Species group: Conures
Other common names: Burrowing Parrot; Burrowing Parakeet; Lesser Patagonian Conure; Greater Patagonian Conure (C. p. bloxami)
Scientific name: Cyanoliseus patagonus
The Patagonian Conure is often considered the largest of the conures. It's certainly one of the most unusual. Wild birds actually dig their own nest tunnels in the sides of sandstone cliffs, creating huge colonies of breeding pairs. A nest colony in Argentina described in 2006 held over 35,000 breeding pairs.
In captivity, pet Patagonian Conures are social and loving. They also seem to spend a good bit of time poking around on the floor of their cage. Whether they are true conures may be open for debate, but they can surely be ranked as honorary conures because they're capable of being very noisy. There are four subspecies, with great variation in size, although all of them would be considered large birds for the conure category
The Burrowing Parrot, as the wild bird is known, ranges widely in Argentina and parts of Chile for part of the year but, come the breeding season, the pairs must gather at suitable cliffs made of soft, diggable stone like sandstone, limestone, or earth. Here, they excavate nest tunnels and then, year after year, they return and enlarge the tunnels where they have successfully nested. Unfortunately, the species may have a difficult future, as the land in Patagonia becomes developed for agriculture, while the beach-side cliffs are developed for tourist activities such as para-sailing and parking lots for beach-goers. In Chile, the birds were once a traditional festival food. While they have been protected by law from being eaten since the 1960s, they are still quite rare in that country.
A hefty parakeet with an olive-green head and breast, as well as a yellow rump and underbelly.
256 - 390 grams (9 - 14 0z.)
45 centimeters (18 in.)
38 - 42 years
Behavior / temperament:
Although it breeds in large colonies, the Patagonian Conure is a monogamous parrot, and it is capable of a strong pair-bond. It should not be neglected or left alone. These highly social birds need to be included as part of the family. Set up playpens in various areas of the house where you spend a lot of time, so that your pet can be part of the action. And don't be surprised if they prefer to play on the floor of the playpen.
Like many birds with a reputation for being noisy, they do sometimes learn to talk, so it's worth taking some time and trouble to provide them with voice training lessons. They also need lots of toys and bird-safe branches to chew and to destroy, because they have a lot of chewing instinct that they need to work off.
A single Patagonian Conure requires a large powder-coated metal cage that is suitable for housing an African Grey or an Amazon. A metal grate is recommended for the bottom of the cage, to keep the bird from playing too much in its own droppings, since they often seem fascinated by the floor of their cages. You should also have a playpen where they can come out of the cage and exercise, and be sure to have plenty of toys that encourage them to dig in, explore, and to chew. They are colony breeders and really can't be recommended to the beginning breeder. If you are considering breeding Patagonian Conures, visit some experts and observe what has worked for them before you get started.
Although the Patagonian Conure is not an Aratinga, they seem to benefit from a diet similar to one acceptable for a large Aratinga. Be prepared to supply 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. Soak-and-cook, either from a vet or a commercial supplier, is fine too. 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.
Small, high carbohydrate seeds like millet can be included in the mix. Larger “treat” oil seeds like sunflower can be given by hand. A variety of nuts can also be given by hand or hidden around the bird's playpen to encourage the Patagonian Conure to forage. Crack any nuts that are too hard for your pet to crack by itself. No conure should be allowed to eat avocado or chocolate.
Important Note: Since the Patagonian Conure may be at risk for Conure Bleeding Syndrome, they do need vitamin K rich sources in the diet, such as turnip greens and other dark, leafy greens.
Written by Elaine Radford
affectionate, excellent companion birds, highly active parrots, Natural clowns, gorgeous birds
loudest, feather destructive behaviours, screechiest conures, apartments, digging habit, drab color
companionable freeflighted bird, cockatiel sized, social needs, antisocial tendencies
There's a heart of gold in there, if you can see past the attitude
From within the same rescue, I've worked with two of these birds in total, and fostered one of them. Boisterous, lively, and playful describes them on a good day, but both of these birds were infamous for being fussy, moody, and above all else, comically particular.
They were only social on their terms, and would loudly - or occasionally, even viciously - let you know if they didn't feel like playing right now, if they didn't like that shady looking new friend that's standing several feet behind you, or even something as little as not wanting that treat you were giving them. New volunteers with only a novice understanding of bird body language were bitten... and hard.
While the one I fostered, Zeke, had a traumatic past and only one leg, he had a beautiful soul, but it took patience and time to discover it. Employees and particularly brave volunteers spent time bringing him back out of his newly-formed hermit behavior. Once socialized enough to be handled once again (several months full of baby steps), it was after that point I decided to foster him. While he did eventually bond to me well enough to sit with me and even tolerate petting, I'd quickly come to discover that he had developed an extremely strong preference for men. He became attached to my brother, a male friend that seldom ever visited, and my Dad, all with ZERO effort on their part. Zip. Nada. Zilch! He started to deliberately snub me after that! Suddenly, I was chopped liver? Sheesh, again with how finicky these birds are.
If you're willing to dedicate the time and love this bird needs, I encourage you to try, because they can be extremely interactive and rewarding birds if given the chance to show it. Be prepared for a significant emotional investment, and not unlike their genetic big brothers the Macaws - be prepared to be adopting the feathered equivalent of a perpetual 3 year old child (yes, with some screaming and tantrums included)..
From sambrooke May 10 2015 10:21PM
These guys are a serious handful
Oh boy - I both love and hate these birds so much. As a professional bird trainer, I work with birds all day, and experience all different kinds of "attitudes" and I would say, without a doubt, our "Patis" have the most attitude of any of our birds. These guys are all about consistency. Any little thing that changes in their environment instantly throws them off. They'll only leave their enclosure if they come out in the same order that they always do. They'll only go in their crates if the crates are set up the same way they always are. They are easily distracted, and squabble all the time. From a training standpoint - they are great if you are advanced at it. They need a lot of helping when learning new behaviors, not because they're unintelligent (they're actually insanely smart) but because they will avoid doing anything they don't want to do, and do not seem to care for any reinforcer. These guys are LOUD - the loudest birds I've worked with, and they are not at all snuggly. They prefer to be with each other than they prefer to be with me. I would honestly not recommend this species as a pet - very loud, not particularly social, and in my opinion, not the most beautiful species. That being said though, they do always keep me on my toes, and make my work day an interesting experience, so if you're looking for a difficult bird to work with, I would say definitely go with these guys!.
From rane4102 Dec 28 2014 7:06PM
I am being open and honest when I tell you that I love animals ALL animals but when it comes to owning certain pets you need to seriously consider your life style before owning a bird.
Almost 20 years ago I feel in love with a Patagonian Conure, he was loving, friendly and best of all I never truly closed the cage door on him ever. He slept on top of his cage at night and only went in his cage when he was hungry and wanted to eat, He traveled on my shoulder when I drove to work, as I was very fortunate to own a business. He had a perch that he sat on next to my secretary who loved him as well.
In the evening a solitary duck in the apartment complex would waddle up to the door around 5 PM every day and Maxi would squawk so he could go out and eat seed with his dining buddy. Truly a site to see, but life changes and when I had to move on I of course took Maxi with me but he didn’t handle the change well. In order to further my business I had to go on the road which meant he had to spend more time at home alone. He began showing stress related traits. He began to squawk incessantly for no reason and pulled a great deal of feathers off of his body leaving himself cold and shaking. As much as I dreaded it I knew I had to find a home for him as I could not spend the amount of time needed for Maxi to live a healthy, happy life. I felt like I had let him down and spent years regretting the fact that I did not take more time to learn about birds that live to be 100+ years old. When I saw him in the pet store (my first mistake), I just thought he was a typical bird that lived an average number of years and that I would easily be able to take care of him. It wasn’t until I started going to expos that I truly learned about what I had done. You see I take full blame for having to find another home for Maxi. I believe animals completely trust us to take care of them and I could not. I was only fortunate enough after searching for six months to find a wonderful home for Maxi with other birds.
A vet technician at an animal hospital offered to take him after hearing that I could no longer provide the home that he needed..
From Vickier Aug 10 2013 8:43AM