PYRRHURA CONURES BASICS
by Sally Blanchard
I am not familiar with many of the individual species of Pyrrhura conures since they aren’t common as companions. I have worked with or met Green-cheeks (P.molinae), Yellow-sided (P.molinae sordida mutation), Maroon-bellies (P.frontalis), Painted (P.picta), Black-capped (P.rupicola), and Souance (P.melanura souancei). I have really fallen for a little Black-capped Conure named Tia. She defines the word “cute.”Pyrrhura conures are slim little birds with big personalities. These diminutive dynamos are quieter than the bigger conures but they seem to have a few similar personality traits. They are acrobatic, playful and generally “full of themselves.” They like to keep busy with lots of little tasks. These are another bird who seem to think that the people in their lives are there to serve as a personal playgym. Even though they are small, have a small beak, and have a reputation for being quiet; it is still important to set rules for them. They need daily out of the cage time and to be handled and played with regularly.Don’t let their little beak fool you. Pyrrhura conures can become nippy and guidance is just as important for them as it is for bigger parrots. I recommend keeping a chewable foot toy like knots of leather or clean cloth nearby to stick in their face to chew on instead of your fingers. They can often stay affectionate with several people in their human flock if everyone handles them. These adventuresome birds need close supervision when they are out of their cages. I have met several of these little explorers who have gotten themselves into trouble. One little guy decided to roll in fire place ashes and another climbed the trellis off of his apartment’s patio and his caregiver had to climb the trellis to get him back. The little conure eneded up climbing down and meeting him halfway.These little gems are usually referred to as conures in the world of aviculture and companion parrots but in ornithology they are usually referred to as parakeets. There are about 26 species of Pyrrhura conures (depending on reference sources) with many subspecies. There are some birds that were considered to be separate species that are now considered subspecies of another species and several birds that were considered subspecies are now considered to be separate species. Several Pyrrhura species are in trouble in the wild; some are threatened while others are endangered.Most Pyrrhuras have complex feather patterns and it can be easy for a novice (and even a person with parrot experience like myself) to confuse the various species and sub-species. Many of the Pyrrhura conures that are now fairly common were very rare in aviculture and as companions until the 1970s and 1980s. Others were imported during the time that it was legal but are now rare in aviculture because they have not been consistently bred. It is also difficult to know the behavioral differences between the various species that are kept in aviculture and as human companions.