Home | Bird Species Profiles | Introducing the Bee Bee Parrot,Tovi or Orange-Cheeked Parakeet

Introducing the Bee Bee Parrot,Tovi or Orange-Cheeked Parakeet

Parakeet in treeThe tiny, personable Bee Bee Parrot (Brotogeris jugularis) is a wonderful choice for first time parrot owners and experienced aviculturists alike.  Only 7.5 inches long but with a stocky build, these little green birds have always reminded me of “sawed-off” Amazons, and I fell under their spell early on.

However, their unique natural history, which is often overlooked in pet care books, should be considered when planning your pet’s diet and care.  Today we’ll take a look at some of this charming bird’s needs.

Natural History

Bee Bee Parrots range from southwestern Mexico through Central America to Columbia, Venezuela, eastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru.  They favor forest edges, but have adapted to human intrusion and utilize farms and cut-over areas.  They go about in pairs or flocks of up to 30 birds, and may sometimes breed communally in arboreal termite nests. 

Bee Bee Parrots distinguish themselves by the wide variety of foods that they consume and by rearing their chicks largely upon fruit…a fact not always considered by those who keep them as pets.  While they will survive on seed-only diets, keeping them in the peak of good health and breeding condition requires that we put some effort into providing dietary variety.

Feeding Pet Bee Bees

Tovies on fingerI suggest that you provide Bee Bee Parrots with a high grade Small Parrot Seed Mix, Cockatiel Pellets, Fresh Sprouts, Lory Nectar, Canned Insects, fruit, corn and other vegetables, greens (kale, romaine, etc.) and edible flowers (Dandelion) and buds (fruit trees).

Sounds like a lot of work, but Bee Bees really are a delight to feed – watching their excitement as they strip a branch of buds or plow into a flower head is most amusing!  They are usually more than willing to try new foods (in contrast to many of their relatives!), so be sure to experiment with freeze-dried fruits and other parrot treats.

Bee Bee Parrots are well suited to cage or aviary life, and will nest in a typical Budgerigar box.  Please write in if you’d like to try your hand at breeding these wonderful little birds.

Further Reading

You can learn more about Bee Bees and related species in this Parrot Society UK Article.

You can see a video of a calm, nicely colored pet Bee Bee Parrot Here.



Tovi images referenced from wikipedia and originally posted to flickr by Rich Young (in tree) and Cristobal Alvarado Minic (perched on fingers) and uploaded by Snowmanradio


  1. avatar
    diana t. white

    I have a pair of Bee Bees’ and an aviary for them to go into. Please tell me anything about breeding, as to the time of year they breed and how often. Housing bedding. They are really funny to watch. Also how old to pull babies for hand feeding. Anything as to drafts, etc. Right now the weather is warm. I am set up in winter with heaters, drop plastics, blankets. They will be fine all year. Thankyou

  2. avatar

    Hello Diana

    Thanks for your interest. They are not the easiest of parrots to breed, but a good pair can be very prolific. One key is to provide a variety of nest boxes of different sizes, as they can be quite choosy. Smallest can be 9x9x16. In the wild, they usually excavate a chamber in an arboreal termite nest or an old woodpecker nest. The process of digging into the nest may be impt to some pairs. Boxes partially filled with peat and wood chips, or a rotted, partially hollow log, may stimulate them.. An inch or 2 of moist peat moss and wood chips (not cedar, redwood or pine) will serve as nesting material.

    Pulling chicks is not recommended unless you’ve had a good deal of experience; newly fledged chicks are easily tamed. Please see this article on “Co-Parenting” for another take on hand rearing.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    I think we have one. I would like to send in pictures for confirmation.

  4. avatar

    Hi! I have 4 Bee Bee’s and they were paired up and started screeching back and forth. So all 4 have been put in one large cage and that seems to be working, as now they all perch together and get along fine. I know I have 2 dna sexed males, but not sure of the other 2. There is a nest box, so we’ll see what happens! Thankyou for the updates and will keep info on these coming.

  5. avatar

    Thanks and good to hear, Diana. If you can, add another nest box as if another pair forms (same sex pairs are also possible) there may be fighting, disturbance of brooding birds, etc.

    Enjoy, best, Frank

  6. avatar


    I am getting my first bee bee today!! I’m so excited!
    I would love to breed them but how would I get a breeding pair?
    All I find is young ones and not being able to tell the sex —
    well that sums it up.

  7. avatar


    They cannot be sexed by eye, but feather sexing is very accurate, offered via mail by several labs. Pl let me know if you need further info, enjoy your new bird, Best, Frank

  8. avatar

    BoBo came home on Sunday — 4 days ago and was eating only sunflower seed.
    Now he’s eating a seed mix, fresh fruits, veggies, birdie bread and mash.
    He is approx. a year old. He’s not tame nor was he hand fed or handled.
    How difficult will the teaching be in your opinion?

    Thanks so much! Right now we’re getting to know one another.
    When I open his cage he scrambles to the back away from me.
    I know he’s frightened and I talk softly.

  9. avatar


    They vary greatly in personality, reactions to people. Birds kept alone are more likely to tame down over time, Continue as you are…just letting the bird get used to you, associate you with food.He may approach in time, especially if you keep him a bit hungry once he is no longer afraid of you.. Forcing, reaching in after the bird will just set things back…enjoy, pl keep me posted, Frank

  10. avatar

    Hello, BoBo has been with me going on 4 weeks now. We’re making great progress.
    He attempted to take a treat from me but was to fast and knocked it out of my hand.
    He’s still scared.
    He’s eating really good and today he flew to my laptop.
    I was playing some bee bee parrots on youtube.
    He came to see his family — lol
    He’s coming around. I hope within 3 months he’ll be eating out of my hand and stepping up etc.
    I love this bird!!

  11. avatar

    So nice to hear some good news, thanks!

  12. avatar


    I have a female bee bee parrot who is just a little over a year old. I have had her for about 3 months now. My only concern is that she will only eat her seed mix. She will not eat any of her pellets or vegetables and will barely touch any fruits. Any advice on how I can get her to have more variety in her diet would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

  13. avatar

    Hi Alex,

    Can be tough…Nutriberries are very useful in inducing them to take pellets; please see this article, best, Frank

  14. avatar

    Can I chime in here for Alex? My guy is going on one and only ate seed when I got him. Now he eats very little seed. Maybe a teaspoon a day and most of that is sprouted.
    When my BoBo came home I cut his seed in half and added fresh foods. I started with apple and broccoli adding spinach, banana, oatmeal, etc.
    Keep taking away seed and adding freah foods and pellets. Soon she will try and love the foods you give her. It doesn’t happen over night. Be patient and go slow. Picture how you would feel if all of a sudden someone changed your diet. For me it would be, “what do you mean I can’t have pizza anymore?”
    Today BoBo had sweet potato, cream of wheat, banana, mango, radish, cabbage, carrot and a few seeds as a treat.
    Tonight we’re having corn on the cob and he’ll enjoy his share of that too.
    Good luck and I hope this helps.

  15. avatar

    Hi Frank! I am s excited, I had to come back to tell you about it.
    I told you how my guy I call BoBo started taking treats from my fingers.
    I moved the treat up onto my hand so he had to really stretch to get it.
    Then I moved it onto my arm.
    Yep, you guessed it. He can onto my hand and walked timidly up my arm to get
    his treat.
    He’s been doing it now with less fear.
    I even got him to come onto my hand without a treat on my arm and offered the treat from my other hand he readily took.
    Then — He came onto my hand, walked up my arm, retrieved his treat and stood on my arm to munch it.
    I can’t be a happier mom! This is truly amazing. As I said before. He wasn’t handled or hand fed so it’s been a great 4 -1/2 weeks! YAY!! Happy dance.
    What would you recommend next?

  16. avatar

    Nice to hear…you may be able yo get the bird to come by calling hid name w/showing a treat, best, Frank

  17. avatar

    I’m fairly new to this bird business. I would like to buy a parrot, but now I’m a bit confused. Is a Bee Bee parrot the same as a Pionus parrot?

  18. avatar

    Hello Manny,

    No, they are different species. Pionus is used for several species in the genus Pionus; here’s an article about some of the more popular ones; pl let me know if you need more info, best, Frank

  19. avatar

    I bought a bee bee parrot don’t know if it’s a female or male when I bought it the lady said it was a pocket parrot and know I see its a bee bee all it wants to eat is sun flower seeds I put in fresh fruit and veggies and it doesn’t like it nor seeds is it ok to eat sunflower seeds only and where can I but another one at and about how much

  20. avatar

    Hello Angela,

    Sunflower seeds alone are not an adequate diet,…most parrots favor them above all else, but they should be used only in small amounts. Cut way back on the sunflower and add more of a good small parrot seed mix. Unless the bird gets a bit hungry, it will not likely try other foods. Nutriberries are useful in getting your bird to eat a more balanced diet. Please see this article,

    Best, Frank

  21. avatar

    Hello it is really intersting to read all uour comments and learn about my new pets. I have 2 small green parrots (bee bee or tovi parakeet) am not sure… I have been feeding parrot mix and sunflower seeds. Latley i gave them banana one of them really like it… We fed them banana piece every day for 3 days with the seeds… I currently see the one who ate banana is like he gained weight and his feathers are opened or stretched like he has cold?! What is the reason am concerned… We stopped banana 2 days ago …Waiting your feedback

  22. avatar

    Hello Charbel,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Puffed feathers, etc. signals an illness..usually a bacterial infection, respiratory infection, etc. and would not be related to the fruit. You should have the bird seen by a vet, as many ailments elicit similar symptoms. Please keep me posted, frank

  23. avatar

    Hello frank

    I really appreciate your feedback we asked a vet and he gave us theraprim (trimethoprimum 400mg) we added some to the water as prescribed. But i dont see them drinking.. They dont drink so much what i noticed though they eat OK and rarley some water. Is that normal and what best to do ..


  24. avatar

    Hi Charbel,

    My pleasure. They do not take in much water…best to let vet know appx. how much they drink, in case dosage needs modification based on that. I hope all goes well, frank

  25. avatar

    I have I plain parakeet and I think it has a swollen crop.
    I found that when I was giving it a shower. It’s like 1 cm and red color.
    Also before I found that it used to scratch the neck until it removed the feather.
    It’s eating well and playful all day .
    I can send a picture if needed.

    Thank you

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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