Dusky-headed or Weddell's Conures
The Dusky-headed Parakeet (Aratinga weddellii) is also known as the Weddell's Conure or Dusky-headed Conure.
Distribution / Range
This Dusky-headed Conure Is endemic to and common in the western Amazon Basin, specifically South-eastern Colombia South through Eastern Ecuador to Eastern Peru, North-eastern Bolivia, Western Mato Grosso and Brazil.
These parrots prefer semi-open habitats, such as várzea, forest edge and forest remnants. However, they also occur in coffee plantations. It is generally common and its habitat preference makes it less vulnerable than many other Amazonian species.
This social conure is usually found in pairs or small groups. In areas where food is plenty, they may form flocks of up to 100 members.
Dusky-headed Conures are not common in the pet trade, but their popularity is increasing.
- Price: Between $200 - $250 - depending on source, location and availability.
Diet / Feeding:
Their main diet consists of fruit, seeds and flowers. They will also search decaying wood for insect larvae. They ingest mineral-rich soil, e.g. from a clay lick, as a supplement.
Breeding / Nesting:
The pair raises their offspring together, nesting in woodpecker holes in trees or arboreal termite nests.
Dusky Conures are around 10 to 11 inches or 25-28 cm long (from beak to tip of tail) and weigh around 90-100 grams. They are slightly smaller than the sun conures.
This long-tailed species is generally green in color; except the tip of the wing feathers and the tail feathers are blue.
Blue mutations are rare, but do exist in captivity.
The head is grey-brown. They have a blue-tipped tail and remiges (flight feathers - typically only visible in flight) that are dark gray from below, mainly blue from above.
The bill is black, and it has a broad bare white (sometimes yellow-tinged) eye-ring.
A blue mutation can be found in aviculture, although it is a rare find.
Both sexes look alike - if the gender is important (for example as would be the case with breeding birds), surgical or DNA sexing is strongly recommended.
They are not known for their talking ability, but they are fun-loving, friendly and like to be cuddled - provided they have been hand-raised and properly socialized.
They are not as active or as noisy as some of the other species of conures, but they do tend to get loud when they get excited. Mostly, they are said to make a pleasant chirping sound.
Conures as Pets (Suitability, Personality, Pros & Cons, Care Requirements)
They are relatively easy to breed. The nest box should be around 10 x 10 x 18 inches. They can have several clutches a year; however, good breeding practices stipulate that they should be allowed to have more than two or three clutches to allow them to rest, which is important for their health. The usual clutch size is 3 to 4 eggs, which are incubated for about 23 days. Both parents raise the young. The chicks fledge after about 50 days.
Below are the dimensions of nesting boxes usually used for these conures. However, the dimensions can vary widely, as they are influenced by the owner's and the birds' preferences. The preferences of the breeding birds can also be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which the bird was hatched and reared.
If space allows, offering a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, and placed in various locations within the aviary, can allow the parent birds to make their own choice. Once a pair has chosen a specific nest-box/log and been successful in it, offer that one to them each breeding season. Try and keep that one for their exclusive use. Once a pair has chosen its log or nest-box, the other ones can generally be removed. If the "spare" boxes are to be removed and moved to another flight, ensure the log / nest-box is cleaned to ensure the receptacle has the minimal contamination of mites, parasites and pathogens.
Log / Nest-box:
Marcy Covault from Feathered Companions Aviary suggests using a deeper box, either a bootbox or a vertical grandfather box (18" - 24" deep). Some conures do accept cockatiel-sized boxes, but using a deeper box will reduce the conures' tendency to remove the shavings and lay their eggs on the bare wooden base.
- Length / depth: approx. 16 - 24 inches (400 - 600 mm)
- Log / nest-box internal dimensions approx. 10 inches square (250 mm square)
- Diameter of entrance hole: approx. 3 inches ( ~70 - 80 mm)
- Inspection hole: Can be square or round, approx. 4 inches (100 mm) in diameter.
- A Removable top / lid can be a useful access point for inspections and for cleaning.
- Location and height of log / nest-box: Install in a sheltered part of the aviary at about 5 feet (~1.5 - 1.8 meters) height, but not too close to the roof to cause heat problems in the hotter months.
- Angle of log or nest box: 45 degrees through to vertical. Most boxes are vertical.
- Nesting log / nest-box material: Options are decomposed non-toxic saw dust, corn cob, wood shavings (i.e., Aspen shavings) or other suitable materials. Please note that wood shavings - such as pine, cedar and redwood - give off aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols) and acids that are toxic and can cause dermatitis, allergic symptoms and irritation of the digestive tract. They should not be used in cages, aviaries, or nestboxes. The larger the wood chips the better, so the parents don't feed it to the babies or the chicks accidentally ingest it. Other options for nesting material include shredded paper and dried grass.
- Incubation: Both hen and cock share in incubating the eggs.
Conures have a habit of removing all the nest box material and laying their eggs on the bare wooden base.
Nest inspection is generally not tolerated. If nest inspection is necessary, wait till both parents have left the nest. They can be aggressive and protective of the nest area when breeding.
For additional breeding-related information, please visit this website.
Genus: Scientific: Aratinga ... English: Conures ... Dutch: Wigstaartparkieten ... German: Keilschwanzsittiche ... French: Aratinga
Species: Scientific: Aratinga weddellii aka Eupsittula weddellii ... English: Dusky-headed Conure, Weddell's Conure ... Dutch: Weddels Aratinga, Bruinkop Aratinga ... German: Braunkopfsittich ... French: Perruche de Weddellii ... CITES II - Endangered
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