Playful, fun-loving, bold and inquisitive are all traits that describe a conure, but one word is true for them all: loud! Native to South America, conures come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on the conure, they range from an average of 9 to 21 inches long and have a life span of 20 to 30 years. Because of their small size, conures make great family pets. They are highly attractive birds that come in a multitude of colors, with a spunky, outgoing personality to match. Conures can be taught to perform tricks and are known for talking, but they often express themselves vocally with high-pitched screeches and other calls.
Conures have very busy beaks and will make sure any toy knots are undone by the day’s end. A well-socialized conure looks forward to spending time with the family. They can be very cuddly, and don’t be surprised if yours climbs in your shirt, poking its head out of the collar! Conures are also very rhythmic birds, and will typically sway back and forth, to show excitement or to copy your movements. Many owners channel their conures’ love for play into trick training, teaching them to dunk a ball or even ride a prop scooter.
One thing you’ll want to work with early on in your relationship is the conure’s loud screech. Teach your conure independent play (stock up on toys) and don’t reward its screech by answering it. Schedule daily play sessions with your conure, and it will reward you with less ear-piercing contact calls. Popular conure species include the sun conure, the jenday conure, the green-cheeked conure, maroon-bellied conure, the peach-fronted conure, the blue-crowned conure and the nanday conure.
Conures make an excellent pet, if you’re ready to deal with the noise level!
Conure Parrot, Types of Conures:
Conures are wonderful pet birds that are members of the parrot family. The word "conure" means cone tail. Small to medium sized conure parrots are found in the new world, throughout the central and southern regions of the Americas.
Conure parrots are distinguished by their slender bodies and tapered tails, rather than having the stockier bodies and more square-shaped tails found on larger parrots. These dynamic birds are full of energy, very attractive, and make wonderful pets. Conures are very intelligent, they are enjoyed for their delightful personalities, high energy, and comical antics. Being some of the most colorful and playful parrots, they are definitely one of the clowns of the parrot world.
Conures have all the great qualities of the larger parrots and in many ways are like miniature versions of the Macaws. They are found in many sizes and colors. Their beaks are powerful, they have large heads, and they are adorned in bright colors. They are delightful comics, acrobatic, very social, and having talents for mimicry. A Conure parrot is a good choice for those wanting to step up from a Budgie or Cockatiel but not quite ready for the commitment of a large parrot like a Macaw, African Grey, or Cockatoo.
Being very outgoing and social, a conure parrot will quickly adapt to its new environment and cage. Because they are smaller parrots, they require less space and are generally less expensive than large parrots. Depending on size, in a good environment they can live up to 15 years for a smaller conure parrot, or up to about 35 years for the larger species. They love attention and make wonderful pets, but can be very vocal.
The bird guides for each type of conure provides in-depth information about living with them. Housing, care, and feeding requirements are covered along with each bird's behaviors and activity needs. Tips for handling and training conures are also included, along with breeding information.
Conures are a big parrot in a small package… attractive, talkative, comical, and affectionate!
Conure History :
Conure parrots have been kept as pets for over a hundred years, and possibly longer. The first Conures were found throughout Latin America from Mexico, through the Caribbean, to southern Chile. A missionary in the colonies of the West Indies, French priest Jean Baptiste Labat, first described them in literature in 1724. He drew pictures of a species of bird he called Aratinga labati from the island of Guadeloupe, and it is believed by some that he may have kept it as a pet.
It was in the 19th century that European explorers and naturalists began further expanding the knowledge of birds and many other creatures. A romantic period ensued where birds became highly favored by British nobility and royalty. The late 1800's saw volumes of literature on all sorts of exotic birds and parrots. Conures began to be imported into the Europe and the United States. Interest in parrot keeping continued in the United State throughout the 1900's. A few species, including the Green Conure, were bred in the 1930's. In the 1960's even more species began to be produced in captivity, including the Sun Conure.
Concern for many species threatened with extinction resulting from deforestation and habitat destruction began to arouse concern around the world. In 1979 Herbert R. Axelrod, a renowned tropical fish expert and publisher of pet books, attended a meeting sponsored by the United Nations on endangered species. There he proposed that birds be placed in captive breeding to prevent the extinction of many rare species as being a sensible approach to the problem. This helped open the doors to importation of many parrot species previously not available. Only Australia persisted in not allowing exportation.
Parrots of all types arrived in abundance into the United States. The latter 1900's saw a large increase in aviculture and captive breeding. Today, although bird importation is greatly restricted, many Conure species are successfully bred in captive and readily available.
Other Genera - sometimes referred to as Conures:
RhynchopsittaIn the genus Rhynchopsitta there are 2 species, called the Thick-billed Parrots.
MyiopsittaIn the genus Myiopsitta there are 1 to 2 species, called the Monk Parakeet.
BolborhynchusIn the genus Bolborhynchus there are 3 to 5 species, including the Sierra Parakeet B. aymara, Mountain ParakeetB. aurifrons, Barred Parakeet B. lineola, Andean Parakeet B. orbygnesius, and Rofous-fronted Parakeet B. ferruginifrons.
BrotogerisIn the genus Brotogeris there are 7 species and 15 subspecies, including the Plain Parakeet B. tirica, Canary-winged Parakeet B. versicolorus, Grey-cheeked Parakeet B. pyrrhopterus, Orange-chinned Parakeet B. jugularis, Cobalt-winged Parakeet B. cyanoptera, Golden-winged Parakeet B. chrysopterus, Tui Parakeet B. sanctithomae.
Enicognathus ferrugineus ferrugineus
Aratinga auricapilla aurifrons
Queen of Bavaria Conure
Aratinga aurea aurea
What Are Conures?
Conures are new world parrots, meaning they are native to the Americas. The term Conure refers to several genera of small to medium sized, long-tailed parrots found from Mexico and Central America down through South America. There are many different types of conures found in this vast region, and they live in a diverse range of habitats from the tropical to the subtropics.
It can be confusing to understand the difference between a parakeet and a conure. Actually there is really no difference between a parakeet and a conure, as both are long-tailed, small parrots. The term conure simply means these are parakeets from South and Central America, particularly those found in the genera Aratinga and Pyrrhura.
Here is a more in-depth explanation of these two terms: Parakeet and Conure
The name "Parakeet"
Parakeets are a huge group of birds. These are small parrots consisting of many different unrelated species found across the globe from Australia to Asia, the subtropics of Africa to Central and South America. Parakeets belong to the Order Psittacine (or Psittaciformes) of hook-billed birds. Under this order they are part of a large Family known as Psittacidae, or "True Parrots" and placed in the subfamily Psittacinae of "typical parrots and allies". The Psittacinae subfamily itself consists of 7 tribes, and within each of these tribes are many familiar parrots besides parakeets and conures, they also include Macaws, African Greys, Amazon parrots, Lovebirds, and more.
Parakeet is a term that refers to a small to medium sized parrot. They range in size from the smaller ones being only about 7" (18 cm) while the largest reach up to 18" (45 cm) in length from the top of the head to the tip of the tail. One of the distinguishing characteristics of this group of parrots is the tail. Parakeets have long, tapered tail feathers which are about half of their body length.
The name parakeet can be confusing. This is a term used in aviculture, it is not a scientific name nor a representation of their taxonomy. In fact, there is no scientific designation, which recognizes the size of a bird as important enough to make it a "natural" group - scientifically. It is a common designation with a lot of latitude. You will occasionally find a larger parakeet species called a parakeet, while at the same time others will refer to it as a parrot, and both are correct.
The name "Conure"
The name conure originated from Conurus. Conurus is an invalid scientific name formerly given to the AratingaGenus. This is a large conure genus that contains very popular parrots like the Sun Conure and the Jenday Conure. Conorus comes from the Greek words cone (cone) and ourus (tail-bearing). It is not used today.
Many refer to the small to mid-sized long-tailed parrots found in the New Worlds as Conures, and this is used most commonly in aviculture. Others refer to them as South American Parakeets. Some parrots in the conure group are commonly referred to as either a conure, or as a parakeet, and both are correct. In the scientific world, Orthinologist call them parakeets.
Although all conures can be considered parakeets, several varieties of parakeets found in the Americas do not belong to the conure group. We have followed the designations ascribed by Joseph M. Forshaw, author of "Parrots of the World", putting those he calls Conures here and those he designates as Parakeets in their own group.
Facts about Conures:
There are many types of conures, and they vary widely in size, coloration, and lifespan. The smallest conure is the Painted Conure Pyrrhura picta which ranges from 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 inches (21.5 - 24 cm) in length. The Patagonian Conures Cyanoliseus patagonus sp. are the largest conures, reaching up to 17 3/4 to 19 inches (45 - 48 cm).
The average life span of conures is really unknown on most species. It is known that conures live longer in captivity than they do in the wild, and larger birds live longer than smaller birds. In general, small conures can live up to about 15 years, while some of the larger conures have been known to live for 35 years or more.
This is a large and diverse group of parrots. Although each species has it own unique characteristics, there are some common features all conures share.
Characteristics found in all types of conures:
In general, conures have slender bodies and long, tapered tails. Yet some varieties have short tails that become narrow at the tip, while others have long, slender tails.
The colors of conures can be very rich with the plumage of each species having its own color palate. Colors can range from rich greens to brilliant yellows, reds and oranges, and into the whites and browns.
Conures have broad heavy beaks of black or light horn color. Use of their beak is multi-faceted. They have a hooked upper bill that they use to climb, hold things, or to dig. They also use their beak to chew, break seeds, and peel fruit.
Conures have a fairly broad cere at the base of the beak.
Almost all Conures have a clearly defined eye ring, with the females generally having a somewhat narrower ring than the males.
Each type of conure has its own set of calls, but they are generally harsh and can be loud. These are all fairly intelligent parrots and many can learn to "talk". Many are quite adept at mimicking sounds they hear and some will repeat words, phrases and even whistle.
All types of conures are naturally active and will stay very busy. They will always be climbing and flying from perch to perch. They will intently chew on toys and anything else that they can reach.
Types of Conures :
The conure structure here follows the designations put forth by Joseph M. Forshaw, author of "Parrots of the World". Most of the living Conure species are found in the Aratinga and Pyrrhua genera, with a smaller number found in five other genera. There are an additional four genera that are sometimes referred to as Conures by other sources as well, as in the "Lexicon of Parrots". We have included them below as well, but the bird guides for these species will be found in the Parakeets section,
Types of Conures - by genera:
Aratinga ConuresThere are many conure birds in the Aratinga genus, it contains about 25 species and many subspecies. This genus also includes some of the most popular conures, such as the Sun Conure Jenday Conure. Peach-fronted Conure, Red-masked Conure, Mitred Conure, and more. Aratinga Conures are found across a large area of Central and South America, from Mexico to central Argentina as well as in the West Indies. Within this huge range, their habitats vary from tropical rainforests to savannahs, deserts to semi- deserts, and from mountains to sea level.
Nandayus ConuresThe Nandayus genus consists of one species, Nandayus nenday. It has a variety of common names including Nanday Conure, Nanday Parakeet, Black-hooded Conure, and Black-masked Conure. The Nanday Conure is native to southeastern Bolivia, southern Mato Grosso, northern Argentina, Chaco Formosa, and Paraguay. It has also been introduced into North America, with colonies reported in the southern and eastern parts of the United States.
Ognorhynchus ConuresThe Ognorhynchus genus consists of one species, Ognorhynchus icterotis, called the Yellow-eared Conure or Yellow-eared Parrot. It is an endangered species from the western Andes of Colombia.
Leptosittaca ConuresThe Leptosittaca genus consists of one species, Leptosittaca branickii, called the Golden-plumed Conure or Golden-plumed Parrot. It is found widely but locally distributed in Colombia, but numbers are in declining due to habitat destruction.
Conuropsis Conures (extinct)
Cyanoliseus ConuresThe Cyanoliseus genus consists of the nominate species, Cyanoliseus patagonus, called the Patagonian Conure or Burrowing Parrot, and 3 subspecies. It is found in Argentina and Chile, with some migration population found in Uruguay in the winter.
Enicognathus ConuresThe genus Enicognathus has two species, and a few subspecies. The familiar conure species are the Slender-bill Conure, Astral Conure, and the Chilean Conure. They are found in Chile, southern Argentina, and the islands in the Strait of Magellan. They inhabit mostly in wooded country, but can also be found in shrubland and farmland.
Pyrrhura ConuresThe genus Pyrrhura consists upwards of 22 species and a number of subspecies. This genus includes the smallest conure parrot, the Painted Conure, as well as some other well-known conures including the Green-cheeked Conure, Black-capped Conure, Pearly Conure, Souance Conure, and more. Pyrrhura Conures are found in Panama and Costa Rica of southern Central America and in South America, inhabiting tropical and subtropical regions. Some species are highly endangered.
Conures are very social, active, and outgoing birds. They adapt well to captivity and will adjust easily to their cage or aviary. They are intelligent little birds and are generally easy to tame. These parrots enjoy interaction with people and they also enjoy the companionship of other birds.
Conure parrots are very popular pet birds because of their incredible beauty and personable behaviors. What a joy it is to watch these active, playful creatures. Everything in their cage becomes an object for their pleasure, from pulling up the paper on the bottom of their cage to playing hide-and-seek under it. Then they'll move on to rearranging their perches and toys.
n nature conures live in flocks or family groups and are very friendly and peaceful birds. They love attention and make wonderful pets, but can be very vocal. Although they can be noisy, they are highly intelligent and so are quick to learn tricks and to talk. Because of their social disposition, many can become finger tamed in just a few weeks. These birds are very hardy and will breed fairly easily in captivity.
Conures also do well when kept in pairs or groups. They live in colonies in the wild, but form monogamous pairs. Once a pair is harmonious, many types of conures will bond with their mate for life. A single bird can become restless or distressed without companionship, and may start demonstrating undesirable behaviors like feather plucking or become depressed. Keeping them with a companion can help avert such behaviors.
Animal-World References: Pet Birds - Exotic Birds
Dr. David Alderton, The Atlas of Parrots of the World, T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 1991
Joseph M. Forshaw, Parrots of the World, T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 1977
Julie Rach Mancini, Conure: Your Happy Healthy Pet, Howell Book House; 2 edition, 2006
Dr. Mathew M. Vriends, Conures, Barron's, 1992
Mathew M. Vriends, Phd., Conures, A Complete Owners Manual, T.F.H Publications, Inc.
Tony Silva, Barbara Kotlar, Conures, T.F.H Publications, Inc. 1988
Thomas Arndt, Atlas of Conures, T.F.H. Publications, Inc
Dr. Mathew M. Vriends and Petra Bleher, Dwarf Parrots, T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 1979.
The Genus Conurus in the West Indies, Jstor.org, referenced 2011
RI. W. Shufeldt, MD. (1886), Osteology of Conurus Carolinensis, Medical Corps U.S. Army
Conure Care :
The chances of this group double-clutching is somewhat less than 50 percent if the babies are pulled early (7 to 14 days) for hand-rearing. If the offspring are left with the parents for three weeks or more, the chances of two clutches is very slim indeed. If, however, you choose to pull the eggs for incubation after the hen has set for two weeks, then the chances of double-clutching increases to about 75 percent. Pulling the eggs as they are laid will probably result in the greatest quantity of eggs. In fact, this is true of all the conures, regardless of from which group they belong. Some pairs will lay 10 to 12 eggs under these conditions, but inaccurate incubation will often result in less of a total yield than if the hen were permitted to sit for two weeks on her two clutches of three eggs each.
The red front is the most difficult of the Aratinga group. This is due to the fact that in its natural habitat it seeks out nesting holes in rocks on cliff sides. The two easiest-to-breed conures of this group are the white-eyed and red-throated (orange-throated) conures. These often will give two clutches per season if the babies are taken from the nest for hand-rearing.
Red throats are the smallest of the group, but they make up for their lack of size with one of the best personalities in conuredom. I found them highly prized as pets in the areas of Honduras, where they are common. In these areas, they nest in holes in pine trees, and each year the people harvest some babies to hand-raise for the local pet trade.
Nest boxes for the large conures are usually about 12 inches square and 18 inches deep. I recommend this depth because the birds don’t seem to settle in as well and sit tight unless the box has a depth greater than 12 inches. They need to be far enough below the entrance hole to lose interest in what’s going on outside.
There’s a reason why conures are popular pet companions; these spunky and often comical parrots come in a range of eye-catching colors and have equally colorful personalities. Conures are one of the more varied groups of parrots. These small to medium parrots with long tail feathers range in size to just under 10 inches to just over 20 inches, depending on the conure species.
Native Region / Natural Habitat :
Conures are native to South America.
The popular conure genus “Aratinga” means “little macaw” in Latin
There are naturalized conures populations in both Northern California and Southern California
Color: blue, green,orange, yellow
Size: medium, small
Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Sounds: Vocal communicator
Interaction: Highly social
Personality & Behavior :
Conures can be very playful, very cuddly and, at times, very loud. A conure is more inclined to be curious and bold instead of shy and cautious. Conures are active and busy birds that need plenty of toys and other forms of enrichment to keep them happily occupied throughout the day. A conure can make a great family pet because of its playful and outgoing personality. In a family situation, children should be taught how to respectively interact with the conure, including proper handling and not forcing interaction. A conure loves to be where its people are or on them; even going so far as to climb under their owner’s shirt, head poking out of the collar, during cuddle time. Some conures will dance back and forth, and might even mimic its person’s movements. Conures can also be taught to perform tricks on cue if trained using positive enforcement.
Speech & Sounds :
A conure’s signature sound is a high-pitched screech, which is often emitted when the bird is excited, startled and/or when it wants attention. Many owners make the mistake of inadvertently reinforcing a conure’s screech by running over to the cage or otherwise giving the bird direct attention whenever it begins to screech. Conures are capable talking and, although their vocabularies are not as extensive as that of other parrot species, they can learn to speak a few words and phrases.
Care & Feeding:
Conures are active birds and need a spacious cage to move about and to accommodate toys. A minimum cage size for a conure is 36 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 24 inches high. Conures generally love to bathe — in their water dish, in the shower with their owner or via a spray bath.
A conure’s diet should include a nutritionally balanced manufactured diet, supplemented with fresh vegetables, fruit and healthy table foods. Conures have busy beaks, which makes Lafeber foods a conure favorite. Lafeber’sAvi-Cakes, Pellet-Berries and Nutri-Berries offer balanced nutrition that appeals to a conure’s chewing needs. A properly cared for conure can live between 20 to 30 years.
Health & Common Conditions :
Conures can be prone to feather picking. If a complete medical exam rules out medical causes of feather plucking, boredom and/or lack of appropriate mental stimulation can be a cause. Offer your conure an enriched environment with plenty of opportunities for play and exercise, as well as a staple supply of safe items to chew. Conures are also susceptible to Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD), Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, Psittacosis, beak malocclusion and Aspergillosis. Regular health checkups by an avian veterinarian are crucial to your conure’s health, as they can help diagnose and treat many disease processes early on.
Get a Conure :
Conures are available for sale in large pet stores, as well as from avian specialty stores and through bird breeders. They are also often available for adoption from avian rescue and adoption organizations. A hand-raised, people-socialized conure can make an excellent family pet.
Green cheek conure mating / breeding
Conure Breeding :
Popular Conures and Their Breeding Habits..
Conures are colorful, clever, charismatic clowns that can be a never-ending source of enjoyment for their owners. All of this, combined with the fact that they are reasonably priced, creates a large demand by pct shops nationwide.
This demand must be met by captive-breeding in the United States. Private aviculturists have fared quite well in this area. Since a flight cage of only 3 to 4 feet in length will make most conure pairs happy, they are a bird that most people can find the room to breed, if they should so choose.
Almost all of the conures can be divided into one of four groups that differ from one another in some major way concerning breeding habits. There are a few “outsiders” that do not fit clearly into any of the four groups, but these are the exception to the rule and can usually be placed as intermediates between two of the major groups. What follows is a rundown of the conures most commonly available.
Green Conure Group :
The first group, and the largest in body size of those commonly available, is the green conure group. These are classified scientifically under the genus name Aratinga. (The macaws are classified under the name Ara, and these large green conures are, as the name implies, very closely related to the macaws. This relationship has been demonstrated by the fact that hybrid offspring from a cross between a noble macaw and a mitred conure have produced fertile eggs.) This group consists of the blue-crowned, mitred, cherry-headed, red-fronted, white-eyed, Finch’s, green and red-throated conures. The blue crown is a bit afield of this group (toward the macaws), but its breeding habits and seasons are very close to the rest of this group.
These birds, as a whole, are only moderately prolific and can take quite some time before they begin to produce regularly. It is not uncommon for wild-caught stock to take three to five years before they settle down to breed, even if fully mature when set up. Even when they do begin to produce regularly, they are extremely seasonal in their behavior. Unless they are fooled into misreading the seasons by artificial conditions, they hold off until the middle to late summer.
Gold-Capped, Jenday, Sun and Dusky Conures:
The second conure group is made up of what are usually referred to as the medium- sized conures. These are the gold-capped, jenday, sun and dusky conures. These are also classified under the genus Aratinga, but most aviculturists who have worked with them for an extended time believe they should be grouped separately. Although they are still related to the macaws, these conures are certainly a giant step further away than the green conure group. Their behavior differs from their larger cousins in every way.
These behavioral differences are most drastic when it comes to breeding. These birds, under captive conditions, have no breeding season in the real sense of the word. Once they begin to produce, they often will lay four clutches in one year, only to rest for a few months and start all over again. Even though these parrots are one size smaller than the previous group, I recommend the same size nest box as used for the larger conures (12 inches square and 18 inches deep). This depth is necessary because of the groups’ propensity to completely empty shallower boxes of nesting material. With the last bit of material 18 inches down, they will usually have some left by the time they finish laying their eggs. Once they begin to sit, they will stop throwing the material out of their box.
Their desire to empty nest boxes is instinctive and is done for the purpose of cleaning out the nesting chambers from whatever raised babies there previously. In the wild, everything from woodpeckers to tree-nesting mice will use the hollows to raise babies. Many of these other tenants nest at different times of the year. Each new occupant cleans out the nest before use. It just so happens that this group is overzealous about house cleaning.
Nanday Conures :
Intermediate to the previous two groups is the nanday conure. Like the green conure group, it is highly seasonal about beginning nesting activities, but like the gold cap group, it is free-breeding, once it decides that the season is at hand. If they don’t give you at least two clutches a year, they are probably sick. You can usually count on three clutches, and if they can at all manage four (with early baby-pulling), they are happy to oblige.
The nanday is not classified as Aratinga by most taxonomists (it stands alone as the sole member of the Nandayus genus), but it is closely related to the gold cap group. This has been proven by the fact that hybrid offspring produced by the crossing of nandays with jendays are fertile and do reproduce successfully. Nandays also enjoy emptying nest boxes of material, and an 18-inch depth is recommended. The interior nest box material that is most commonly used for all conures is pine shavings.
Brown-Throated, Aztec and Halfmoon Conures :
The third major group consists of the brown-throated, the Aztec and the half- moon conures. Although they are still members of the Aratinga genus, they are another step further away from the macaws. This group starts breeding earlier in the year than the green conure group (early to middle summer), but like that group, they often take three to five years before they start producing on a regular basis. At that point, some pairs will only produce a few babies a year, while others will become prolific producers like those of the gold cap group. Some pairs never produce at all.
This problem is due to the fact that they show a strong reluctance about entering the standard nesting boxes usually provided in captive-breeding setups. In their natural habitats, they excavate arboreal termite nests to make nesting cavities. These large termite nests are made of a material that is similar in consistency to spongy paper-board. The conures will chew a hole in the side of one of these mounds, excavate an internal cavity and lay their eggs. The termites close off all openings that lead from the conures’ nesting chambers to the rest of the termite nest. This separates them from the invading pair of conures. When they sense that the conures are gone, they fill back in the cavity. This requires the conures to excavate a new nest every time they wish to reproduce.
Because they have evolved in such a manner, this group has trouble relating to a nest box as a permanent structure. All the other conures use their nest boxes as a permanent dormitory either all year long or at least during the entire breeding season. They will play in them during the day, hide in them if frightened and, most importantly, sleep in them at night. Not so with this group, however. The moment that the youngsters are old enough to stay outside at night, the conures no longer return to the nest to sleep. Nature intends for them to move out. This is necessary so the termites can make permanent repairs. Cavities like this can fill up with rain during the rainy season and cause extensive damage to the mound. This is strongly instinctive behavior and is not in any way learned from the parents, nor is it caused by the parents “putting them out.”
I have fostered clutches of halfmoons under both pearly and maroon-bellied conures. They were weaned by their surrogate parents. Every chick turned its back on Mom and Dad, and left the nest for good upon weaning. Maroon bellies and pearlies will allow babies to stay with them almost indefinitely after weaning.
Brown throats, Aztecs and halfmoons that do eventually develop the habit of sleeping in their nest boxes, regardless of season, will become prolific producers. Those that do not will at best produce a baby or two once in a while. (In fact, you can safely say of all conures that if they do not sleep in their nest boxes, you will not sec any eggs. Sleeping in them at night always far precedes the laying of the first egg.)
Filling the inside of the nest box with cork in order to allow excavation to take place might be a step in the right direction for some reluctant pairs. It does not, however, necessarily create the desire to excavate. These conures can be given a nest box that is a 12-inch cube. Since their habits are so different, most will leave a reasonable amount of nesting material in the box.
A few years ago, I had the great luck to acquire a blue-mutation halfmoon conure. The bird was fully mature and given every chance to breed by its previous owners. Years went by without so much as an egg.
It was at that point that I acquired this blue female with her normal-colored mate. Once they settled into my aviary, I noticed that they did not sleep in their nest box. Since she was so important to me, I decided to take drastic measures. First, I separated her from her mate. Next, I took a beautiful proven male that had developed the permanent habit of sleeping in his nest box at night, and removed him from his mate. I left both the blue female and the proven male alone for about a week, and then I put him into her breeding flight. I lucked out: She was star struck in love. He thought that she was pretty cute, too. It was a match made in heaven, and they were inseparable.
That is, of course, until it was time to bed down for the night. He slept in the box, and she slept on the food dish. Within a week, she was sleeping on the perch at the entrance to the box. In two weeks, she was sleeping in the box with her new flame. Within one month of entering the box, she was sitting on three fertile eggs. She now has (because of him) developed the habit of sleeping in the box year round, and they produce regularly every season.
Next is another conure that does not fit clearly into any group. It is best classified as intermediate to the gold cap and brown throat groups. This bird is the peach-fronted conure.
Most people would automatically consider the peach front to belong to the same group as the halfmoon, since they look so much alike. The fact is that the peach front’s breeding habits are nothing at all like any of the conures in the brown throat group.
Peach fronts do not start to breed until late spring or early summer, like the brown throat and its group; but once they get rolling, they are prolific producers, like the gold cap group.
Since they get a late start, they usually only yield two clutches a year, but they will reliably give you three to four babies in each clutch, year after year. In the wild, they nest in tree hollows.
The last major group is the genus Pyrrhura. These ornate little conures comprise a large family of which only a handful are available with any frequency. Of those that are available, some are extremely prolific, and some are downright stingy about producing.
This group, as a whole, appears to produce better in the humid climate of south Florida than in the arid areas of California and Arizona. Their box requirements are small, with 10 inches square and 12 inches in depth being sufficient. Their breeding season in Florida begins in mid spring. They are multiple-clutch birds, and some of the more prolific types will have up to three or four clutches of babies in one season. That is, of course, if you pull the babies early enough so that the parents have the time to finish before the August heat wave. They will not reinitiate nesting activities if it is too hot. The most prolific members of the group are the maroon-bellied and green-cheeked conures. Next comes the black-capped, maroon-tailed and pearly conures. The rest of the group has a record of only marginal success. This is probably due to the minimal numbers of specimens that aviculturist have to work with.
In some cases, though, they are just very reluctant to produce. An example of this is the painted conure. This bird has been imported in sufficient quantities to allow for a domestic population boom. Most pairs, however, are very reluctant to produce. There are aviculturists who are lucky enough to have one or two very prolific pairs, but on the whole, the painted has not been established in captivity.
There is obviously something we must do differently to “turn on” all the pairs that are sitting around doing nothing but eating. One possibility we can try is colony-breeding. This has failed to increase production with anything else in the conure family, but in this case it might be worth trying. On a trip to Suriname, South America, I met with someone who had claimed to have successfully bred them for several years. He claimed that the secret to his success was colony-breeding them. He did, in fact, have a flight cage with four pairs in it, and several juveniles were flying with them.
Quaker Parakeets :
A discussion of the different breeding habits of conures cannot be complete without mention of the Quaker parakeet (also called the monk parakeet). This bird is not classified as a conure, but it is part of many conure breeding operations. It has the strangest breeding habits of all the parrots; they build nests by weaving together dry sticks. They build these nests into large “condominiums,” and each breeding pair or family group has its own entrance hole and internal chamber.
In captivity, Quakers will use any standard nest box. These birds never empty the box of shavings, so a 12-inch cube for a box is fine. These are the most prolific birds in the entire parrot family. This has caused them to be banned in several states. The wildlife authorities in these states believe that if enough of them escape, they might harm the native birds by out-competing them for food. Authorities also have speculated that Quakers could become a menace to crops.
Quakers usually begin to produce in mid-spring and continue well into the summer months. They are usually good for three or four clutches a year. Although many pairs will lay up to seven fertile eggs per clutch, they seldom will raise more than three babies. They often will hatch all the eggs but will only raise the three of their choice.
All the conures kept in captivity can suffer from obesity. The conure diet must consist of enough nutritious low-fat foods to keep the fat buildup to a minimum. Fat birds get lazy and stop producing.
The age at which physical maturity is reached is directly proportional to the size of the conure. The Pyrrhura conures mature at 8 to 12 months of age. The gold cap and brown throat groups mature at 12 to 18 months, and the green conure group at about 2 years.
Physical maturity doesn’t usually translate instantly into babies. Mental maturity to an extent is also necessary. This can add anywhere from six months to two years to the age at which a conure will start producing. These statistics are for domestic-bred, hand-raised birds. Babies raised and weaned by their parents will mature in about half the time. It is not known what causes this phenomenon. It certainly would be an interesting mystery to try to unlock.
Conures diseases :
Common Conure Diseases
Conure Bleeding Syndrome (CBS)
Erythremic myelosis in conures (Haemorrhagic conure syndrome): Have been described in Blue-crowned conures, Peach-fronted conures, Orange-fronted conures and Patagonian conures. Even though a viral aetiology (retrovirus) has been suggested, this has not yet been proven. It is believed to be triggered by calcium deficiencies together with dietary lack of vitamin K and other nutrients by possibly altering normal clotting mechanisms. Clinical signs include breathing difficulties, severe weakness, intermittent increase in urination and diarrhoea. Suggessful treatments include injectable vitamin K, vitamin D3, calcium and antibiotics. Administration of calcium can stabilise a bird's condition.
Pacheco's Disease: A systemic herpes infection often carried by asymptomatic conures.
Polyoma Virus : A virus thought to be frequently carried by conures. They are highly susceptible to this virus.
Wasting Syndrome / Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) / Macaw Wasting Syndrome : Also afflicts conures. Some of the symptoms may include undigested seeds in droppings, progressive weight loss (going light). There is no cure and no testing at present time, except a crop biopsy which detects suggestive lesions in symptomatic parrots. Low contagious factor - with transmission primarily through droppings. Although experiences vary -- which may suggest mutated variations of the virus, some more contagious / active than others. With a change in diet and special care infected birds may live for several years.