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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4:55 p.m. 2013-03-31
an unplanned breeding attempt in 2003
My first breeding timeline followed the story of an imported pair of peachfront conures who were successful because of careful planning and encouragement. Now, I'm telling a more cautionary tale about what to expect when two pets that you don't plan to breed do it anyway.
You can find part one of the 2003 timeline, "An unexpected chick," by clicking right here. That entry will fill you in on the story of why I think Courtney and Ronnie decided to breed, even though I hadn't encouraged them to.
June 6, 2003
When I checked on the nestbox this morning, Ronnie was still sitting tight, but the baby was suspiciously still. I checked more closely and confirmed the sad news -- the new chicklet, although bigger and with more white "fuzz" on it than yesterday morning, had died. Of the other two eggs, one is suspiciously light and almost certainly infertile. I don't know about the other one. I removed the dead baby, and Ronnie returned to sitting tightly. I'm disappointed after all their hard work and care but hatchlings do have a high mortality rate, especially with new parents that are just learning the ropes, so perhaps we'll have better luck next year.
Perhaps the last egg will even hatch. But, at this point, I doubt it.June 7, 2003:
Ronnie is still sitting tight but I inveigled her to sit up for a moment, revealing a second hatchling, pink and covered with a white fuzz. The chicklet didn't speak but was moving restlessly if blindly, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Courtney is still on watch, bringing food and scolding cats or grackles that drift into the yard.
It is a sleepy morning, with lots of rain. Gray sky, bright green foliage, vivid red Salvia and geraniums, vivid red-orange daylilies around the pond, bright pink Echinacea purpurea in the hummingbird garden.
June 8, 2003
Now we're talking seriously cute. The baby is quiet but active, with lots of fluff. Ronnie is still sitting tight, and Courtney is beautifully attentive.
June 9, 2003
Today when I checked the nestbox, Ronnie was still sitting tight, but the little one peeped out his cute pink blind face and let out a couple of not-too-loud croaks. I think it's an encouraging sign that he's beginning to vocalize.
It is supposed to get up to 95 degrees today, with little chance of rain. I worry that the heat will be bothersome, since they left breeding so late, but moving them around would be even worse, and they really don't seem to particularly mind the summer heat. The porch is (relatively) cool and shaded, with mosquito netting over hardware cloth for extra protection. All of the rodent holes have been plugged, and I haven't seen any indication of any more uninvited visitors.
June 10, 2003
It's hotter than hades -- supposedly 95 degrees yesterday, just as hot or hotter today in my opinion. When I went onto the bird porch, Ronnie had actually left the nest box for the first time in ages, sparking a moment's panic until I checked to see that the baby was OK. I guess there is no sensible reason to incubate a chick when it's hot enough to fry eggs.
Both parents were keeping an anxious eye on the nestbox however, and Courtney peeked in to make sure everything was copacetic after I checked the chick. They are so attentive that it's precious.
June 11, 2003
A dark morning for thunderstorms. The caterpillar has almost finished the dill. He is huge. The baby peachfront is almost perfectly round from being stuffed with food. I am thinking of naming the little one Xalapa but haven't made up my mind for sure. As I don't know if Xalapa is masculine or feminine, to my mind, it is a good name whatever the chicklet turns out to be, with just a hint of the exotic.
I then had to leave town for a few days, leaving the bird with a good sitter, so there's a gap in my notes.
June 17, 2001
I'm back from Panama, and of course I rushed to the nestbox to see how the baby was doing. Even though it was already dark, I could see that Ronnie was no longer sitting in the nestbox, so I knew in my heart before I checked and saw for myself. The baby chick died, perhaps the very morning I left for my trip, as he didn't look any bigger.
I tend to blame a combination of inexperienced parenting, with Ronnie sitting almost ridiculously tight, and the extremely hot weather because they hatched their eggs so late. I really don't think poor nutrition could be a factor, as I was feeding the Zupreem and then the Exact conure pellets, and both parent birds are looking so well filled out with beautiful glowing feathers.
There is the usual self questioning. Could the baby have been saved by handfeeding and endless fussing? But, despite doubts at dark moments like this, I know that I made the decision to allow the parents to raise their own chicks for very good reasons. I want my birds to be aware that they are birds and to have the ability to understand and enjoy their own kind, as well as humans. And it is very difficult to do that with a bird who first opens his eyes to see a human hand giving him food.
I'm hoping Ronnie and Courtney will take a rest now for the summer.
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