by: Nikki Moustaki
The largest member of the conure family, the Patagonian conure, is also one of the most unique-looking species in its family. This species measures about 18 to 20 inches long, and is the only member of its genus.
The three subspecies are the greater, the lesser and the Andean. The greater is the largest of the subspecies and has more white plumage on the breast; the Andean has the darkest plumage of the three, with less yellow and the lesser has a splash of white on the shoulders. The lesser and the Andean originate in Argentina, and the greater originates in central Chile. The lesser is the most available in the United States and can even be found in a “dilute” mutation, with lighter plumage. The greater is extremely endangered in the wild, with just a few thousand remaining.
The Patagonian isn’t the flashiest of conures, so it’s often not on the A-list (the sun conure, jenday and blue-crowned), but it’s gaining in popularity as breeders see more success in their nest boxes.
Though most of the bird is olive green, it does have yellow, red, white and blue plumage. The Patagonian makes up for its duller plumage with size and personality.
Patagonian conures are also called burrowing parrots because the burrow into sandstone cliffs to lay eggs. They are often seen in large colonies.
Hand-raised Patagonians are extremely gregarious and playful. They aren’t perch potatoes, preferring to play with toys and chew anything they can find. Patagonians have gotten a bad rap for being very loud. Conures in general can create a racket and the Patagonian is no different. It is certainly not as loud as a cockatoo or an Amazon. Some can even become good talkers. These sociable birds get attached to their humans, and can become one person birds. They need everyday attention to remain sweet and tame. These birds like athletic interaction and play, and can get into trouble if left alone outside their cage.
Patagonian housing should be as large as the owner can afford. If the cage is too small, the tail will become ratty-birds with long tails need ample housing. This active bird needs room to fly and play, so an aviary or large flight cage is best.
These birds are competent escape artists, so cage doors should have bird-proof locks. They like to forage on the ground in the wild, so the cage should have a grate and be kept clean to prevent the bird from foraging in its own waste. A variety of toys is essential for the Patagonian. They enjoy puzzle toys and toys that they can dismantle and chew. Perches will need to be replaced regularly because of this species propensity for chewing. Hard wooden perches are best. Rope perches can pose a danger for birds that have a chewing mania and should be used with supervision.
This species loves to bathe, so large bathing dishes and watering cups will be appreciated. Stainless-steel cups are ideal because they are easy to clean and last a long time.
A Patagonian’s diet should consist of a wide variety of food, including seeds, pellets, fruits, vegetables, cooked diets and some safe table foods.
Patagonian Conure Facts
- The Patagonian is the largest member of the conure family, ranging from 18 to 20 inches in length.
- They lay eggs in nests they carve into sandstone cliffs.
- They are social birds and need hands-on interaction with a guardian every day.
- These birds like puzzle toys, soft wooden chew toys and calcium block toys.
- Life span for this species is thought to be 25 to 30 years.
Check out Nikki Moustaki's websites: www.dogfessions.com, www.birdfessions.com, and www.parrotpod.com.