• Welcome to Avian Avenue! To view our forum with less advertisments please register with us.
    Memberships are free and it will just take a moment. Click here

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Pionus Parrots

JosienBB

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
3/25/13
Messages
6,991
Location
Ontario, Canada
Hello. My name is Danelle, and as we're currently researching birds, I found this thread and am glad I did.

Our fourteen-year-old daughter is a "bird person" and, as her beloved bantam hen recently passed, she is now wanting to move up to something more advanced. We've been talking to avian specialists and pet store folks, and are being steered toward either a pionus or a crimson-bellied conure.

We have a fairly busy house, as we have four high-energy German Shorthaired Pointers that like to "monitor the street" and bark. They are velcro dogs, and bring me much love and joy. All were fine with the bantam hen being i the house, and one even lets the chickens ride around on his back.

Anyhow, I've been told that pionuses (we're considering a white-capped one) rarely bite, are quiet, are good "starter birds," are not as demanding of attention as some of the other parrots, and are family as opposed to one-person birds. Yet, the comments in this thread seem to dispute what I'm being told; the last thing I want is a bird that bites whenever it's annoyed or jealous, and hard enough to draw blood, at that.

We've also been told to consider a green-cheeked conure (and are looking at a crimson bellied conure), but I've been told they are loud and noisy and constantly chirp ... we want something quiet, as our dogs are, indeed, "bird dogs," and chirpy-birds will "flip a switch" in their heads and make them berserk.

Tonight, we visited a pet store that had hand-raised birds, and visited with a newly-weaned white capped pionus (or is it white crowned? it was a male, and the front half of its forehead was white and the rest of it was greenish) as well as two blue-headed pionuses. We also took out and played with a crimson bellied conure, also a very young bird. The white capped pionus was quite quiet, very curious, happy to sit on my finger and then move sideways up my arm to get onto my shoulder. He bit me once, but not terribly hard. He was very curious and interactive, but I did notice that when my daughter held him, he kept trying to get back over to me ... as this is to be her bird, it worried me that he was showing a preference for me. He seemed to have more "character" than the conure, but he also pooped a LOT.

The two blue-headed pionuses were both flighty and skittish, and one of them bit me hard enough to draw blood.

The green cheeked/crimson bellied conure, also a young bird, was extremely quiet. He/she sat on my finger and also my daughter's finger, but didn't seem quite as confident or curious as the white capped pionus. A very, very sweet bird that never uttered a sound and never pooped.

We were inclined to get the crimson bellied conure, but an avian person told me that even though this young bird was quiet in the store and in the visiting room, it would likely become very chirpy and noisy once we got it home, it matured, and grew comfortable here in its surroundings; he also said it would not be as confident around the dogs as a pionus would be.

I was inclined to go for the pionus ... until I found the comments in this forum, many of which talked about these birds being "one person" birds and also biting hard enough to do some real damage. I don't want a biting bird. And yet, I don't want one that will set off our dogs, either, by lots of "bird noises."

I would love to hear thoughts, and apologize if this is the wrong thread for my post. I'm new here!

Many thanks,

-- Danelle

I think you'll find it very difficult to find a bird that is quiet... birds are generally loud by nature. And small conures are usually very nippy by nature. I would hate to see a bird get rehomed doing something that is natural to them. Also, mixing predator and prey animals is a really bad idea and a disaster waiting to happen, regardless of how well you think you know your dog. Once again, it's the natural thing. There is also no such thing as a starter bird. I hear that female pionus are generally sweeter than males, but that's a general statement and no guarantee to be your case.

Perhaps another bantam? Or if you're really set on a parrot, then visit a rescue and adopt an adult who is already and quiet, non-nippy, non-one person bird. Or perhaps consider a lineolated parakeet (linnie). I hear they're generally very quiet, shy and reserved. It would take a lot of work on your part to keep the bird tame though, due to their more shy nature.
 

JosienBB

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
3/25/13
Messages
6,991
Location
Ontario, Canada
I think you'll find it very difficult to find a bird that is quiet... birds are generally loud by nature. And small conures are usually very nippy by nature. I would hate to see a bird get rehomed doing something that is natural to them. Also, mixing predator and prey animals is a really bad idea and a disaster waiting to happen, regardless of how well you think you know your dog. Once again, it's the natural thing. There is also no such thing as a starter bird. I hear that female pionus are generally sweeter than males, but that's a general statement and no guarantee to be your case.

Perhaps another bantam? Or if you're really set on a parrot, then visit a rescue and adopt an adult who is already and quiet, non-nippy, non-one person bird. Or perhaps consider a lineolated parakeet (linnie). I hear they're generally very quiet, shy and reserved. It would take a lot of work on your part to keep the bird tame though, due to their more shy nature.
Another bird I would recommend - a hand-tamed bourke's parakeet. Those are said to be very quiet and generally sweet.

Linnie - small bird, but very cute, comes in different colour mutations


Bourke's - also small bird, different colour mutations
 

Maxsmom

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Joined
8/18/12
Messages
6,800
To add...all birds need significant out of cage time each day.....3 hours

I know a few people who simply keep their parrot mostly in its cage because of the dog.....not fair to parrot...unhealthy and parrot will develop behavioral issues.....screaming and biting
 
Last edited:

Maxsmom

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Joined
8/18/12
Messages
6,800
Danelle

When I got my pionus I remember being shocked. He did not fit description I had heard prior to purchase. I was committed to making it work so I made adjustments. Kudos again to you for researching better than me in advance
 

Lisidou

Sprinting down the street
Avenue Veteran
Joined
7/25/14
Messages
313
Location
Memphis Area
Real Name
Lisa
I will chime in with support for Pionus. We have a White Cap female (Grady) who is 4 years now and a Blue Head (Lilly) who is 6 months. We got bothe of them very young and they are wonderful sweet birds. Grady, the older one is such a delight. She is very quiet, and doesn't have an aggressive bone in her sweet little body. She is very attached to one of my daughters but seems to prefer me the most. She also like my other daughter.....when strangers try to pick her up she tries her best to evade their finger mainly by moving away but if they persist and command her to "step up" she will. She doesn't try to bite. I think she is just an amazing sweet angel. She is very much a perch potato who prefers to be just as near us as possible at all time. Wouldn't give her up for anything!
The BH is in her young and wild play play play stage. She is a little noisier than very quiet Grady but it is squeaky noises where I believe she is mimicking the Caique that my younger daughter has that stays with us when she is home on break from school. Lilly is also very sweet but not as much of a snuggler as Grady is.
Without a doubt, I say a Pionus is the best pet. They have the sweetest smell to their breath too.....it's an Amazon thing I think I have read.
What we have between my daughters and myself are, 1 Blue Front Amazon that I have had for 28 years, 2 Pionus and the Caique.
If anyone would ask me my suggestion and they wanted calm and sweet, I would hands down say Pionus!
All birds can and will bite and Grady went through a biting stage between 2 and 3 years old if I remember correctly but we didn't allow it to escalate or become an issue and she is definitely not a biter at all now.
Amazon will bite anyone without a doubt except me usually, but I know when he is capable.
My suggestion is to find a reputable place that will hand raise a Pionus for you and let you have it after weaning. Best if it is at a place close so you can visit, interact and get to know it.
I have purchased 3 of our 4 birds from the same place and she did a great job socializing them.
Country singer Rodney Atkins bought his birds from her too. She is right outside of Nashville if you are anywhere near there....
Pionus= YES! But you have to go with what is best for your situation and be ready for a long term commitment!
 

Maxsmom

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Joined
8/18/12
Messages
6,800
Agree Pionus are terrific. Female probably more terrific than male, but terrific birds. Just needs to be terrific for individual owner as you have said :) .
 

Robin8888

Sprinting down the street
Joined
12/22/16
Messages
408
Location
Nevada
Real Name
Robin
Tiki is not playful. She will chew on some chewables - paper, cardboard rolls, some balsa lately. She is more snuggly than playful.
I agree they are not very playful but like to just hang out. They are quiet birds. Mine doesn't even really play with the toys anymore but he is about 15.
 

Robin8888

Sprinting down the street
Joined
12/22/16
Messages
408
Location
Nevada
Real Name
Robin
I have a Bronzed Wing Pionus (Murphy) Not DNA'd & don't know a hatch date. We got him in 2001/2002 (getting old don't remember) LOL
We took my daughter with Autism to the bird store & he went right to her & she loved him. I didn't asked how old when I got him (assumed he was a baby but don't know how long he was in the bird store) so not sure but we still have him.

GOOD: He is so sweet, very quiet, never bites & I can put my finger right in his beak & it doesn't hurt at all.
I would get another Pi any day. I would love to get a blue head Pi but the bronzed wing are beautiful too.
They have such pretty colors under their wings & their feather are an iridescent color. He looks different color in different lighting.
His favorite is apples & he will ask for them. He can say Hello, Night Night, Apple. His words are not really clear but I can make it out.

BAD/UGLY: He went through a period were he plucked almost all of his feathers off. I have changed his diet & they are coming back but still patchy.
He likes to just hangout in or on top of his cage. If he gets away from his cage he gets very nervous.
I can't say anything bad about my Pi.

EDIT: I forgot to say he hates any phone (home phone or cell) will go into attack mode if you go near him with a phone. And don't try to take his picture. I have very few pictures of him because of that. Even if I try can't get a good picture because of him trying to attack the cell phone. LOL Camera shy bird.
 
Last edited:

javi

Jogging around the block
Avenue Veteran
Joined
4/17/11
Messages
918
Real Name
JAVI
Loved reading through this. I have two white capped pionus and will be picking up a maxi this weekend. I fell for pi's about 20 years ago when I went to buy my first conure. The breeder had a few baby white caps in a nearby cage and I was fascinated. I then spent the next 14 years longing for one. When I decided to take the plunge I went on a nation wide search before finding a breeder of white caps in Florida that would ship to me in Texas. That is my female Mattie and she just turned 6 a couple of months ago. I fell in love and started looking for another almost instantly. After almost 4 years I found a 9 year old male white cap that had been bounced around and located about 7 hours from me. I had a breeder friend pick up bird for me and met her about 3 hours from me. His name is Apple and he is a very nervous bird. Not aggressive, just easily spooked. Of course my Mattie has tried to kill him every chance she gets so they are only allowed out at separate times. Surprisingly she can tolerate him when they are in shower with me. By far my female is more aggressive and dominant than my male. That just goes to prove that generalizations are not always true. The new Pi was picked up by a friend of mine from a mutual breeder friend. Need to send the DNA off but he/she is a 6 month old Maxi pi. Apparently a big talker already, which does not matter really.
I will say that they are actually very lazy birds but do like to chew on stuff. They can scream and will when I get home and don't hurry to greet them. It can be loud but it is not frequent and I much prefer to a sun conure scream. Mattie did just go broody a few months ago which was interesting and annoying as she was flipping all her bowls and shredding paper. Luckily it stopped within last few weeks. Apple has never shown any hormonal behaviors which I find fascinating. They are also very good eaters. Devouring pellets, sprouts, veggies, fruits, pasta and just about anything they can get their hands on. In fact Apple gets real excited whenever I am eating chips, his previous owners let him have. I know they are terrible but once every other month or so I will let him have a small piece. Luckily he is content with a piece of the peanut butter sandwich. They can be cage aggressive sometimes
 

baserock love

Strolling the yard
Joined
5/15/17
Messages
143
Real Name
Colin
I've had my bronze wing pionus Gamera now for about 4.5 months or so, she's now bonded to me and I have a great feel for her mannerisms and personality so I think i can weigh in. She's 2 or 3, unsexed.

Good: Incredibly easy to train. Would lunge at me and do loud calls for me if I wasn't in the room. It took me only a few weeks to train all of that out of her and now she's the most docile and quiet parrot I've ever seen. Very vocal but not loud at all. She's learned now that biting and loud behavior get her nowhere and being cute and friendly and cute sounds get her all kinds of treats. She's incredibly sweet, loves to be scritched, has bonded strongly with me, loves to be my constant companion but is also very independent. She's just as happy in her cage by herself almost as she is sitting on my shoulder watching me work and watching youtube with me. When I told people i wanted a parrot that didn't bite and wasn't loud people said get a dog, but that's what I have now and I couldn't be happier. She's not destructive at all, is already picking up paper training fast and starting to talk a little.

Bad: She's a total wuss. She is frightened of EVERYTHING till I spend quite a bit of effort to convince her it's not going to kill and eat her. WE're working on all her weird irrational fears but she doesn't really play because she's too afraid of toys, I can't like put her on my bed and play with her because she's frightened of the bed, and the ground, and the couches, and all the furniture in the house, and baths, and everything that's not food, one of her introduced perches and her cage. The good thing is that she doesn't get into everything, doesn't go to places i dont' want her to be, doesn't crap where i don't want her to crap etc.

Ugly: Honestly nothing. Soon as I get her flight and harness trained and paper trained she will be pretty much the perfect companion parrot. She's an absolute joy. IMAG0324_1.jpg
 

Randall

Checking out the neighborhood
Joined
7/9/18
Messages
1
The good. Most everything. I have had him for 13 years. He is quiet, calm, curious, affectionate. No health issues. No tantrums but he will let you know when he is unhappy by biting. He is a good companion- quiet but playful.

The bad. He does not like other people. He has an unrequited love for my border terrier. He will bite if he is upset. However it is quite obvious when he is agitated and you are foolish to bother him then. He will try to correct my behavior so I cannot allow him to shoulder ride because I need to be qued into his mood. One good ear bite taught me that. He doesn't bite often but he means business when he does. He is a parrot and that is their way.
 

Attachments

Karnkate

Rollerblading along the road
Avenue Veteran
Joined
4/6/14
Messages
1,295
Location
Bangkok, TH
Real Name
Karnkate (Lookkaew/Crystal)
Does anyone has or has had expereinces with the Blue Headed Pionus?
I’ve always wanted a larger bird. After narrowing down my search, the pionus, poicephalus, and some small zons seem to fit the bill the most.
Unfortunately in my country the White Capped and the Bronze Winged Pionus are so rare that I practically give up finding them and settle for the Blue Headed instead. However not many members talk about the blue headed here. I wanna learn more about them.
 

Wannabird2003

Meeting neighbors
Avenue Veteran
Joined
5/10/16
Messages
71
Location
Florida
Real Name
Karen Z
I have a BH Female who I got as a baby at 16 weeks when she was fully weaned. She is now 16 yrs old. It is just me and her and she is obviously very bonded to me. She does not like other people. She doesn't bite, but will run away and hide. The only other person she will go to is her bird sitter when she has to because I am not around. She is very quiet for the most part doing little occasional clucks and trills and she does talk some in her gravely little voice. She can belt out a loud scream when I am out of the room and she doesn't know where I am. She is very attune to routines and has her favorite toys and foods and such. She likes to nap in the afternoon when I am usually gone on errands and she can and does play by herself . She also likes to spend some time on me when I am on the computer or sitting on my chair watching tv. She loves head scratches when SHE is in the mood and will solicit them sometimes. She wants to go to bed when the sun sets and I cover her cage which is in the living room. The tv does not bother her. She will sleep quietly until I wake up and would even sleep to noon if I let her.

I think the thing I like is the relative quietness and the fact that she can amuse herself, but yet she does have some time where she wants to snuggle and be scratched and loved on.
 

Nir

Sprinting down the street
Avenue Veteran
Joined
8/10/12
Messages
409
As I am researching and reading this, I am very confused. Just about everything I have read in the past suggests that pionus are not really cuddly and don't like getting head scratches much and shy away from hands. That kind of saddened me because I am used to a Senegal parrot who I can do just about anything with. However, I still want a Pionus because they are independent and said to get along with most.

However, most reviews here I have read here says their Pionus loves head scratches and is cuddly. Is this the norm or are you guys all lucky? I would love him either way obviously but a bird that does like being petted who also likes being independent seems like a wish come true. And also quiet for 95% of the times? What? If a few liked to be cuddle I can get but just about everyone's is cuddly here. Are all the things I have read wrong or is it all because most of the readers here have better training and earned their trust?
 
Last edited:

finchly

Cruising the avenue
Avenue Veteran
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
5/16/14
Messages
12,609
Location
SW Florida
Real Name
Finchly
As I am researching and reading this, I am very confused. Just about everything I have read in the past suggests that pionus are not really cuddly and don't like getting head scratches much and shy away from hands. That kind of saddened me because I am used to a Senegal parrot who I can do just about anything with. However, I still want a Pionus because they are independent and said to get along with most.

However, most reviews here I have read here says their Pionus loves head scratches and is cuddly. Is this the norm or are you guys all lucky? I would love him either way obviously but a bird that does like being petted who also likes being independent seems like a wish come true. And also quiet for 95% of the times? What? If a few liked to be cuddle I can get but just about everyone's is cuddly here. Are all the things I have read wrong or is it all because most of the readers here have better training and earned their trust?
Hello Nir, mine likes head scratches when HE asks for them, not when I offer. He does not cuddle although (again when HE chooses) he will ride quietly on my shoulder. He is quiet, in that he doesn't make much noise and quiet, in that his voice is very very soft. His cage is always open; he never leaves his domain, although he will go partway down the ladder, occasionally down to the floor right below his cage, and will go to the play top.
He also has just started taking a walnut from my hand regularly, and it's been 5 years. He was a rescue.
 

HeatherD

Meeting neighbors
Joined
7/10/18
Messages
37
My blue-headed pionus is a little over a year old now. I've had her since she was weaned.

Good:
She is really friendly, I think possibly more so than a normal pionus. I always get comments at the vet about how friendly she is, and how surprised they are that she lets them pet her. I think this might be partially because she was socialized well by the bird store. When I take her out for walks around the neighborhood on her harness, she is nervous around new people but lets them pet her. She will let me do anything with her. For example I've read that pionus don't really like being on their backs, but she'll let me hold her on her back. She'll even hang from my hand with one foot, just complete trust. She loves any sort of attention from me, and will make really cute happy sounds if I talk to her, pet her foot, hand her food, or give her a lot of attention.
She gets along very well with other birds, never wants to attack, will just run away if upset. For this reason, I wouldn't make her hang out with a pushy bird. She only ever acts agressive toward me if I'm wearing a particular black headset that I own lol, but if I take it off she's fine. Even if I accidentally try to pick her up when I have it on, she'll just warn me, never actually bite. She only drew blood once, and that was because she was scared of something and I tried to grab her so she didn't fall. I think she just bit too hard by accident. It was barely worse than a papercut. She does really enjoy "play fighting" where I pull super lightly on one of her feathers, then she beak-wrestles my finger (usually ends up preening my cuticle at the end lol). She also likes playing tug-of-war with me with paper plate pieces.
She likes to play and climb/zoom around, but she's afraid of the floor and new places. So, I put her cage right next to the couch, and she runs around on the back of the couch and will sit behind my head. I can put her on my shoulder and take her off no problem, and she will sit on my knee also and be happy to hang out. She doesn't usually like normal petting, but seems to like her head scratched roughly during molting, at least. She never gets upset about me touching her head or tries to stop me, though. If she has a lot of new feathers growing in, she'll lower her head for me to preen them sometimes.
I let her flight feathers grow out, so I've done a bunch of in-home flight training with her. She is highly motivated by snacks, so she will fly to me really easily on cue since I give her a treat for it. She's pretty difficult to train to do advanced tricks (i.e. fetch a ball), mostly because she gets so excited about getting a treat that she just starts begging for one lol. But this trait makes it super easy to train her for simple things, since she goes absolutely crazy over treats.

Bad:
Nothing bad. The worst thing she does is yip when she wants yummy food. She doesn't scream, she just makes this "yip yip yip" noise like a little dog or something anytime she sees me enter the kitchen, or if I walk away while she's on the couch (she only feels safe on the couch if I'm sitting there). I trained her to make a click/cluck type of sound instead of the yip, but she gets super excited about the idea of snacks, and some yips always come out anyway lol. If she's not a big fan of the food in her bowl, she'll do the yipping and hang on the side of her cage by her beak with her feet dangling lol. She has only ever been slightly louder when scared (i.e. the first time she was toweled by a vet). She's not loud at all, very quiet.

Overall, my experience has been that my pionus is an extremely easy bird to own and makes a great companion. I think I might've just been very lucky and gotten an amazing bird, but these forums helped me pick out what bird to get so I figured I'd post in case it helps someone else out :)
 

dee2039

Checking out the neighborhood
Joined
9/15/20
Messages
1
I live in an apartment and have 2 Pionus (blue head and bronze wing) plus a green cheek conure and 4 parakeets. The first pionus was my older blue head who was fairly quiet until my green cheek taught him to yell. Both my boys are fairly quiet although the bronze wing is more vocal but he is only 18 mo old. Ususally there is a little flock calling in the morning but that is about it.
Any pros and cons between the two pionus? We are considering either but prefer a male because I've been through egg laying with my lovebird and it was very rough and stressful for everyone, esp my baby.
 

jh81

Rollerblading along the road
Avenue Veteran
Joined
8/13/15
Messages
2,221
Location
Arnhem, Netherlands
Real Name
Jan
So...

i have experience with an Amazon, a Grey and a Senegal.. and for me the Pionus wins hands on.

as someone who experiences depressions on and off, i have found that the Pionus is a perfect bird.
I have rescued 4 Pionusses, unfortunatly two have died :(

my Maxi’s are generally quiet, just doing “small talk” most of the day. Only when i turn up the volume and start singing, they get excited and make some noise. Obviously thats how i like it :)

They seem to like to do their own thing. One of them (Max) will come flying to me when he wants atention, this happens between one and three times a day so far, and usually around half an hour. He will sit on my shoulder, preening and watching, and then go back to whatever it was he was doing before.

I find them easier when it comes to food regime. They seem curious to try new stuff. More so then other parrots.

Since January i have been “bitten” once. And it was because i had to force the bird to do something it clearly didn’t want. There was no skin breaking, and no blood.

one could argue i am addicted to the Pionus. They are, in my eyes, just perfect!
 
Top