite-capped ParrotSeeds, fruits, and sometimes maize.
senilisWhite-crowned ParrotRipening seeds, palm fruits and sometimes cultivated crops
menstruusBlue-headed ParrotVarious seeds, fruits, and flowers
maximilianiScaly-headed ParrotErythina, Inga, Piptadenia, Copaifera, Croton, Pachystroma, Plathymenia reticulata, Ficus and Araucaria species plants.
fuscusDusky ParrotSeeds of Eschweilera and Micropholis species.
chalcopterusBronze-winged ParrotFruits, particularly Ficus species.

Pionus Reproduction

SpeciesCommon NameBreeding SeasonClutch
tumultuosusPlum-crowned ParrotBegins November4
sordidusRed-billed ParrotFebruary-April in Colombia, January-May in Venezuela, and October in Bolivia.3
seniloidesWhite-capped ParrotNovember-December4
senilisWhite-crowned ParrotMarch in Mexico and January-April in Costa Rica.4-6
menstruusBlue-headed ParrotFebruary-April in Panama, February-March in Colombia, February in Venezuela, March and October in Trinidad, and February-May in Ecuador.3-4
maximilianiScaly-headed ParrotOctober4-5
fuscusDusky ParrotFebruary-May4
chalcopterusBronze-winged ParrotMarch-May3-4

Pionus Chicks

SpeciesCommon NameIncubation Period (Days)Time to Fledge (Weeks)
tumultuosusPlum-crowned Parrot279-10
sordidusRed-billed Parrot269-10
seniloidesWhite-capped Parrot26-289-10
senilisWhite-crowned Parrot268
menstruusBlue-headed Parrot2610
maximilianiScaly-headed Parrot269-10
fuscusDusky Parrot26-289-10
chalcopterusBronze-winged Parrot279

Pionus Conservation Status

SpeciesCommon NameStatusThreat Summary
tumultuosusPlum-crowned ParrotLeast ConcernPossible decline in some areas due to deforestation.
sordidusRed-billed ParrotLeast ConcernProbably in decline locally due to deforestation.
seniloidesWhite-capped ParrotLeast ConcernSome evidence of decline due to deforestation.
senilisWhite-crowned ParrotLeast ConcernPersecution as crop pest, hunting for food and deforestation, however; no serious decline in numbers has been reported.
menstruusBlue-headed ParrotLeast ConcernDeclining in some areas (east Brazil) due to deforestation and some illegal trade. The Blue-headed Parrot will most likely lose up to 23% of suitable habitat within its range over 20 years based on a model of Amazonian deforestation. Its population will be expected to decline by <25% over three generations.
maximilianiScaly-headed ParrotLeast ConcernDecline in some parts of range (north Argentina) due to wild bird trade. Elsewhere less numerous because of habitat loss. Since 1981 there have been 93,234 individuals traded on the international market.
fuscusDusky ParrotLeast ConcernSevere deforestation in parts of its range may be affecting population numbers.
chalcopterusBronze-winged ParrotLeast ConcernHas suffered declines in some areas due to rapid clearance of subtropical forest.

All information gathered from World Parrot Trust

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