Thursday, 20 October 2016

Raising Green-cheeked Conures

Q: I just bought a proven pair of green-cheeked conures for breeding. I have received different advice from several people. The person I bought my birds from used a cockatiel nest box, and I've been told they won't breed if I use that box. Some people told me to use a metal box. I also received different information on diet. Some said seed, some said nothing except pellets, some said mix pellets and seed, and one person told me I have to feed breeding birds high-protein pellets and nothing else. Another said conures can't have high protein. How should I take care of these green-cheeked conures?

green-cheeked conures care
People are unique, and they do things in dissimilar ways. Bird breeders are no exception. You can talk to 10 different breeders on the same subject and get 10 different answers. The 10 different answers you receive could be all right, all wrong or a mix of right and wrong answers. Bird breeders tend to do things differently from each other even if they are working with the same species. It can be confusing and frustrating because what works for one person may or may not work for you.

Concerns For New Arrivals

The green-cheeked conures (Pyrrhura molinae) you purchased were a proven pair. If the people you purchased them from had bred them successfully in a cockatiel nest box, I suggest that you duplicate that box as closely as possible. Because this is the type of box this pair has successfully raised young in, it is obviously the type of box they are happy with. It does not mean that they will not successfully raise young in a nest box with a different style, shape or material.

However, if you know something works, why would you want to change it? The cockatiel nest box style and shape is not dangerous for the birds, so I recommend staying with what you know works. Using the same size and style of cage and nest box and not drastically changing the birds' diet can make the transition much easier for the new pair and cause minimal disruption in the breeding cycle. Try to keep the length of day close to what they had at their previous home as well. I also recommend starting them off on the same feeding schedule and slowly adjusting the feeding schedule to your own schedule.

All newly purchased birds and any birds that left your facility and returned (such as from a sale or show) should be quarantined. During this quarantine period, the new birds should be watched carefully to see that they are adjusting well to their new home. Any and all testing should be done during this period. Discuss testing with your vet, as well as the recommended length of quarantine. Set a specific quarantine length for all birds arriving at your facility. My quarantine period is a minimum of 90 days, and I am fortunate to be able to quarantine off-site. Many times length varied from six months or longer before I brought them into my flock. Currently, I do not plan to add any new birds to my flock, but if I did for some reason, I would still follow the outlined period and quarantine off-site.

Raising Green-cheeked Conures

Much of the adjustment the new birds need to make occurs during the quarantine period and in the area you designate for that purpose. Housing the green cheeks in a separate area from the birds you currently own makes it easy to adjust schedules without disturbing the routine of your other birds. You may slowly adjust the new birds' daylight to fit into that of your own flock. Major changes should not be made at once. Likewise, drastically modifying a diet can cause an extremely poor breeding season. Parents may not feed chicks or go to nest that season. Similar results can be expected regarding changes to the length of day.

When you feel you want or must change the type of nest box your birds have been accustomed to using, supply the pair with both their old box and a new box. This gives the pair the ability to choose. If they refuse entry into the new box and use their original one, I would rethink the reasoning behind the nest box change.

Feeding Hints

Diet dos and don'ts have been controversial for the 30-plus years I have been breeding birds. I've been told and have read that the controversy existed long before, and I have no doubt it will continue for years to come. On the basis of marketing alone, every company says it "has the best," claims "nothing can compare," and "all diets are researched and tested." Products for birds are really not any different than the products we buy for our own everyday use. Individuals prefer different brands, types, flavors, colors and so on. I don't think we will ever see the day when a company states that its product isn't any better or different than another. 
feeding conures

At this time, regardless of the diet your green-cheeked conures have been fed, I recommend that you duplicate the diet they were on before you got them. If it is a diet that you are comfortable with and there are no dangers to your birds, I would continue with that diet. If it is a diet that is nonvaried, add veggies and greens. It would be a good idea to question the prior owners about any special foods given to the pair during breeding season and when they were feeding their young. Most importantly, make the same foods available to the pair that they have had in the past when they are feeding chicks. Diet is another area you may want to speak to your vet about. Veterinarians sometimes see trends in diet-related problems.

Not all breeders of conures will agree whether to change the level of protein fed during breeding season. I know breeders who had major problems with feeding high-protein diets to their breeding conures. I also know breeders who have fed, and still feed, high-protein diets to conure breeder birds with no apparent effect. I can only guess why results vary. The levels of protein in the diets and brands may be different. There could be other factors involved as well.

The only aspect of diet that just about everyone agrees on is that an all-seed diet (one that does not contain any type of food other than seed) is not a good diet and should not be given to the birds. Other than that, the field is open when it comes to what we should and should not do. I prefer to feed a varied diet, which is kept as natural as possible, to my flock. A large garden is maintained for them, and the produce is frozen and dried when I cannot feed it fresh. Each bird is an individual and, within reason, is treated as one. Pairs prefer different foods to feed their young, and I do my best to provide them with a never-ending supply of those foods when they are feeding chicks.

By reproducing the environment your green-cheeked conures were used to as much as possible, with regard to caging, nest box, lighting and diet, you should be successful in having them reproduce for you. Best of luck.