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Golden Conure

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Is the Golden Conure right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Golden Parakeet; Queen of Bavaria Conure

Scientific name: Guaruba guarouba

The basics:
The Golden Conure is a beautiful endangered species, long desired as a pet because of its beauty, intelligence, and its gold and green plumage which hints at the colors of the Brazilian flag. Most captive birds should be in breeding programs, and owners should be prepared to comply with all federal regulations regarding the care and transfer of this species. They are expensive to purchase, and no expense should be spared in setting them up in a secure breeding aviary, which means that they are a species for the well-heeled expert.

This endemic Brazilian species has been endangered by the one-two punch of illegal collection for the pet trade and the illegal logging of the old growth hardwood trees where it likes to nest. The people involved in the illegal trade are actually bold enough to enter the national parks to cut down trees and steal baby birds. For example, in 2007, a researcher studying a Golden Conure nest traveled to the tree, only to find it cut down and the birds stolen – right in Brazil's Amazonia National Park.

Know your breeder, and do not tolerate unethical activity. If you become aware of smuggled or stolen Golden Conures – or stolen or smuggled tropical hardwoods, for that matter – report it.

Appearance:
This species is easily distinguished from all other conures because of the combination of an all-over golden bird with deep green on the lower part of the wings.

Weight:
270 grams (9.5 oz.)

Average size:
34 centimeters (13.4 in.)

Lifespan:
30 - 40 years

Behavior / temperament:
Many breeders now focus on allowing Golden Conures to raise their own babies, so that the birds will know they are birds and be able to become parents themselves in their turn. However, this species is rated as highly intelligent, social, and friendly, and a bird exposed to humans early enough can be extremely charming. They are very noisy, and you will probably not be able to consider breeding or keeping Golden Conures if you have close neighbors.

These active, curious birds cannot be neglected, or they may become feather pluckers. One bird started plucking when his owner was forced to take several long trips on business – a problem cured by placing this action-oriented bird in the middle of a busy shop. Like other noisy, vocal parrots, it is possible for the Golden Conure to learn to talk, and the bird in the busy shop had learned to greet visitors with a very clear, “Hello.”

Housing:
Most Golden Conures should be set up in secure walk-in or suspended aviaries as part of a breeding program. Smugglers are aware of the endangered species status of this bird, and you should invest in a high quality home security system, with the ability to monitor and record what's happening around the aviary. You also need to provide top-quality protection from pests ranging from disease-carrying mosquitoes to raccoons or other predators that might break in to destroy a nest. It is worth noting that these birds are reported to be colony nesters in the wild, and that you may have more success if you can breed several pairs within hearing of each other – a very expensive proposition. You should invest the time in speaking with other breeders and getting first-hand information about what is involved, before you jump into what will be a very large and costly project.

Until the population stabilizes, very few of us will have the pleasure of owning a single pet Golden Conure. However, if you do end up with an “odd” bird, then you may house your pet in a cage suitable for a larger conure or smaller Amazon. You should also have a playgym, complete with a range of foraging and chew items that can be destroyed, as well as more permanent perches and toys.

Diet:
The Golden Conure demands a varied, nutrient-rich diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. There are several diets that work for this species. A good pellet-based diet, with lots of chopped vegetables and fruits on the side, can be a good daily diet, but take care that this intelligent bird does not get bored with the pellets. Soak-and-cook, either from a vet or a commercial supplier, can be the answer, although it's more work than pellets. Many people like to create their own grain and legume based diet, which generally includes a mix of well-cooked beans and grains, including brown rice. As a practical matter, you will probably want to prepare the cooked diet in large batches, freezing what you're not using in a couple of days, and then defrosting it as you need it. They do enjoy seed, but it should be fresh enough to sprout, and take care to serve it in soaked or sprouted green form as frequently as possible.

A single pet Golden Conure is likely to want to help you eat your dinner, but never allow the bird to sample avocado or chocolate, as these items are toxic to all parrots.

Written by Elaine Radford

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