Deroptyus accipitrinus................ ............................By Gideon Scheepers


The most interesting characteristics of these parrots are the feathers on the nape. When the bird is excited it raises these feathers in a fan shape around the head, resembling the head-dress of a native American Indian chief. Hawkheads are known as "Red Fan" parrots in South America. The scalloped feathers in the Hawkhead's head-dress, are similar to that of the crest feathers of some hawks, hence the name.

The crest is usually down, only raising it when threatened. I have seen Hawkheads display their crest feathers during courtship on two occasions only. The Hawkhead's crest doubles the size of the head and this is quite intimidating to any would-be offenders.

Range & Habitat

Hawkheads are found in Guyana, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia and extends to the north-eastern part of the Brazilian Amazon River basin. Here, the nominate race, Deroptyus accipitrinus accipitrinus occurs north of the Amazon, and the D. a. fuscifrons lives south of the Amazon.

The two subspecies of the Hawkheaded Parrot are, the buff-crowned Hawkhead, which is the smaller race and it, has whitish streaked feathers on the tops and sides of its head. Its forehead is dusty white, this is the nominate race. Deroptyus a accipitrinus, and is the race most often seen in Aviculture. The Brazilian Hawkhead, D. a. fuscifrons, has a much darker crown than the Buff-crowned, and its colours are brighter.

Although distributed throughout a large portion of South America, Hawkheads prefer to live in pairs or in small groups. Hawkheads nest in cavities or holes found in trees. They also roost in tree hollows at night.

Breeding in Aviculture

Hawkheads have been bred successfully in both suspended and conventional aviaries. Hawkheads usually do not eat on the ground so it is not necessary to have conventional aviaries.

Hawkheads are not the easiest parrots to get to breed in Aviculture, but when a pair does go to nest, they are usually quite prolific. Pairs should not be placed too close to each other, as the males tend to be territorial in breeding season. Aviary bred Hawkheads breed better in close proximity than do wild-caught pairs.

If you want to breed handreared Hawkheads, they should be handled as little as possible and reared along with other young Hawkheads or parrots and they will reproduce in Aviculture.

There should always be a nestbox available to Hawkheads as they roost in them at night. Most American breeders supply their Hawkheads with vertical nest boxes. The standard size is 30 cm square by 60cm to 45cm in depth. Breeders are now using narrower 25cm square nest boxes of similar heights with great success. Other types of nest boxes used include 1.8 m X 30 cm X 50 cm boot-shaped and slanted boxes, natural logs, which they seem to like.

Hawkheads usually lay two eggs, but often rear only one chick. Hawkheads may lay two to three clutches in the same breeding season. They can become extremely aggressive during breeding season, and will attack anybody entering their aviary. Keep nest inspections to a minimum as the hen does get off the eggs when disturbed.

Pet Quality

Young handreared Hawkheads make great pets. They have charming personalities. They are intelligent, affectionate and playful, and even learn to talk. They are real comics, and can entertain themselves (and you) for hours, with their playfulness. They remind me of kittens, always trying their luck.



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