Rose-headed (Rose-crowned) Conures
The Rose-crowned Conures or Parakeets (Pyrrhura rhodocephala) - also known as Rose-headed Conures or Parakeets - are South American conures that occur naturally in Western Venezuela, where they are fairly common.
They are one of the less common conure species to be kept as pets in the United States. Their lifespan is between 10 - 15 years.
Alternate (Global) Names:
Chinese: 赤头鹦哥 ... Czech: Papoušek rudohlavý ... Danish: Rødisset Conure ... Dutch: Roodkopparkiet ... Finnish: Punalakkiaratti ... French: Conure tête-de-feu, Perriche tête-de-feu, Perruche tête-de-feu ... German: Rotkopfsittich, Rotkopf-Sittich Rose-headed Parakeet ... Italian: Conuro corona rosa, Parrocchetto testarosa ... Japanese: zuakaurokoinko, ズアカウロコインコ ... Norwegian: Rødisset conure, Rosenkroneparakitt ... Polish: rudosterka czerwonoglowa, rudosterka czerwonogłowa ... Russian: Краемгоголовый краснохвостый попугай ... Slovak: klinochvost cervenohlavý, klinochvost červenohlavý ... Spanish: Cotorra Coronirroja, Perico de Cabeza Roja, Perico Cabecirrojo ... Swedish: Rödhuvad conur, Rosakronad parakit
Distribution / Range
The Rose-crowned Conure occurs naturally in the sub-tropical zone of the mountainous forests of northwestern Venezula, in the Andes at elevations from 4,920 - 8,200 feet (1,500 - 2,500 meters). They are mostly found in the state of Merida, Tachira, northern Barinas, Lara and northern Trujillo.
They inhabit humid forests, elfin woodland, forest edges and in partially wooded areas. They mostly remain in the tree tops, but will come to lower vegetation to feed.
Outside the breeding season, these sociable conures are usually seen in flocks of 10 - 30 birds and larger groups often gather in communal roost at night. When breeding, they typically remain in pairs.
Rose-crowned Conures measure about 9.3 - 9.8 inches (24 - 25 cm) in length - including its tail; and weigh 2.6 - 3 oz (75 - 85 grams).
As is typical of conures, they have bare, white eye rings. The eyes are brown. The bill is horn-colored. The legs, feet and toe nails are cinnamon in color.
The plumage is mostly green, except for the rose/red forehead, crown, back of head and lores (area between the beak and eyes). The tail and the feathers covering the ears (ear coverts) are maroon (brownish-red). There is a golden-brownish tinge to the throat and upper chest, and a maroon patch on the belly. The primary wing feathers are white, occasionally with some yellow feathers that may have blue edgings. The outer flight feathers are violet-blue.
Males and females look alike. DNA or surgical sexing is recommended to identify gender.
Juvenles look like adults, except there is a dull blue tinge to their green crowns (frontal band), with some scattered red feathers; or they have more red head feathers on the head and lack the blue frontal band, or they may have a creamy-colored frontal band. Their tails are green at the base. Their maroon ear coverts are less prominent. They have a pinkish patch under the throat.
Most breeding activities occur between April and June. It is believed that the average clutch consists of 4 - 6 eggs, which are incubated for about 23 - 24 days.
Rose-crowned Conures are generally less noisy than other Pyrrhura species. Their calls made in flight are less harsh; and the vocalizations when perched are either clear and sharp, or rapidly repeated notes.
Diet / Feeding
In the wild, they mostly feed on seeds, fruits, berries, flowers and various green foods.
Captive birds should be fed a good quality bird seed mix, with produce - such as vegetables, fruits and green foods - making up about 30 percent of their diet.
Suggested fruits are: apples, pears, oranges, pomegranates, cactus fruits and kiwis.
Suggested veggies: carrots, celery, green beans and peas in the pod; fresh corn on the cob, and green, leafy vegetables and herbs, such as Swiss chard, lettuce and dandelion.
Additionally, their diet is supplemented with soaked and sprouted sunflower seeds; cooked / sprouted beans and boiled maize.
Rose-crowned Conures as Pets or in Aviculture:
They are lively, energetic parrots that quickly grow confiding with their care takers. They are not as noisy as other conures, but can get noisy if alarmed. Most of their vocalizations are made in the mornings and evenings.
These energetic conures require a spacious aviary that offers plenty of space and room for branches, nesting / roosting boxes, feeding / watering dishes and toys; as well as a shelter to protect them from harsh weather conditions. The recommended minimum size is about 3 x 1 x 2m (10 x 3 x 6.5 ft).
In nature, they nest mostly in tree cavities. Captive birds usually readily accept a nest box that is 8" x 8" x 24" (20 cm x 20cm x 61 cm) in size.
For entertainment, provide bird-safe, unsprayed fir, pine, willow and elder branches (with or without leaves), heat- sterilized pine cones, wooden blocks, vegetable tanned leather pieces; swings, ropes and ladders.
Conures are intelligent, friendly (provided they have been well socialized) and active. They adapt easily to human contact and are easily trained. They are bold and independent and yet generally have a very sweet personality and they are growing fast in popularity.
They can learn to talk, although not clearly. They are among the quietest conures, but their shrill voices could potentially upset the neighbors of apartment dwellers or annoy those that are sensitive to noise. Like other conures, they tend to express excitement with a series of loud, shrill screams.
Like many parrots, they also like dunking their food into their drinking water -- creating a messy soup requiring the water to be changed frequently. A water bottle may be a good choice, if you are not able to change the water several times a day.
Many of them enjoy bathing or showering with their owners. Bathing water needs to be provided daily.
- Click here for information on the benefits of bathing and recommendations.
Conures generally loves to eat fruits and vegetables, which should be provided to them daily in addition to a good quality seed mix. Please click here to learn more about their diet.
These Conures have big personalities for such small birds. Owners report that they are smart and interactive, but are also more prone to behavioral problems than are cockatiels or budgies - but this would be the case with any conure. They all require a committed owner who will work with their pets to guide their behavior, while cockatiels and budgies are "beginner birds."
Conures are cuddly birds.
However, individual differences do exist, as some maroon-bellied conures will accept cuddling only on their terms. But these are the exception to the rule. Most seem to thoroughly enjoy cuddling whenever their favorite human is available.
They love to play!
They are very active parrots that like to play, explore and chew. Lots of toys are recommended to keep their beaks from "getting busy" on your furniture.
They are Smart!
Most will hold their own with any of the mid-sized or medium-large parrots in terms of smartness. They can be taught simple tricks pretty easily and more complicated tricks with some training.
How much attention do they need?
Like all parrots, they are social birds. They do require daily interaction with their social group, entertainment, things to do -- or else they will become bored and develop behavioral problems. In the wild, they would never leave the company of their flockmates. In a captive pet situation, a hand-fed conure requires the same social interaction from you and your family.
If you have little time to give, a parrot would not be a good choice for you. You would need someone at home several hours a day at a minimum, preferably someone should be home most of the day. I would recommend that there be people at home, with the bird, for at least several hours every day or the majority of day.
It's best to keep your pet conure where the center of activity is, usually the family room, and leave the cage door open or allow your pet to be on a playpen whenever someone is at home. During this time some direct interaction should be provided, such as talking to your pet, petting it, or placing it on your shoulder while you surf the internet, watch tv or go about your other activities. My parrot even joins me in the gym!
Do they make good family pets?
In general, conures make good family pets as long as they have been well socialized. They don't mind a lot of activity - in fact, the more "fun stuff" is going on, the more entertained and happier they tend to be. They usually get along well with all family members, although they are likely to eventually choose a favorite; but as long as they are exposed to, and socialized by, other family members, they should maintain their friendliness with the others. Conures love to be touched and handled - another reason why they often do well with kids.
However, they go through nippy phases that can be hard on children as well as on adults. Teaching the child appropriate handling of the conure will help prevent some painful experiences - however, it will never entirely eliminate them. The tamest pet bird gets startled and bites - without this being a true reflection on its personality. It's a natural reaction. Experienced pet owners learn to read the body language of their pets and can avoid most of these "accidental encounters." Training is important to prevent an accidental bite from turning into a behavioral problem.
It is difficult to instruct smaller children on proper parrot handling, and their interactions with the conure should always be supervised. But children who have learned to handle the conure gently and confidently usually don't have a big problem with aggression. How well the child-parrot interaction goes really depends on the maturity level of the child, as well as the proper socialization-level of the parrot. Admittedly though, some genetics come into play as well. Some individual parrots are more aggressive than others. Often this is a family trait and one parrot pair produces sweet babies, while others produce nippy offspring. Sweet babies can turn nippy, if not socialized well, and nippy (usually nervous / fearful birds) can be taught to be good family pets. Birds do pick up on stress and anger that we humans may feel and this can impact their personality and likelihood to be aggressive towards us. It is always best to approach a bird calmly and focus on, and enjoy, the interaction with the parrot rather than reflecting on problems in your life. Doing so will actually be conducive to your own health, as it will help you relax.
There never will be a guarantee that a meaningful relationship between the children in the family and the pet parrot develops and if things don't go well, the conure may end up being a pet for the adults only. For this reason, it is not recommended to buy a parrot as a pet for the kids - this needs to be a family pet, with the adults taking on most of the responsibility.
Conures, albeit their smaller size, do present their challenges, and they are not the best "starter" birds, although some species (including the maroon-tailed conure featured on this page) are easier to keep than others. It really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
Conures can be noisy (although less so than other conures). They can be prone to biting, particularly when young, but an owner can cure this behavior with patience and time. Behavioral issues can be avoided or minimized with proper handling and socialization.
Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation. Behavioral challenges that conures present include:
- Excessive Chewing: Any parrot will chew. In nature, they use their beak to "customize" their favorite tree, to enlarge the size of their nest in a tree hollow. Doing this keeps their beaks in good condition. The problem is excessive and undesirable chewing. Undisciplined conures will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. The owner needs to provide plenty of "healthy" chewing opportunities (bird toys, natural wood branches, etc.) and training is necessary to teach your pet what is "off-limits."
- Biting: Conures can become nippy. Like most parrots they are likely to discover their beaks as a method of "disciplining us" once they are out of the "baby stage." This being said, some maroon-bellied conures never bite a person in their lives; and most bite rarely, but may do so during certain periods in their lives or under certain circumstances. However, there are a few maroon-bellied conures that are very aggressive and will bite a lot. It depends on the individual, and also a great deal on how that conure was raised and socialized. Nippiness and biting are probably the most common behavioral complaint from their owners. It really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before undesirable habits have been established.
- The "Noise" Factor: Along with other Pyrrhura conures, the maroon-bellied conures are only moderately loud, therefore making acceptable pets for apartment dwellers for the most part. However, they are still noisy enough to potentially upset the neighbors of apartment dwellers or annoy those that are sensitive to noise. Like other conures, they tend to express excitement with a series of loud, shrill screams.
Training and behavioral guidance will help your pet be the kind of companion you want it to be ...
- AvianWeb Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit this website for valuable tips on parrot behavior and training. If you found a way to resolve a "parrot behavioral issue" please share it with others.
- If you are, as I am, a visual learner and prefer step-by-step instructions to train your pet, I recommend:
- Procuring your Parrot
- Housing & Caring for Your Conure: Conures love to climb and play and need to be provided with a cage that allows them to move around freely and toys to entertain themselves with. Please refer to the following websites for information:
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