Maximillian Pionus – Profile & Care Guide

Common nameMaximilian Pionus, scaly-headed parrot
Scientific namePionus maximiliani
Weight225-275 grams
Lifespan40 years
OriginBrazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, northern Argentina
Noise LevelLow (for a parrot)

Natural Habitat

Maximillian Pionus - Profile & Care Guide by Parrot Essentials

The Maximilian Pionus, scientifically known as Pionus maximiliani, is a colourful South American parrot species that boasts a rather wide natural range. It can be found in all of Brazil except the northwest, most of Bolivia and Paraguay, and a small part of northern Argentina.

In its natural range, the Maximilian Pionus is anything but picky about habitat as long as there are trees present. It pops up in a wide range of landscape types, including dry forests, savannahs, humid forests, and subtropical forests. In Argentina, it can be found at altitudes up to 2.000m (6.600ft).

Maximilian Pionus Intelligence & Personality

Pionus parrots, in general, are known for their intelligent and inquisitive nature, and the Maximilian is no exception. These birds have excellent memories and are highly trainable. Once they master a command like stepping up or “come here”, they’ll remember it for years to come.

Aside from being smart, these birds are also highly curious. They enjoy exploring their environment, and new toys or unfamiliar items easily entertain them. Your Maximilian Pionus will appreciate riding on your shoulder and getting involved in everything you do! It will need plenty of enrichment to avoid boredom.

Remember, parrots are not only intelligent but also highly social. They form strong bonds with their human family and constantly seek attention and interaction. The Maximilian parrot, known for its gentle and generally sweet nature, thrives when it becomes part of the family and gets ample attention.

Maximilian Pionus Talking Ability

The Maximilian Pionus isn’t known for being a champion talker. They can pick up easy words, simple tunes or household noises, but they’re unlikely to progress to full sentences or learn to speak clearly.

The reason this species isn’t the best at talking may be that it’s rather quiet for a parrot in general. Pionus parrots are gentle beings. Although they do make noise (no parrot is silent!), they don’t tend to scream or squawk. They do produce a variety of noises, though. You’ll quickly learn what each chirp and squeak means, helping you to connect with your bird and understand its needs.

Feeding & Nutrition for your Maximilian Pionus

Maximilian’s Pionus parrots eat a variety of wild fruits, seeds, flowers, and nectar in their natural habitat. They also seek out cultivated grains whenever available. It’s important to mimic this varied natural diet at home to maintain your bird’s health and well-being.

A well-balanced diet for your Maximilian’s Pionus should include high-quality parrot pellets as a base. Veterinarians agree that although they look bland, pellets are more nutritious than the classic seed mix. Quality brands include everything a parrot needs to thrive.

Of course, you should supplement your Maximilian’s daily portions of pellets with a variety of fresh produce. Offer lots of vegetables, some fresh fruits, (sprouted) seeds, cooked grains, treats like nuts, and more. This mix not only ensures your bird gets all the necessary nutrients but also helps keep mealtimes interesting and prevents boredom.

Always ensure that fresh, clean water is available for your bird. Just like their food, you need to change the water out daily to maintain hygiene. Additionally, clean both food and water dishes every day to ensure hygiene and prevent the buildup of bacteria.

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Housing for your Maximilian Pionus

When setting up a home for your Maximilian’s Pionus, remember that space is key. A recommended starting point for cage size is at least 75cm in length, 75cm in width, and 90cm in height, although bigger is almost always better when it comes to housing a parrot. The largest cage you can fit into your home is ideal. If possible, the cage should be arranged to allow the bird to fly from perch to perch.

If your parrot is going to spend a lot of time in its cage during the day, a flight cage or mini aviary is ideal. The extra space is essential for accommodating a variety of toys and for providing ample room for your bird to climb, move around, and play. Remember, many domestic parrots suffer from obesity, often in part because their cages are too small!

The spacing of the cage bars is another important aspect, with an ideal range being between 1.5cm and 2cm. This way, your Maximilian will be able to climb and play safely without the possibility of its head getting stuck between the bars.

No matter the size of the cage, it’s still crucial for the well-being of your bird to have time outside of it. Allowing your Maximilian’s Pionus at least a few hours of out-of-cage time each day is a must. Many owners find that a playpen or a parrot stand outside the cage provides a great space for their birds to hang out and socialize while they’re out.

Although people don’t typically know Pionus parrots for being strong chewers, it remains important to secure their cage and play area. These birds can display quite clever behaviour and may learn to open locks. Therefore, using escape-proof latches or locks might be necessary to ensure their safe containment.

Feather Plucking in Pionus Parrots

Maximilian’s Pionus parrots are generally not prone to behavioural problems such as feather plucking, which is often a sign of stress or discomfort in birds. However, like all parrot species, they are susceptible to boredom. This can lead to auto-mutilation and other unwanted behaviours.

If you suspect your Pionus is plucking, you should consult your avian vet. They will be able to rule out any physical causes and tell you more about the next steps for your bird.


  • There are three subspecies of Maximilian Pionus. They are Pionus maximiliani maximiliani, P. m. siy, P. m. lacerus, and P. m. melanoblepharus.
  • This parrot was named after Prince Alexander Philipp Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied from Germany, who led one of the first expeditions to Brazil in the early nineteenth century. Wied-Neuwid has several other animals and plants named after him, including a sunflower.
  • The IUCN Red List considers the Maximilian Pionus to be a species of Least Concern. However, it acknowledges heavy trading of the species and indicates a declining population trend.
  • Recordings show hybrids of Maximilian Pionus parrots and orange-winged Amazons (Amazona amazonica) in feral populations in Spain. This is highly unique, as these species belong to different genera, which would normally not be able to interbreed.


The Maximilian Pionus is an ideal pet for those who are looking for a beautiful, relatively quiet, and sweet-natured parrot. These birds have a unique way of communicating, from blinking their eyes affectionately to playful interactions like the ‘Pionus Strut.’ Most will enjoy a gentle head scratch and show their affection in their own charming ways.

Known for their independent nature, a Maximilian Pionus is usually content to keep itself busy with toys and food, which is great for owners who can’t provide constant attention. Their ability to amuse themselves, combined with their sweet demeanour, makes these parrots a good choice for a variety of families.

To view other Parrot Profiles & Care Guides, visit our Alphabetical list of Parrot Fact Sheets by visiting


Hernández-Brito, Dailos; Tella, José L; Carrete, Martina; Blanco, Guillermo (4 February 2021). “Successful hybridization between non-congeneric parrots in a small introduced population”. IBIS International Journal of Avian Science163 (3): 1093–1098. doi:10.1111/ibi.12936. S2CID 233929115. Retrieved 19 July 2021.

Parr, M., & Juniper, T. (2010). Parrots: a guide to parrots of the world. Bloomsbury Publishing.

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