I've lived with Peachfront Conures Aratinga aurea for 30 years. I've bred 'em, trained 'em, even visited Bolivia to observe them in the wild. For more about me, click right here.
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11:05 a.m. 2012-04-09
Breeding Peachfront Conures: How I Did It
Here's the story of how I successfully bred some Peachfront Conures to a thriving adulthood. I'm not a professional breeder. I don't sell or hand-feed birds. This is just my story, shared for your information and enjoyment, with no claim that it's the only way to do things. Many breeders will have different stories, and I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to share, so that I can post your story as a guest entry in my blog.
My story begins in 1982 with my first Peachfront, a young imported male from Bolivia. I have reason to believe that Arthur was taken from the nest at a very early age and fed chewed-up food by the local Bolivians, because once he came to trust me, he would try to check my mouth from time to time. We're talking kissing with tongues, folks. Yikes. However, he was probably stressed by the quarantine process, and he was wild and rather frantic when I first got him. I spent some time getting to know him, taming him as I described in my article, Crazy About Conures, and soon he became an unbelievably devoted and affectionate pet.
This loving Conure spent hours out of each day on my shoulder, assisting me in my writing projects. He would chew and regurgitate food for me, snuggle against me, even try to mount my foot. These birds have a powerful pair bond, and I was the recipient.
In October, 1988, I decided that this loving bird deserved to become a parent. I acquired a second imported bird, a female. As a precaution, I never place new birds immediately with my older pets, and I held her in a separate room for a month. However, I know that Arthur could hear her.
In November, I placed the two birds in cages where they could see each other. I might as well admit that Arthur was not happy. He squawked and fussed, and I spent some time petting and coddling him. Actually, that was probably the wrong move. Used to spending hour after hour on my shoulder, in close physical contact, Arthur was not ready to be a bird as long as I lavished him with attention. Eventually, although it really tore at my heart to do it, I had to slowly withdraw from spending so much time with him. His attention slowly turned toward Gwen, although he still wasn't exactly thrilled about it. They were still in separate cages, but every few days I moved them a little closer.
In April, we prepared a special breeder's cage. I knew it wouldn't work if I put one of them into the other's individual cage, because the owner of the cage territory would be highly likely to dominate the other. Thus, we chose to build a larger flight cage that would be new territory for both of them. The new flight also included a cork-lined wooden nest box. The cork was attached to the wood, inside and out, using chew-safe school glue.
I always supervise when I place two birds together for the first time. Here, I had to be somewhat tactful about it, so that Arthur wouldn't showboat trying to impress me, his former mate. Both of the birds happened to be molting, perhaps shedding some winter feathers, and Gwen went immediately to Arthur and tried to preen him. He did realize that I was there, and he nipped at her and tried to drive her away. So she stretched out long and on tippy-toe and began to preen him from a distance away. After about 10 minutes, he realized it felt good. In 20 minutes, he was grooming her back. My notes say, They were inseparable the rest of the day.
I had been replaced.
Within days, they were using — and chewing — the nestbox. I'd placed them together for the first time on April 27, 1989. My notes for May 25 report, A. and G. get along beautifully, almost always sitting or playing in close contact with each other.
I did not realize that I'd put the birds together too late for that breeding season. However, on Feb. 24, 1990, I checked the nestbox and found that Gwen was sitting on two white eggs. She would incubate, while Arthur sat nearby to guard the entrance to the nestbox. He would go to bed early to be near her on the nest. This first clutch proved to be infertile, which is apparently common for new parents just learning the job. I removed the empty eggs after I candled them.
On March 18, 1990, I noticed that they were mating side by side to press vents together, instead of the more common position that most birds use where the male mounts the female. I don't know how common the side-by-side vent-pressing form of copulation is among the Conures, but I've seen it quite a few times over the years, so I guess it works for them. At the time, I was concerned that it wouldn't work to fertilize the eggs. In fact, I noted a full clutch of four eggs in the nestbox on March 24, 1990, but I didn't expect much. To my stunned amazement, when I returned from vacation on April 16, 1990, two of the eggs had hatched. The other two were indeed infertile, but my first chicks, Courtney and Ronnie, were out of their shell and on their way. 22 years later, these charming birds are still with me, and they're two of the stars of my little aviary.
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