Jamaican Conure or Olive-throated Conure

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The Jamaican Conures – also known as Olive-throated Parakeets or Dwarf Conures (Aratinga nana) – are found from Jamaica to the southern tip of Central America. The subspecies A. nana nana is native to Jamaica in the West Indies, but they can also be found in St. Thomas, The Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Mexico as well as Central America.

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    They frequent forests along watercourses and semi-arid/humid forests divided by water openings. They are widespread in wooded hills, mountain slopes at lower elevations, cultivations and gardens. Jamaican Conures can live in elevations as high as 700 meters (2296 ft). They are easily distinguished from other Jamaican parrots by their smaller size, slender body, pointed tail and rapid flight.

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      Outside the breeding season, these conures tend to occur in medium-sized blocks. Pairs separate from flocks when they are preparing for, and raising, a family.

      The Aztec Conure Aratinga n. astec) and Eastern Aztec Conures (Aratinga n. vicinalis) are common to very common in their natural habitat. The nominate species, the Jamaican or Orange-throated Conure (Aratinga n. nana), is endangered in its natural habitat due to deforestation. This species is listed in Appendix II of CITES. One reason given for the downward trend seen in their population since 1997 is deforestation. (Meijer, 1997)


      Jamaican ConureThree subspecies normally recognized:

      • Jamaican Conure, Dwarf Conures (Aratinga nana nana)
        • Distribution: Jamaica
        • Identification: Both adults are green with a bright green rump. The cheeks and ear coverts (feathers covering the ears) are bright green and the throat and breast are olive/brown. The bill is horn colored with pale grey at base. They have white bare eye rings. The eyes are orange.

      • Aztec or Jamaican Conure or Olive-throated Conures (Aratinga nana astec)
        • Distribution: Central America, along Caribbean slope from Veracruz, Mexico, along Caribbean slopes, Costa Rica, south to Almirante Bay, extreme western Panama; and Honduras.Caribbean slope from SE Mexico to W Panama.
        • Identification: Smaller than the nominate species described above, but have longer wings. They are paler in color with more yellow/green coloration. The throat and abdomen are paler brown and they have a smaller bill.

      • Eastern Aztec Conures: (Aratinga nana vicinalis)
        • Distribution: Northeast Veracruz north to central Tamaulipas, northeast Mexico
        • Identification: Look like the Aztec Conure described above, but with a generally brighter green plumage. There is less brown on the underparts.



      They are usually between 9.06 to 12.01 in or 23 to 30.50 cm long, including the tail. The tail alone is about 4.8 – 5.2 inches or 123 – 132 mm long. Their wingspan is 23.62 inches or 60 cm. They weigh between 2.5 – 3.06 oz or 73 – 87g.


      The Jamaican Conure is primarily green and is well camouflaged in the tropical rainforests where they are found. This suggest that this color serves as an anti-predation adaptation. Their green coloration allows them to move through the rainforest without being noticed.

      These conures are green on their head, back and tail. The lower breast and abdomen, the upper breast and the throat are olive-brown; hence the name olive-throated parakeets.

      The outer webs of the flight feathers are dark blue and the under wing-coverts are dull green. The underside of the flight feathers are grey.

      The underside of the tail is olive-yellow.

      Head and Feet:

      Adult Jamaican Conures have orange irises while immature birds tend to have darker / brown irises. The bare skin around the eye is a cream color.

      Olive-throated or Jamaican Conures have large horn-colored bills that are curved downward, with visible markings of grey on the base of upper beak and along the sides of lower beak. Some birds have a few orange feathers around the nostrils.

      The feet are grey.

      Gender Identification:

      Males and females look alike.DNA or Surgical Sexing is recommended for breeding birds.

      Immature Birds:

      Young birds look like adults but have dark irises (brown eyes).


      Ecological and Economic Importance:

      Economic Importance:

      These conures are popular pets and are considered the most important group in the wildlife trade economically. Aratinga nana are also important for tourism as they attract wildlife enthusiasts that flock to the Caribbean and Tropical areas to see them in their natural habitat.

      On the downsize, these conures are amongst the most persistant immature-seed predators in the rainforest and make it hard for farmers to harvest crops thoroughly and because of that, they are considered pest

      Ecological Importance

      Conures impact their ecosystem as they provide an important mechanism for seed dispersal. Birds frequently deposit seeds in protected locations provided by trees and shrubs away from areas of intensive animal foraging at the base of fruiting plants. Such protected locations not only increase the probability of seed survival, they generally offer more suitable conditions for seed germination and seedling establishment. (source: www.nps.gov)

      On the other hand, they also are predators to plants and fruit trees by interrupting and disrupting a tree’s dispersal strategy and hindering germination.

      Parrots, though, make it possible for other organisms in their ecological community to eat. Parrots often drop some of the fruits and seeds that they have been collecting. This allows other animals (ground foragers) to eat.


      Calls / Vocalization:

      Jamaican or Olive-throated conures are described as noisy and screechy in flight. Their calls consist of high-pitched notes; sustained harsh twittering sounds with upward inflection, and piercing chirps. Males use the contact call for mating. Each bird produced its own unique signature contact call.


      Diet / Feeding:

      These conures feed on a variety of plant foods, leaves, seeds, grains, nuts and fruit. They eat the buds and fruits of many trees, for example red birch, Erythrina and Spathodea. They may also feed on cultivated crops.

      Parrot bills have evolved the ability to crush the largest seeds. Their strong bill and muscular tongue allows them to feed on fruits and break seeds that would otherwise be difficult for other animals to crack.

      Many plants have built up chemical and mechanical defenses to ward off herbivores. However, parrots have become practically immune to the plant’s defenses. They digest clay from riverbanks to detoxify the toxic chemicals in the seed/fruit. Alternatively, they eat small amounts of toxic seeds and combine them with a larger amount of harmless seeds, therefore substantially decreasing the potential harm.


      Jamaican or Olive-throated Conures as Pets


      Reproduction / Breeding the Jamaican Conures


      Taxonomy / Other Names:

      Other common names:

      • Olive-throated Conure; Jamaican Parakeet/Conure (nana) – German: Jamaikasittich
      • Aztec Parakeet/Conure (astec) – French: Conure aztèque … German: Aztekensittich … Spanish: Aratinga Pechisucia

      Genus: Scientific: Aratinga … English: Conures … Dutch: Wigstaartparkieten … German: Keilschwanzsittiche … French: Aratinga

      Species: Scientific: Aratinga nana nana … English: Jamaican Conure, Dwarf Conure … Dutch: Jamaicaanse Aratinga … German: Jamaikasittich … French: Perruche Jamaica … CITES II – Endangered

      Races including nominate:

      • A.n. nana (Vigors, 1830) – Jamaica.
      • A.n. astec (Souancé, 1857) – Caribbean slope from SE Mexico to W Panama
      • A.n. vicinalis (Bangs and Penard, 1919) – NE Mexico



      Aztec Conures


      Eastern Aztec Conures (Aratinga n. vicinalis)


      They looke like the Aztec Conure (astec) but have a more greenish plumage and the breast and abdomen are also much greener. They have proportionately longer wings than the Jamaican or Orange-throated Conure (nana) – but their wings are about the same length as those of the Aztec Conure (astec).

      They average 9.5 inches or 24 cm in length — of which 4.2 to 4.7 inches or 107 – 119 mm — is the tail.

      Distribution / Habitat / Breeding:

      This conure is endemic to northeast Veracruz, north to central Tamaulipas, northeast Mexico. They favor humid tropical lowland areas with woodland, open areas, scrubland and along forest edges up to 2,400 ft or 800 m elevation. They also visit cultivated areas and plantations.

      Outside the breeding season, they are usually seen in small flocks of 4 to 30 birds. Occasionally large flocks of up to 800 birds occur.

      The breeding season commences in April and goes through to the end of May. They nests in tree cavities or arboreal (above-ground) termite mounds. They line their nests with little pieces of wood. The average clutch consists of 4 to 5 eggs, each egg measuring 1.04 x 0.87 ins or 26.3 x 22.0 cm.

      These conures are not generally shy. They are very active and are often seen climbing around in branches – giving preference to the inner part of tree top. Their flight is rapid, with much twisting and turning.

      Their calls are loud, shrill and high-pitched; deafening when in flock.

      Diet / Feeding:

      Natural diet: Their natural diet consists of plant matter, seeds, fruits, berries, and nuts. They also forage in plantations, grain and cornfields and are, therefore, considered crop pests.

      Captive Diet: They should be provided a varied died that includes a high quality dry food mix (safflower, paddy rice, wheat, oats, canary seed and various millets; some sunflower, etc.). They also need greenfood, fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly carrots, apples, half-ripe maize, rose hips and rowan berries. Dried shrimp are a good source of protein. Mineral supplements should be available at all time. During the breeding season, bread, biscuit, and other nutritious soft foods should be offered for rearing.


      This conure is initially shy and generally quiet and cautious. They will quickly grow confiding with their caretaker. Outside the breeding season, they usually get along well with other species of the same size. They are not known for excessive chewing. Once acclimatized, they are hardy.

      The recommended size of their flight is 9 x 3 x 6 ft (3 x 1 x 2 m) with adjoining shelter to protect from frost in winter. They should have a roosting box throughout the entire year. A suitable nest box would be 8 x 12 x 10 inches (20 x 30 x 25 cm) with an entrance hole of 3 inches or 7 cm in diameter.

      Captive breeding has seldom been achieved and it often takes years before they start breeding. Even though breeding is possible in communal aviary, it is not recommended as they are likely to become aggressive towards the other pairs or disruptive in their breeding efforts.

      Their natural breeding season commences in April and goes on until the end of May. They usually produce 3 to 5 eggs in a clutch, which are incubated for about 23 days. The young fledge when they are about 50 days old.


      Genus: Scientific: Aratinga … English: Conures … Dutch: Wigstaartparkieten … German: Keilschwanzsittiche … French: Aratinga

      Species: Scientific: Aratinga nana vicinalis aka Aratinga astec vicinalis … English: Eastern Aztec Conure … Dutch: Oostelijke Aztekenaratinga … German: östlicher Aztekensittich … French: Perruche Jamaica Bangs et Penard … CITES II – Endangered


      Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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