Sun Conure

The sun parakeet or sun conure (Aratinga solstitialis) is a medium-sized, vibrantly colored parrot native to northeastern South America. The adult male and female are similar in appearance, with predominantly golden-yellow plumage and orange-flushed underparts and face. Sun conures are very social birds, typically living in flocks. They form monogamous pairs for reproduction, and nest in palm cavities in the tropics. Sun conures mainly feed on fruits, flowers, berries, blossoms, seeds, nuts, and insects. Conures are commonly bred and kept in aviculture and may live up to 30 years. This species is currently threatened by loss of habitat and trapping for plumage or the pet trade. Sun conures are now listed as endangered by the IUCN.

Details

On average, sun parakeets weigh around 110 g (4 oz) and are around 30 cm (12 in) long. They are sexually monomorphic. Adults have a rich yellow crown, nape, mantle, lesser wing-coverts, tips of the greater wing-coverts, chest, and underwing-coverts. The face and belly are orange with red around the ears. The base of the greater wing-coverts, tertials, and base of the primaries are green, while the secondaries, tips of the primaries, and most of the primary coverts are dark blue. The tail is olive-green with a blue tip. From below, all the flight feathers are dark greyish. The bill is black. The legs and the bare eye-ring are grey, but the latter often fades to white in captivity (so using amount of grey or white in the eye-ring for determining "purity" of an individual can be misleading). It is easily confused with the closely related jandaya parakeet and sulphur-breasted parakeet, but the former has entirely green wing-coverts, mantle, and vent, while the latter has green mottling to the mantle and less orange to the underparts. The sun parakeet is also superficially similar to the pale-billed golden parakeet. Juvenile sun parakeets display a predominantly green plumage and resemble similar-aged sulphur-breasted parakeets. The distinctive yellow, orange, and reddish colouration on the back, abdomen, and head is attained with maturity.

Feeding

In the wild, sun conures mainly feed on fruits, flowers, berries, blossoms, seeds, nuts, and insects. They feed on both ripe and half-ripe seeds of both fruits and berries. They also consume red cactus fruit, Malpighia berries, and legume pods. At times, they forage from agricultural crops and may be considered pests. They require more protein intake during breeding season, more carbohydrates when rearing young, and more calcium during egg production. In captivity, their diets may include grass seeds, beans, nuts, fruits (apples, papaya, bananas, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants, rowans, elderberries, hawthorn berries, rose hips, cucumbers and tomatoes), and vegetables (spinach, Chinese cabbage, cress, roquette, kale, broccoli, carrots, alfalfa, peas, endive, and sweet potatoes), dandelions, chickweed, soaked corn, germinated sunflower seeds and spray millet. They may also eat fruit tree buds (elderberry bushes, willows, hawthorn, and aspen), ant eggs, mealworms or their substitutes (hard-boiled eggs, bread, biscuits, hard cheese or low-fat cottage cheese). Cuttle bones, mineral blocks, and gravel or ground oyster shells may be given to aid in mechanical digestion.