Hidden like a quiet, unassuming jewel admist the loud, boisterous and gaudy group of parrots known as conures is one of the finest pets that anyone can own... the Blue-crowned conure.
Talk to conure breeders familiar with the traits of many members of the conure family and they will often point to the Blue-crowned as one of their favorites. The reason certainly isn't the Blue-crowned's appearance, for its mostly-green plummage can hardly compare to the blazing red, yellow and orange attire that many conures flaunt. Not that the Blue-crowned is drab, once you take a closer look. It actually sports three or four different greens within its array of feathers; the underparts of the tail feathers are a unique blend of rust and watermelon, and its graceful, azure head is a natural wonder. The Blue-crowned even has a bi-hued beak, with the lower mandible black and the upper a horn color. Still, in a beauty contest, it would hardly rank among the world's most beautiful parrots. Rather, it is the Blue-crowned's personality that finally wins over its share of converts.
The Blue-crowned is one of the sweetest and most laid-back of all the conure group. Of course, individuals often dramatically vary in temperament and disposition, and much depends on how they are socialized as babies and in their various human interactions. Yet in general, the Blue-crowned has proven itself to be well-suited for human companionship as a good-natured pet.
Though one of the larger conures, Aratinga acuticaudata is still a relatively small parrot. It is a native of the mid-southern region of South America, spanning northwestern Argentina, Paraguay, Uraguay and an area of southwestern Brazil. Wild Blue-crowneds live in large flocks, sometimes flocking with Mitred Conures which share some of the same range. Like all South American parrots, native Blue-crowneds are facing continued loss of habitat, but the nominate species does not appear to be seriously threatened at this time.
Blue-crowned conures were imported to the U.S. and other countries in large numbers during the 1970s and 80s, and though imports have dramatically slowed they are now well-established in aviculture. Indeed, domestic Blue-crowneds are a bargain, selling for around $200-250 wholesale and $350-450 retail.
Though they come equipped with needle-sharp beaks (that some keepers elect to have filed down by an experienced bird groomer), a Blue-crowned can usually be trusted to be quite gentle. These birds are generally not as rowdy and nippy as some other members of the conure clan can be. Compared with some of the smaller conure jitter-bugs, the Blue-crowned seems downright sedate. Yet, like all conures, when properly cared for it will be playful and affectionate with its human companion.
The Blue-crowned is sometimes referred to as the "best-talking" conure, but then again, the conure group hardly rates toward the top of the parrot class in human language skills. Blue-crowned owners may get a garbled word or two from their charge, but will be more fulfilled if they fine-tune their own perception to appreciate the bird's delightful range of natural sounds. During certain times of day the Blue-crowned can be a chatter-box, babbling away to itself in a language that only another Blue-crowned could possibly comprehend. Yes, the Blue-crowned does carry the vaunted "conure screech" in its repertory of vocalizations. However, this so-called "drawback" to conures is overblown. For one thing, no conure can hold a candle to many cockatoos and macaws (or barking dogs, for that matter) in the volume department, and most pet conures do not cut loose at volume 10 that often. The Blue-crowned is probably less prone to do so than most of its cousins.
A Blue-crowned conure could be the perfect choice for someone considering acquiring a parrot. For the would-be keeper who is dedicated and willing to put in the time and effort to develop a truly meaningful pet relationship, the Blue-crowned conure offers a combination of affordability and affability sometimes hard to come by with many parrots. Those who only want flash must look elsewhere, but the thoughtful pet-owner who decides on a Blue-crowned will not be disappointed.
About CISCO-BLUE, the Free-Flying Blue-Crowned Conure: Cisco turns four years old in July of 1998. He was hatched in Southern California and now resides at Island Aerie on Lay Inlet (part of Puget Sound) in Washington. He was very bonded to his brother in Southern California, and at first was not at all pleased about coming to live with his new family (stationmaster Rusty now wishes he had purchased the brother, too). But he's one happy camper now in his new digs. Cisco sleeps in a nestbox inside his cage, but is generally out and about the house all day long.
On most non-windy days (rain or shine, cold or hot), he and flockmate Tinga (sun conure) get a chance to fly outside. It is a wonder to watch as the conure boys sail from tree to tree, never straying too far from their "nest"... the house. They enjoy snipping new leaves and small twigs. In fact, if a viewer loses sight of them in the profusion of foliage, the birds can usually be located by tracing the bits of twig and leaf spiraling down from the treetop. They also enjoy surveying their domain from the highest branches, watching the herons, seagulls, ravens, crows, ducks, loons, cormorants, wild geese and such fly about... along with boats, canoes and kayaks passing by on the inlet below. A resident pair of eagles that live nearby sometimes fly past the house. The conure boys screech up a storm during these brief eagle visits, and puff up with pride after they have "frightened" the poor raptors off. (Eagles, of course, have no interest in scrawny, squawky parrots).
When he was young, Cisco had a very lenient wing-clip so that he could flutter about a bit and not seriously hurt himself if he took a fall. Before his wing feathers grew back in entirely, he would dive out of the second story window on occasion, and safely glide to the grass and bushes below, whereupon he would call to be rescued. He seemed to get a vicarious thrill out of these episodes. He would also intently watch Tinga flying about, and it seemed clear that he was thinking to himself, "I wish I could do that." Now he does.
However, it is apparent that flying is not Cisco's favorite activity. He will only stay out perhaps 20 minutes at most, then he flies back to the deck to engage in his very favorite activity: pestering Rusty. He loves to sit on Rusty's shoulder and play. He likes to go everywhere with Rusty, and will stay up as late as his favorite human... even long after the other birds in the flock have gone to bed.
Cisco's nemesis in life is Tinga, the sun conure, who used to like to pounce on Cisco every chance he got. That was when Cisco staunchly refused to fight back, even though he is larger and has a more imposing beak than the sun. In the past year or so, Cisco has begun standing up for himself... and, predictably, the bullying by Tinga (the Terrible) has greatly subsided. Nowadays they are more or less buddies.
Cisco has a wide variety of sounds he likes to make. He hoots and honks, chortles, snorts and whines, and would not be a conure if he didn't screech once in awhile. The only human word he says is "hello", which he pronounces quite clearly and almost every time the phone rings.
If Cisco were a human, he would probably be a mechanical engineer. He is very clever at figuring out how things work, including birdcage doors. People sometimes ask why there are so many paper clips twisted around Cisco's cage door. And they are informed that it's the only way to keep him in his cage. He also has found out that he can slide down the iron bannister on the spiral staircase. He hooks his toenails on either edge of the bannister, and down he goes. Since it would be easier to fly down, he obviously does this just for fun.
Since moving to Washington, Cisco has decided one of his favorite foods is blackberries, which grow in abundance on our property. He also loves papaya, peanuts, raisins, apple, red grapes, corn, black beans, green beans and pea pods... and anything that keeper Rusty happens to be drinking.
Cisco loves to ride in the car, regularly going on short trips to town. He is also a veteran of two marathon drives... a 2200-mile round trip to Texas once, and the 1200-mile move from California to Washington. During both of these excursions he was on best behaviour and seemed to enjoy watching the scenery pass by. Stationmaster Rusty gives credit to the Texas trip for serving as catalyst to a much closer bonding with Cisco. Whereas Cisco had been a bit standoffish before, during that trip he became a real cuddler... an attitude he has maintained ever since.
Blue-crowned owners and breeders... tell us about your birds. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org