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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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8:01 p.m. 2013-02-24

arthur's last day -- tragedy strikes

Awhile back, I told the story of Arthur and Gwen, my first breeding pair of peachfronted conures. They were the parents of my first baby peachfronts, Courtney and Ronnie, who are still going strong more than 22 years later.

For the breeding timeline that goes from when I first took Arthur home in 1982 until the fledgling of Courtney and Ronnie in May 29, 1990, click right here. That's where you get the details of how I transferred a sweet pet of many years into a loving and successful father.

Alas, the rest of the story is not as happy. I include it because it's important to reflect the sorrows, as well as the joys, that come with breeding parrots.

Once Courtney and Ronnie were fledged, then I eventually moved them to their own flight. Arthur and Gwen continued together as affectionate mates.

And so the hand-written diary continues...

May 12, 1991: Arthur and Gwen had two chicks, one hatched 4-7 -91 (Dale) and one hatched 4-9-91 (Harry).

Arthur & Gwen seemed to be feeding well. Today I pulled the two chicks at midday to finish weaning.

At 5:45 I went out and saw Arthur on the floor, so I picked him up and took him in. He appeared unhurt and also very fat and full, however, he couldn't grip and within a few minutes he started to breathe with a clicking sound, let out a small cry, opened his wings, and died in my hands in the seizure. I didn't even have a chance to find the Vs in the phone book.

To this day, I have never forgotten how Arthur seemed to wait for me to pick him up and hold him before he passed on. His final sigh was his last good-bye.

May 19, 1991: DH took Arthur to Dr. [vet's name] the next day. He took tissue samples. Said it could be Pacheco's. We had to give anti-virus medicine (Zovirax) to all hookbills for 4 days. I watched anxiously but so far the others are playful and healthy.

Of course, Arthur seemed healthy until the last minute but this is how Pacheco's works.

We had to pour chlorine bleach where we buried him. Very upsetting!!!

I gave the babies back to Gwen so that she could give them medicine in food. Gwen hates me. She gives me dirty looks and tries to bite me and pull on my clothes. I know she thinks I have Arthur and could give him back if I wanted. It is so sad.

Dale tried to fly Saturday. I took him out and played with him, giving him eggfood and letting him rest on stand, for about 1-1/2 hour. Then I put him back in the nest when he got sleepy.

I took out both babies for about 45 minutes today. They are very quiet and patient. I hope they are OK. Harry, the younger, does not have a very strong grip.

Ronnie and Courtney are always playing together. They cry if they are separated. They yell at mockingbirds.

June 6, 1991. Arthur died of a protozoa (malaria)2 that went out of the blood, where conures usually have no symptoms, into his liver. When the babies hatched all at once in his liver, he died. Probably came from a mosquito bite, can't be transmitted bird to bird except by an exchange of blood.

I eventually learned that many peachfront conures imported from Bolivia in the early 1980s were infected by malaria, a disease that was much more prevalent in that country then than it is today.

Oct. 11, 1991. Babies: Dale & Harry are big, healthy, tame. Bigger than Courtney and Ronnie. Have to be kept separate because sometimes they quarrel.

Note: I still have 21-year-old Dale, who is thriving to this day.

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Stay tuned. I will publish more episodes from the peachfront conure files soon.

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