Burrowing Parrots: The Patagonian Conure Species Guide To Characteristics, Proper Care & Attention
Also known as the burrowing parrot, the Patagonian conure is a very popular breed of pet parrot. They feature most traits that potential parrot owners look for, being both intelligent and affectionate pets.
They have a charming tropical look which, combined with their adorable personalities, brightens up any home. Here is everything you need to know about the Patagonian parrot.
Patagonian Conure Overview
Scientifically named the Cyanoliseus patagonus, and commonly known as the burrowing parrot, these birds are native to South America and can still be found across Argentina and in small populations in Chile. They thrive in arid conditions and deserts, as well as savannahs and open grasslands. Although they populate many parts of Argentina and can live in diverse conditions, their numbers did suffer a lot due to illegal trade.
The Patagonian conure is a pretty unique species of parrot but their closest relatives are macaws and other conures like the sun conure. The species is threatened and declining in the wild because they have been historically hunted and killed as agricultural pests or exported to Europe as pets. Luckily, most pets are now bred in captivity and not taken away from their natural habitat so their numbers are starting to recover.
Characteristics Of A Patagonian Conure
The dark forest green plumage of the Patagonian conure perfectly reflects the beautiful Argentina landscape they come from. Younger birds will have slightly different colours around the beak and eyes to older birds with whitish beaks which turn black with age. On their backs, they also have darker brown and black colorings.
Patagonian parrots are the largest type of conure and fully grown can measure around 18 inches and weigh 240-310 grams.
In the wild, the Patagonian conure would live in a large flock. This makes them very sociable by nature and they much prefer to live with several other birds. They are also very friendly and sociable with people and can be quite talkative.
The Patagonian parrot likes to mimic sounds and speech but isn’t too loud compared to other conures which makes them an ideal pet parrot. You can easily teach them how to say a few words and names or whistle along to your favorite songs.
If you don’t give them plenty of one-on-one attention and affection, they will start to become noisier, so make sure you spend some time with them if you don’t want to put up with ear wrenching squawks. They also live for around 30 years so they are a big commitment for any bird owner.
Raising A Patagonian Conure As A Pet
If you like the sound of this unique parrot species, you might be thinking about adopting one as a pet. Here’s everything you need to know about raising a Patagonian parrot.
The burrowing parrot is known for being affectionate but they are much easier to manage if hand raised. If you buy one as a chick and hand feed it, you will form a much closer bond. They also prefer to live with other birds and will need a lot of time and affection from you if you do choose to keep one alone.
Being playful and energetic, the Patagonian conure loves to learn tricks and play with new toys so you will need to find plenty of things to keep them entertained. As intelligent parrots, they will particularly enjoy puzzle games.
They aren’t known to be nippy; making them a great choice for families with children. Just make sure everyone in your family spends time with your new burrowing parrot so it doesn’t form attachments to one person more than others. Although not particularly nippy, they do like to chew things so make sure you don’t leave anything dangerous lying around when they are out of their cage.
The Patagonian parrot is intelligent and a fast learner so you won’t have much trouble training them. They are also good fun and like to entertain people with funny phrases and songs. If you are not an experienced bird owner, training can be challenging and you might benefit from having a professional trainer. With careful training, they can learn to say a few words and phrases as well as mimic tunes and songs.
Depending on your bird’s individual personality, a lot of Patagonian conures can grow to be quieter than other conures but they're still not best suited to small apartments and houses with close neighbors as some can be noisy. Remember that they will become noisier if you don’t give them the attention they need.
Patagonian parrots are very popular pet bird species so they are suited to most experience levels. If you are an experienced bird owner you will probably be able to train them more effectively.
On the other hand, if you are a first-time owner, you can always hire a professional trainer to help you with training. To form a close bond with you bird, it is better to care for them from a young age and regularly handle them.
Proper Care For Patagonian Conures
If you do decide to adopt a Patagonian parrot, there are several things you need to know to ensure that you are caring for your new pet properly.
Acquiring the right sized cage is the first step in setting up your burrowing parrot’s new home. Most conures need a cage that is at least 24 inches in depth x 24 inches in depth x 24 inches in height. As Patagonian conures are larger than other conures, you should think about getting a bigger cage, or even an outdoor aviary, but this is the minimum size they require. The bar spacing should also be 5/8 inches to ¾ inches.
Like most large birds they will need plenty of time out of their cage each day to avoid boredom. Don’t be surprised if they start to make a lot of noise when left alone in their cage for too long. This is another reason why they are happier in an aviary where they have more room to fly.
A conure bird seed mix is a good base for your Patagonian parrot’s diet but this should also be supplemented with various fruits and vegetables as well as mealworms. Make sure you check that all the fruits and vegetables you give your parrot are bird safe first. You can also add the occasional protein like chicken and salmon and dairy like hard cheese as a treat.
As flock animals, these birds generally need to be in an aviary with a selection of other Patagonian conures in order to breed. They have a monogamous mating system and will choose one other bird in their flock to mate with. An aviary of 4.5m long and 1.5m wide will provide enough room for two pairs of parrots to mate.
You will also need to supply nest boxes. Nesting season is in late spring and early summer and you can breed your Patagonian conures when they are over three years old.
Just like any other parrot, Patagonian parrots need plenty of time outside of their cage to avoid boredom and irritation. They also need a range of toys to keep them occupied while they are in their cage and will enjoy more challenging games and chew toys. If you have some outdoor space for an aviary, these birds would benefit from the extra room to fly around.
Depending on the species and how rare they are, conures can differ in price from 175-3000 USD. As Patagonian conures are relatively rare in the wild, you can expect to pay between 500 and 1000 USD depending on the breeder.
In terms of health issues, the Patagonian conure is a pretty sturdy pet as they come from harsher climates and have adapted to deal with them. This also means that they are hardy enough to live outside all year round.
However, if they feel stressed or overcrowded, they can start feather-picking. They can also carry the herpes virus without showing signs and pass it on to other birds so make sure you don’t house them with other bird species just in case.
Most parrots deal with their own self care when it comes to grooming but you can always give them a bath and trim their nails when they need a little pampering.
There are several types of conures which are comparable to the Patagonian conure but this subspecies is the largest. Most conures are noisy but bird owners have found that Patagonian conures can be quieter if given plenty of attention and hand raised. If you are interested in other species of conure here are a few examples:
- Sun conure
- Jenday conure
- Nanday conure
Have you heard a Patagonian Conure barking like a dog? Let's watch that for a minute before we end. It's amusing!
If you are looking for a larger parrot which is intelligent and lovable, the Patagonian conure is a great choice. These birds make wonderful pets but require plenty of time and affection. They are full of energy and will really tear the house down if they don’t get the attention they deserve.
In spite of this, they are pretty hardy pets that can look after themselves and even survive in outdoor aviaries; if you are looking for an outdoor bird.