Rose-Fronted Conures
(Pyrrhura picta roseifrons)

by David T. Longo

Longo�s Aviaries Inc.
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

The first day I laid my eyes on these little jewels of Brazil was about two and a half years ago at the most diverse parrot collection in the world, "Loro Parque" in Tenerife, Spain. Rose-fronted Conures are from the Genus Pyrrhura and are one of 8 subspecies of the Painted Conures. The most striking of their description is quite interesting, their head is approximately three quarters full of fluorescent pink, their breasts are scalloped with white lining the outside of the breast feathers and have burgundy red feathers on their belly below the breast to their vent.

I obtained a single pair shortly after returning from Spain. When I first saw they were available here, I was instantly committed to adding them to my collection. Although they were pretty expensive at the time, I was in love with them. I immediately began some research on their likes and dislikes, needs and natural resources for consumption.

During their stay here, I tried to make them feel as much at home as possible. Being parent-raised stock, they were pretty skittish. I provided privacy to one side of the cage where the nestbox was by adding non-toxic plants. I built a double insulated nestbox in the shape of an "L". The box measured 10" vertical by 10" horizontal by 7" squared rectangle all the way through. One nestbox was built then was surrounded by styrofoam and another box was built around it. This method with the styrofoam was used to prevent noise from the other closer larger pairs of birds penetrating the nestbox. Their cage size is in this breeding were setup in a 2'x2'x4' long cage with 1"x1" mesh. I also had at least 3 perches of varying diameter from 1/4" to 3/4" at all times. This pair seemed pretty content and noticed a lot of their natural instincts were taught well from their parents. This is what I wanted to preserve their nature to teach their own young to be Rose-fronteds as well. They use their alarm calls quite frequently when daily patterns are broken. (Different people, other birds escaping in the aviaries, etc.) In a sense, they are very paranoid of everything to ensure their survival on the lower food chain. The area they were in during the first season was shared with over 25 pairs of large parrots in less than half of an 1100 sq. ft. basement. In my opinion, this setup was not very ideal for the needs of the birds but practical, since then they have all moved to larger cages for flight opportunity and greater amounts of room to exercise. To ensure more reliable breeding was to give privacy to all pairs, for this I used visual barriers for most of the cages but did not for the roseifrons. As a result, they never showed interest in the nest during the day. They were always out calling and more concerned with the rest of the activities in the room. This clearly showed fear for their protection by seeing larger birds and may have seen them as predators or invading their private space.

They did not do anything in 1999 from our observations and they were also still young. They were under two years of age and this year they would be approximately two and a half. In October of 1999 I moved three quarters of the birds in the basement to the garage but kept the roseifrons in the basement along with two other pairs of mini-macaws. The following season, there was virtually no noise and no visual contact with any other birds or humans. Ironically, I kept this pair on top of one of the snake tanks where I have some Burmese Pythons. The roseifrons did not see the snakes therefore did not sense their presence. The snakes on the other hand smell food 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I noticed the female was being over preened on her head by the bald patches. Also found that they were spending the same amount of time in the nest but heard more squabbling taking place around May.

At this time I was feeding a very well varied seed diet consisting of 5 types of millets, hemp, oats, groats, milo, niger, buckwheat, canary seed and 1 or 2 others that I may have not addressed here. These seeds were also sprouted that I served to them. Sprouted beans consisted of moong, black, navy, fava, red kidneys, adzuki, chick peas and again a few others that I may have not addressed in this article. These servings almost always resulted in empty bowls. Fruits consisted of apples, pears, oranges, bananas, papaya, mango, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, honeydew, canteloupe, leechi nuts and no avocado. Vegetables also varied in consistency with red, yellow and green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, beets, yams and more others that were usually found in the refrigerator. There was no set pattern for all of these foods and varied diets as much as possible so they always looked forward to their daily meal. What was stressed was to provide diets as natural as possible and no soft foods or cooked beans were provided to them.

Approximately one month later I saw the female's vent area to be very plump. She laid her first egg a couple of days later on May 31st and then three more consecutively in one week to the 6th of April. The third egg had a chip in it and stopped the development of the egg due to dehydration. It dried out and died within 5 days of being laid. The first, second and fourth were all fertilized and the embryo was visible at about 3-4 days. The first egg began hatching on June 24th and the baby weighed an accurate 4.1 grams, the other two continued to hatch up to the 28 of June. The other two were also at 4 grams. At 15 days, they were banded with seamless aluminum rings. They were kept in the nest all to be raised by the parents. All the offspring were fully weaned by the first week of September and had immature colouration. This consisted of no pink colouring on the head and the scalloping on the breast was not as prominent as the parents but the rest pretty much resembled the mother and father. Now, the babies pink colouration on the head are blooming in more sporadic areas than the parents and the parents yet have not completely matured in colour. I intend to keep the offspring to trade for more unrelated bloodlines that are being more readily imported into Canada to ensure more unrelated pairs for the future!

Article snippets were referred to from Donald Brightsmith's article from the October 1999 issue of Bird Talk on the Genus Pyrrhura.

Dave T. Longo
Longo's Aviaries Inc.
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