Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Ali Shahid
The Patagonian Conure, scientifically known as Cyanoliseus patagonus, is the largest of all conure species and is often nicknamed “little clowns” for their lively personalities and active behavior. These birds are native to South America, primarily found in Argentina with small populations in Chile.
They thrive in arid conditions, deserts, savannahs, and open grasslands. Sadly, illegal trade has taken a toll on their numbers. Their diet mainly consists of fruits, vegetables, and seeds, with occasional treats like nuts or popcorn.
As flock creatures, it is crucial to get a conure at least eight months old as they won’t bond well if younger. The species faces threats and a decline in the wild due to historical hunting, killing as pests, and exporting to Europe for the pet trade.
Thankfully, most pets are now bred in captivity, aiding their recovery. Patagonian Conures are highly popular as pets in Europe, America, and Australia. Whether you own one or consider adopting, this article covers their care needs and highlights why they make fantastic pets.
|Overview of Patagonian Conure|
|Scientific Name||Cyanoliseus patagonus|
|Common Names||Patagonian Parrot, Burrowing Parrot, Greater Patagonian Conure|
|Colors||Olive-brown with greenish tinges|
|Personality||Energetic, Playful, Docile, and Friendly|
|Talking Ability||Can mimic some words and sounds|
|Lifespan||Up to 35 Years (World Parrot Trust)|
|IUCN Status||Least Concern|
Origin and History
This magnificent bird originates from South America, specifically, from the temperate rainforests of Chile. Also known as the burrowing parrot, Louis Pierre Vieillot first described it back in 1818 as Psittacus patagonus. Later, Charles Lucien Bonaparte changed its name to Cyanoliseus in 1854.
The species is quite unique since it is the only member of its genus, Cyanoliseus. Now, the locals in the region adore this bird for its friendly nature, small size, cute face, and vibrant colors. They even call them “little clowns” because they are so amusing and playful.
These parrots are mainly found in big parts of Argentina, but there are a few small groups in the Chilean province of Bio Bio too. What is fascinating is how well they adapt to harsh conditions, like the Monte Desert, and even open grasslands and savannahs near rivers and streams.
Argentina’s varied habitats seem to suit them just fine. In the past, they faced trouble due to illegal trade, and over 122,000 were used in pet markets worldwide.
Thankfully, strict laws came to their rescue, and their numbers are stable and even increasing now. Interestingly, they are closely related to Nanday Conures.
Size and Colors Marking
Patagonian Conures, the largest species of New World Conures, have a distinctive appearance that is enhanced by a combination of colors. Males, slightly bigger, weigh 253-340 g, while females weigh 227-304 g.
They measure 39-52 cm in length, with a wingspan of 23-25 cm, and possess a long, graduated tail (21-26 cm). The burrowing parrot stands out with its unique features: an eye-catching white eye ring and post-ocular patch, olive-brown head and upper back, and grey-brown throat and breast with whitish pectoral markings.
The lower thighs and center of the abdomen display an orange-red hue, indicating their breeding quality. Yellow is prominent in the lower back, upper thighs, rump, vent, and flanks, while the wings coverts are olive green.
The tail appears olive green from above and brown from below. Their bill is grey, the iris is yellow-white with pink legs. Immature birds resemble adults but with a horn-colored upper mandible patch and a pale grey iris
Though visually similar to us, the burrowing parrot exhibits sexual dichromatism. Males have more intense and larger abdominal red patches. Under UV light, males show bright green feathers, and females display bright blue feathers.
The burrowing parrot is a charming and affectionate companion, especially when hand-raised from chickhood. Developing a close bond with a hand-fed parrot is much easier. They thrive when kept with other birds, but if you decide to keep one alone, be prepared to invest a lot of time and affection.
These playful and energetic Patagonian conures love learning tricks and playing with various toys, especially enjoying puzzle games due to their intelligence. Training them is a breeze, as they are quick learners and can entertain with funny phrases and songs.
For inexperienced owners, professional training could be beneficial. While they are generally not nippy, they have a penchant for chewing, so keep hazardous items away when they are out of their cage.
To prevent attachment issues, ensure everyone in the family spends time with the parrot. Perfect for families with kids, this delightful bird can even pick up a few words and melodies with proper guidance.
Speech & Vocalizations
These parrots aren’t particularly noisy, but they are incredibly vocal. They can repeat simple words decently, but their true talent lies in mimicry. They can intimate doorbells, alarms, ringing, whistles, and other sounds with excellent accuracy.
The Patagonian Conure pet is capable of repeating its name and short common expressions with ease. Although this may seem charming, it is most appropriate to keep them in the home. Also, they have a high level of expressiveness and enjoy listening to music.
Breeding Patagonian Conure
According to its name, burrowing parrots dig intricate burrows in limestone or sandstone cliffs for nesting. It often forms intricate mazes leading to a nesting chamber, sometimes up to 3 meters deep.
During the breeding season, breeding pairs reuse their old burrows, although they may expand them as well. These monomorphic birds reach sexual maturity at about two years of age. Usually, the male guards or perches near the nesting box.
In captivity, breeding these conures is relatively straightforward. Finding a suitable nestbox or log they accept might pose a challenge. Past experiences influence their preferences, like the nestbox used by previous owners or their memories of the one they were raised in.
When uncertain about their preferences, provide various nestbox sizes and types in different aviary locations, allowing the birds to choose. Once they select a specific nestbox or log successfully, keep it exclusively for them each breeding season.
Breeding occurs from September to December, with clutches consisting of two to five eggs. During the incubation period, between 24 and 25 days, the female is responsible for incubating the eggs while the male is responsible for providing food for them.
It has been observed that hatchlings emerge irregularly, with mortality rates being higher among the fourth and fifth chicks. Both parents nurture the chicks.
During the first four months after hatching, fledglings are dependent on their parents and begin to leave the nest around late December or early February.
How to Care for Patagonian Conures?
Choose the right-sized cage as the first step to your burrowing parrot’s new home. Conures generally require a cage with 24 inches of depth, width, and height. Patagonian conures, being larger, need even more space, so consider a bigger cage or an outdoor aviary, but don’t go below this minimum size.
Make sure the bar spacing is between 5/8 inches and ¾ inches. Clean the cage weekly and disinfect it yearly. Provide fresh water and food dishes daily. To prevent your bird from flying out of an open window, trim its wings. If the beak and nails get overgrown, trim them too.
Large birds like them need daily time outside the cage to avoid boredom. Be prepared for lots of noise if they’re left alone in the cage for too long. That’s why an aviary is a happier place for them to have more flying space.
Diet and Nutrition
Feeding your Patagonian Conure a healthy diet is crucial for its well-being. A mix of top-notch seeds, fresh fruits, veggies, and animal protein is key. Feed them regularly, at least once daily, but be cautious of obesity and food spoilage. If your bird stops eating for over a day, consult a vet immediately.
You can substitute some cooked fruits and veggies for their seed mix. Just avoid any seeds or harmful stuff. They adore baked apples in muffins and pancakes!
Offer raw or cooked vegetables and fruits, ensuring their quality. Remember, some foods good for you may poison them, like blueberries.
Keep pine and cedar cones handy; they love snacking on those. But smooth out any rough bits to avoid harm.
Common Health Problems
The Patagonian conure makes a tough pet due to its adaptation to harsh climates, enabling it to endure outdoor living year-round. However, stress or overcrowding may trigger feather-picking.
Also, be cautious about housing them with other bird species as they can carry the hidden herpes virus and transmit it. These parrots usually manage their grooming, but occasional baths and nail trims can offer a little pampering. Stay vigilant and ensure their well-being!
Patagonian Conure for Sale and Price
Getting your hands on a Patagonian Conure isn’t too complicated. You can check out local shelters, and pet stores, or browse online. But be cautious; research the places thoroughly before making a decision. Ensure they know about the species and provide proper care.
Opt for specialty bird stores or reputable breeders for a healthier and more socialized pet. Patagonian Conures are quite common, so you will likely find them in local pet shops or online sellers.
Prices range from $500 to $1200 depending on age and source. Stay sharp and choose wisely to give your new feathered friend the best start!
Brennan, Sandi. “Patagonian Conures.” AFA Watchbird 21.3: 27-28.
Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.