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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9:16 a.m. 2013-03-31
Surprised by a New Peachfront Conure Chick -- How Does That Even Happen?
My previous breeding timeline focused on telling the story of how I worked to make my imported peachfronted conures happy and secure enough to breed. But we all know that parrots have minds of their own. Now I'd like to tell the story of what happened when I wasn't trying to get my domestic home-bred peachfronts to breed because 1) the birds in question who were imprinted on each other were the siblings, Ronnie and Courtney, and 2) I was traveling a great deal and couldn't monitor the project closely.
These notes came from the 2003 spring season. Even though I didn't provide the special dark cork to simulate the texture of the dark termite nest they would use in nature, and even though I didn't provide special "egg" foods, the dazzling duo still made a try for it.
June 4, 2003:
A suspicion has been growing in my mind over the last few weeks -- a suspicion that I hesitated to write about for fear that it would turn out to be wishful thinking.
Today, that suspicion was confirmed.
Courtney is indeed a male, and Ronnie a female, and I can be confident of this fact without surgical sexing because, quite simply, for the first time ever, after 13 years, they have hatched out a bouncing pink naked chick. Whoo-hoo to the proud parents.
Ronnie is sitting very tight, so I wasn't able to get a picture of the baby, since I didn't want to keep pestering them. But I did catch a picture of the broken eggshell from which the cute pink chicklet escaped.
[Peachfront's note: I was able to grab the picture later, obviously.]
How could this have happened? Over the years, I had begun to doubt my initial impressions of the birds and even openly speculated that they might both be females, because of the lack of fertile eggs. Courtney, once a runt, became not fat but rather so settled in his appearance that the word "matronly" slipped into my mind more than once. Indeed, when he injured his eye earlier in the year, because of the extra weight and because he wasn't being his usual grouchy self, I mixed him up with Ronnie and indeed put Ronnie's name on his vet paperwork.
I only noticed after returning him to the flight that the bird with the squinty eye was acting very masculine and protective of the other bird. So it was Courtney who had the hurt eye, and Courtney who was so tolerant of my handling through the weeks of treatment -- and Courtney who now, day and night, guards the nest and feeds Ronnie so that she never has to leave.
Why now, after so many years? I have a two-pronged speculation:
Being separated for Courtney's vet care in late winter/early spring gave them a greater impetus to actually mate instead of cuddle when they were placed back together.
Every year, in May, I have to move the flight cages to the back aviary for the termite inspection and treatment. For some reason, the bill came later this year. Well, yesterday I went ahead and mailed in the payment, with a note requesting that we delay the inspection a few more weeks. In the future, I will need to find a way to permanently move my annual inspection to the fall or winter months, or else I will need to drop Terminix and find a different way to handle the termite situation. I've got plenty of time to do the research and learn about my alternatives.
For today, a tip of the steaming hot tea to Courtney, Ronnie, and their cute new chick.
Stay tuned. The rest of the story is coming soon...
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