A genus of medium-sized parrots native to Mexico, and Central and South America. Characteristic of the genus are the chunky body, bare eye ring (which can vary in color), and short square tail. They are superficially similar to Amazon parrots, but smaller and in flight their wing-strokes are far deeper. Coloration is generally subdued yet complex compared to member species of the genus Amazona; under bright lighting, their feathers shimmer with iridescent brilliance. All species share bright red undertail coverts; the scientific name of one species, the blue-headed parrot (P. menstruus), refers to this. Males and females are similar, with no notable sexual dimorphism.
There are 8 species and 3 subspecies.
Pionus parrots are regarded as excellent pets, although some species are very rare in captivity. Most commonly kept species are the Blue-headed, Maximillian (Scaly-headed) and White-capped. Others, such as the Dusky and the Bronze-winged have become more common due to captive breeding.
Pionus parrots are quieter than Amazon parrots. Unlike some other companion parrots, aviculturists have noted that they are not particularly energetic, and do not generally enjoy hands-on play (for example, being flipped on their backs), but they do provide companionship and are described as gentle and charming pets.
When excited or frightened, birds of this genus emit a characteristic wheezing or snorting sound that is sometimes mistaken for a sign of distress, or a symptom of disease. They also give off a musky or sweet odor that some caretakers find unpleasant, but others enjoy.