This large Amazon parrot is endemic to South America’s tropical areas. It can easily be confused with Blue-fronted amazons, but the Orange-winged amazons, as per their name, are the only amazons with orange wing feathers. Males and females look similar, but the male has more of a blue forehead while the female has more yellow on her face.
The Orange-winged amazon lives and breeds in tropical regions of South America, from Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago south to Peru, central Brazil and Bolivia, inhabiting lowlands, mangroves and swampy forests, gallery forests and savannahs that have scattered trees, and drier woodlands as well.
Orange-winged amazons are strictly diurnal and active at early morning and late in the afternoon, often in mixed groups with other Amazona species. A very social species, always found in pair or in large groups. In the daytime, pairs are usually seen flying high between roosts and feeding places. These parrots are noisy, conspicuous, and very gregarious, gathering in large flocks at communal roosts outside of the breeding season. They make loud screams on arrival or when leaving the roost, first gathering in nearby trees before perching for the night to roost, often many hundreds together. The numbers at the roost decline during the breeding season. They often are found high up in trees or in the canopy. When not feeding, these birds, like other parrots, chew bark or wood to keep their beak in good condition, being their main “tool” for eating and for climbing around branches. An Orange-winged amazon utters a wide range of squawks and whistles while it is perched. When flying they make a shrill and high-pitched “kee-wik…kee-wik…kee-wik…kee-wik”, and also a repeated “klee-ak”.
Orange-winged amazons are monogamous and form life lasting pair bonds. The breeding season varies, depending on the location. They are solitary nesters, and their nest is a hole high in a tree. 2 to 5 white eggs are laid and incubation is for about 21 days, just by the female. During the day, the male stays near the nest, roosting at the communal roost at night. Both parents feed the chicks, which fledge when they are about two months old. Young reach reproductive maturity when they are 3 to 4 years old.
The Orange-winged amazon is common and widespread over most parts of its range. However, being game birds, it is permitted to hunt them during some periods. In French Guyana, hunting has been excessive for some years. Adults are killed for meat, and young are captured and raised for trade. These birds are common as cage birds and heavily trapped for trade. Deforestation in some parts of their range also causes a decline in populations.
According to IUCN, the Orange-winged amazon is fairly common throughout its large range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List, but its numbers today are decreasing.
Due to its diet, this species is an important seed predator and seed disperser.