Red-masked Conures aka Red-masked Parakeet

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.

Red-masked Conure
Cherry-head Conures

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.

Cherry-headed Conures eating

Cherry-headed conures


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.

Conure Info / Conures as PetsIndex of Conure SpeciesPhotos of the Different Conure Species for IdentificationConures as PetsCommon Health Problems of ConureConure Nutrition / Foods

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)

Cherry-headed Conures being fed by the Parrot Lady in San Francisco
Cherry-headed Conure sliding down a street light

Cherry-head Conure

Breeding / Reproduction:

Red-masked Conures present little challenges when breeding. One hurdle to face is to identify the nest box they like the best. Their preferences are generally guided by preferences experiences; for example, they will often favor the type and size of nest box that they themselves were raised in or successfully bred in in the past.

If this is an unknown – it is suggested to offer them a variety of nesting possibilities – nest boxes, logs of different shapes and sizes and place them in various areas of the flight.

Once their favorite nest box has been identified, all the others can be removed, sanitized and placed in other flights. Keep their identified favorite box for their exclusive use.

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.

Log / Nest-box:

  • Length / depth: 16 – 24 inches (400 – 600 mm)
  • Log internal diameter approx. 10 to 12 inches (250 – 300 mm)
  • Nest-box internal dimensions approx. 10 inches (or 250 mm) square
  • Diameter of entrance hole approx. 3 inches (70 – 80 mm)
  • 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.
  • Cherryhead Conure
    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.


Aratinga Conures

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

Species: Scientific: Aratinga erythrogenys aka Psittacara erythrogenys / Conurus rubrolarvatus … English: Red-masked Conure, Red-headed Conure … Dutch: Ecuador Aratinga, Roosmasker Aratinga, Roodkop Aratinga … German: Guayaquilsittich … French: Perruche à tête d’ecarlate

CITES II – Endangered

Photo of author

Team Beauty of Birds's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.
Team Beauty of Birds is separate from the “Parrot Parent University” parrot training course and its instructors.