Native to Central and South America, conures are small parrots that make delightful pets. Comical, affectionate and trainable, they boast tropical colours, high intelligence and a lifespan up to 35 years. There are numerous conure species, and while some are difficult to breed in captivity, others are not. Conure parents are attentive and take good care of their young until weaning is complete.
Identify the genus of your parrot. The two most common groups of conures, and those found in the United States pet trade, are Pyrrhura and Aratinga. There are a few differences in their breeding natures. The Pyrrhura group measures between eight and 12 inches long and is the smaller of the two groups. They are the quieter crowd and are primarily green. Their breeding season is December to May and they are ready to breed at one year old. The Aratinga group measures 12 to 14 inches long, enjoys screeching and features brilliant yellow, red and blue colouring. They typically don't begin breeding until they are between three and four years old and their season is the summer months.
Provide a nestbox. This is a closed-in box that is mounted high and made from wood or metal. Avid chewers, some conures enjoy the pastime more during breeding season, making metal a sturdier choice. Size recommendations are 12 by 12 by 12 inches or 9 by 9 by 18 inches. Drill a hole in the box that is slightly bigger than the diameter of your mates, allowing easy access to their love nest. Sanitise the nestbox with Johnson's Anti-Mite Spray, available at pet stores and online. Place two inches of moist peat in the floor of the box and spread three to four inches of untreated, coarse wood shavings over it. Leave the nestbox in place after breeding season ends. Conures prefer to use it as a platonic bedroom the rest of the year.
Feed calcium-rich food to the female. Egg production may deplete her of calcium. Each batch of eggs is called a clutch. Pyrrhuras usually have two clutches per breeding season, laying four to seven eggs each time. Aratingas lay two to five eggs per clutch and often produce only one clutch during breeding season. The incubation period for both is 23 to 28 days and usually begins after the female lays her second egg.
Give eggfood mix to the male after the babies hatch. He will feed the eggfood to his mate, who will then feed the youngsters. Also offer millet spray and chickweed/dandelion; both will be readily fed to the babies.
Observe for signs that weaning is complete. Baby conures begin fledging in the nestbox at about five weeks and will be perch-fed for at least another five weeks. When the male begins chasing the babies and showing other signs of aggression, it is time to remove the kiddos from the nestbox.
If hand-raising the babies, wait at least three weeks before taking them from the nestbox, allowing them time to benefit from the mother's crop milk. The crop is a muscular pouch near the bird's throat that produces nutrient-rich secretions for offspring.
Protect each baby with an identifying closed ring on the leg. Place it within 14 days of hatching because those little feet will quickly be too big to slip a ring over.
Things you need
- Anti-Mite spray
- Peat moss
- Wood chips
- Bird food
- Closed rings