Physiological Differences Between Vasa's and other Parrots

Head…(both greaters and lessers) feathers (aside from head feather loss of the females and some males during breeding season) the feathers will disintegrate upon molting as apposed to fall out creating bald patches and a ring of absent feathers around the neck, this can look like PBFD, but is normal. If a vasa has PBFD it is typical that they develop white feathers. Most parrots with abnormal white feathers indicates a liver problem, I do not know if this holds true for vasas.

Skull… I read that the vasa skull differs from other parrots and more closely resembles a lories skull, but I have not been able to find out the difference between a lories skull and other parrots.

Cere... Will change color from white to grey, to black depending on the time of the year. Their cere should also be soft to the touch much like skin and not hard, if it is hard chances are they are not getting proper nutrition.

Eye rings...Can change color on a daily basis, but typically color change follows the breeding cycle, from white to bluish grey, to yellow. The eye rings will appear larger during breeding season due to feather loss around the eyes.

Beak... (both greaters and lessers) Will change color as well but not all at once. The beak will develop dark spots which might look like an infection but it is normal, again beak can change from white to black in accordance with breeding. Black or dark brown for non breeding season, White for breeding season.

Mouth.... Vasas do not have dry mouths like other parrots! Their salivary gland are located much higher in their throats than other parrots making their mouth moist and sometimes smell. They are capable of having bad breath and drooling. Although they usually only drool when they see a favorite food item. Bad breath in other parrots could be indicative of an infection.

Crop…Their crop is much larger than other parrots! It is said that a baby vasa’s eats 3 times more formula than a green wing macaw chick the same age.

Sternum (breast bone)... Naturally protrudes out much father than other parrots making it easy to think they are severely under weight. A vasas average weight is 480 gram, this will fluctuate during molting as they tend to lose a noticeable amount of weight at this time. It is important that they receive extra fat and beta carotene at this time. As well as omega 3.

Feathers…. ( Both greaters and lessers) Can change color without molting from light grey to dark grey to brown, although more brown is seen in the females. This has to do with a chemical change that occurs in the utopical gland (preening gland)

Wings…..their wings on average are long for the body mass, making it important to flight train with commands as they can easily fly while clipped. Because of the tail and wing structure when clipped they tend to land awkwardly sometimes causing injury. I suggest keeping them full flighted and training with flight commands, if you have the experience and environment to do so. It will prevent injury. They are also capably of amazing things in flight, they can hover in place, dive like a raptor, and are extremely good fliers.

Tail…They can move there tails in a complete upward right angle, like a turkey and use this to balance as well was while diving in flight…in a dive at the last moment they will flare their tail and put it up right making them stop in mid dive and shoot out horizontally .

Feet…. During breeding season they will develop, (males, I do not know about the females) little horns on the ends of their toes by their nails, resembling hypercaratinosis or it can also look like horned mites. This is perfectly normal for them.

Females only….Ovary during breeding season will expand to take over 1/3 of the abdomen.

Head and feet will turn yellow. 

The beaks of females will swell and widen during breeding season.

They will form a pouch under their beak that fills with a sticky liquid that is feed to chicks. It is believed that this one of the reasons why the female loses it’s head feathers.

Males only…. Have a hemi penis, this will show it self during breeding season resembling a prolapsed cloaca. This cloacal inversion is typically around the size of a two inch hot dog. This can further open and expand and can be very large.

Males can also lose head feathers but may or may not turn yellow.

Diet…In the wild vasa eat a lot of fruit, and have much the same diet as other parrots with some exceptions. Vasa’s will naturally hunt small prey if food is scarce. And it is believed that vasa’ require animal protein in their diet. There have been reports of protein deficiencies in vasa’s when not fed a source of animal protein, as well as reports of stunted chicks from breeders who have not fed some sort of animal protein when rearing the chicks. Lack of protein has also been associated with aggression in vasa’s. So it is my opinion and that of many other vasa lovers that they require animal protein in their diet and that it is vital to their heath. When they don’t receive enough protein their feathers will be dry to the touch and stiff, their ceres are hard instead of soft and skin like. A healthy vasa should feel soft like a cockatoo.

They sexually mature around 5-7 years old

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