Austral Conure


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The Austral Conure or Austral Parakeet (Enicognathus ferrugineus) is one of only two species in the Enicognatus genus.

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    These conures are found on the southern tip of South America and – along with the Slender-billed Conure (Enicognathus leptorhynchus) – they are the most southerly distributed of all parrots.

    The Austral Conure is not as well known as many other conures – in fact, its sub-species, the Chilean Conure, is better known and easier to find. The Austral Conure was only recently introduced into aviculture. In fact, the first recorded captive breeding occurred in the early 1970s at the East Berlin Zoo. Even though it is a rare find at this point in time, as more and more are being bred in captivity, this species should become more readily available in the future.


    Austral Conures Distribution / Range:

    The Austral Conures are endemic to Chile, southern Argentina, and the islands in the Strait of Magellan. They occur mostly in wooded country, but can also be found in shrubland and farmland.

    In their natural habitat, these conures nest in tree cavities – often deserted woodpeckers nests or in the top of dead palms. The Austral Conure female lays quite a large clutch of four to eight eggs which are incubated for 21 to 27 days. The Chilean Conure usually produces smaller clutches consisting of two to six eggs. The young leave the nest at six to eight weeks. 

    Austral Conures are social and peaceful conures that can usually be seen in flocks of 10 to 15 individuals, but large flocks of over one hundred (or more) occur. In the extreme south, they usually stay near sea level, but migrates up to 2000m at the northern end of its range. They move down into the foothills during bad weather; in fact weather conditions and availability of food are the main reasons for flock movements. 

    These conures spend much of the day in trees and shrubs foraging for food. At those times they are quite inconspicuous, landing at the top of the trees and scrambling down through the branches.  These acrobatic conures can be seen feeding hanging upside down from branches. They are usually well hidden amongst the foliage and difficult to see, but the raucous metallic screeches they make whilst in flight can be heard for some distance.


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      • Austral Conure or Austral Parakeet (Enicognathus ferrugineus ferrugineus)
        • Averages 13 3/4 ” (37 cm) in length and weighs around 4.9 ounces (139 g).
      • Chilean Conure (Enicognathus ferrugineus minor)
        • The Chilean Conure is better known and a more readily available conure than the nominate species – the Austral Conure.Range: The Chilean Conure is also from southwestern Argentina and Chili, but is generally found farther north.Physical Differences: The Chilean Conure is slightly smaller than the Austral, averaging 13 1/3″ (34 cm) in length. The plumage is somewhat darker and it also has a darker head band. The belly patch often times disappears in the darker birds.Breeding: The Chilean Conure also lays smaller clutches than the Austral Conure (2 to 6 eggs).



      This fairly large conure averages 33 – 37cm or 13 – 13.75 inches in length – so they are slightly larger than Quaker Parakeet). Australs weigh around 4.9 oz (139 g).

      The plumage of the Austral Conure is mostly a dull green, lightly barred due to the dusky tips.  The crown is tinged with blue and here the tips of their feathers are greyish black.  Their forehead, lores (the region between the eye and bill on the side of a bird’s head) and upper tail are reddish brown / a dull red and they have a brownish red patch in the center of their abdomen.  The northern part of the range displays less red.

      Their primaries (longest wing feathers) and primary coverts are green tinged with blue. The tail is a brownish red tipped with green. 

      They have a grey beak and the irides (= plural of iris) are reddish brown. 

      Immature birds are similar to adults, only the reddish brown markings on their forehead and abdomen are duller.


      Diet / Feeding:

      Natural Diet: Their natural diet consists of seeds, nuts, small fruit (i.e. berries), leaf buds, acorns and bulbous roots.  Even though this conure will feed on various seeds, including grass and bamboo seeds, their favored food appears to be seeds of the Araucaria Araucana (also known as the Monkey Puzzle Tree). Swarms of these conures can be found in Araucaria forests when the seeds are ripe. In farmland areas, these conures cause considerable damage to crops whilst feeding on the ripened grain. 

      Captive Diet: A variety of seeds, fruits and vegetables should be provided, in addition to a good quality dry food mix. The general feeding ratio is f 25% seed, 10% pelleted (good quality pellets without harmful chemicals), 65% fresh vegetables and fruits and wheat bread. During the breeding season, additional buckwheat, safflowers and sunflower seeds should be provided.

      Aviculture / Captive Birds:

      The Austral Conure makes an excellent choice for an aviary as they are not overly noisy and become quite confiding with their caretakers. They do have to be carefully acclimatized and shelter should be provided as they sensitive to drafts and drops in temperature.

      The average clutch consists of 4 to 8 eggs – although in one rare instance 10 fertile eggs were reported. The average incubation period is 26 days. The young wean at 12 to 14 weeks.

      Their expected life span is 30+ years if the conditions are optimal — meaning provided their life isn’t cut short by accidents or due to malnutrition, as many do. These conures reach maturity when they are about 2 years old.



      These active birds need a roomy cage or flight to be happy and healthy. If kept in a cage, it should be let out for extended periods every day. Pet birds like to spend most of their time on a play stand or parrot perch. As this conure is sensitive to drafts and drops in temperature, a night shelter is recommended and will be greatly appreciated. A good sleeping box size is 24″ x 19 1/2″ x 17 34″ (60x50x45 cm).

      Austral Conures make sweet and loveable companion birds with an easy-going disposition. Austral Conures are fun-loving, inquisitive and mischievous. They are moderately noisy and most are not very nippy.

      They tend to be more active in the evening, which makes them a good choice for people who spend their evenings at home and enjoy to interact with their pet at that time. These conures love to climb and play.


      Conures as Pets (Suitability, Personality, Pros and Cons, Care Requirements)


      Breeding / Reproduction:

      They are monomorphic and reach sexual maturity around two years of age. The cock usually sits on or near the nesting box. These conures are fairly easy to breed.


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        Genus: Scientific: Enicognathus … English: Slender-billed Conures … Dutch: Langsnavelparkieten … German: Smaragdsittiche … French: Perroquet emeraude

        Species: Scientific: Enicognathus ferrugineus ferrugineus … English: Austral Conures, Magellan Conures, Emerald Parakeet… Dutch: Magelhaenparkiet, Smaragd Parkiet … German: Smaragdsittich … French: Perruche émeraude … Sub-Species: minor … CITES II – Endangered

        Distribution: Southernmost Chile, Southern Argentina


        Chilian Conures:

        Genus: Scientific: Enicognathus … English: Slender-billed Conures … Dutch: Langsnavelparkieten … German: Smaragdsittiche … French: Perroquet emeraude

        Species: Scientific: Enicognathus ferrugineus minor … English: Chilian Conure … Dutch: Chileense Parkiet … German: Kleiner Smaragdsittich, Chilenischer Sittich … French: Perruche émeraude de Chili … CITES II – Endangered

        Distribution: Southern Chile, South-western Argentina

        Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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