Patagonian Conure

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Is the Patagonian Conure right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Burrowing Parrot; Burrowing Parakeet; Lesser Patagonian Conure; Greater Patagonian Conure (C. p. bloxami)

Scientific name: Cyanoliseus patagonus

The basics:
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.)

Average size:
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

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