Red-masked Conures (Aratinga erythrogenys) are native to South-western Ecuador, North-western Peru. While this conure is commonly referred to as the Red-masked Parakeet or Conure in its natural habitat, it is better known as Cherry-headed Conure in captivity.
Feral populations of escaped pet or breeder birds exist in the United States, specifically Florida and California, One of the most well-known feral populations in San Francisco have been documented in the film The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Judy Irving. Breeding populations have also been observed in San Diego County, Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley and Sunnyvale. They have also been introduced into Spain. The birds have been observed feeding on various fruits and blooms and are frequently nesting in palm trees.
The Cherry-heade Conure is endangered in its natural habitat and in 1994 has has been reclassified from a species of least concern to a species near threatened.
Red-masked Conures are medium-sized parrots that average 33 cm (13 in) in length, half of which is the tail.
They have a beautiful green plumage that is paler and more yellowish on the underside. The whole head is red, except for for the back half of the cheeks. There is also red on the shoulders, underside of the wings and the thighs. The eye is yellow surrounded by a white eye ring. The beak is horn colored and the legs are grey.
Young Red-masked Conures have grey eyes and lack the red on the head. The first red feathers appear at around the age of four months.
Its call is two-syllabled, harsh and loud.
These charming conures are popular pets and are loved for their clowny personality. They will take every opportunity to show off the tricks that they have learned. They are intelligent and affectionate, easy to tame and are good talkers.
On the down-side, they can be very noisy and people who are sensitive to noise will find it irritating. They also like to chew and need to be provided toys and natural branches to chew and "customize" to their liking.
They do enjoy a variety of toys and a larger cage to accommodate all those toys is recommended.
Conures as Pets (Suitability, Personality, Pros and Cons, Care Requirements)
Breeding / Reproduction:
These conures are fairly easy to breed. Below are the dimensions of nesting boxes usually used for these conures. However, the dimensions can vary widely, as they are influenced by the owner's and the birds' preferences. The preferences of the breeding birds can also be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which the bird was hatched and reared.
The average clutch size is 3 to 4 eggs, which are incubated for 23 to 24 days. In their natural habitat, the nests are usually made in tree cavities. In captivity, a conure box is commonly used and readily accepted. Juvenile birds fledge after 50 days with green plumage.
If they, for whatever reason, don't like their nest box, one can try different sizes and boxes, placed in various areas within the flight. The spare boxes can be removed once the parents have identified their preferred nest box. All the others can be cleaned and used in other flights.
Inspection hole: Can be square or round. 100 mm (or approx 4 inches) in diameter.
A Removable top / lid can be a useful access point for inspections and for cleaning.
Location and height of log / nest-box: Install in a sheltered part of the aviary at about 5 feet (~1.5 - 1.8 meters) height, but not too close to the roof to cause heat problems in the hotter months.
Angle of log or nest box: 45 degrees through to vertical. Most boxes are vertical.
Nesting log / nest-box material: Add about 2 inches of decomposed suitable nest box litter to the bottom of the box to help stabilize the eggs and absorb the droppings from the chicks.
Options for suitable nesting material are decomposed non-toxic saw dust, corn cob, shredded newspaper, clean straw / dried grass or wood shavings (i.e., Aspen shavings or wood chips). The larger wood chips the better, so the parents don't feed it to the babies or the chicks accidentally ingest it.
Please note that some wood shavings - such as pine, cedar and redwood - give off aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols) and acids that are toxic and can cause dermatitis, allergic symptoms and irritation of the digestive tract. They should not be used in cages, aviaries, or nestboxes.
Incubation: Both hen and cock share in incubating the eggs.
Conures have a habit of removing all the nest box material and laying their eggs on the bare wooden base.
Nest inspection is generally not tolerated. If nest inspection is necessary, wait till both parents have left the nest. They can be aggressive and protective of the nest area when breeding.
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