Brown throated conures are one of the lesser known Aratinga species in captivity. There are 14 different subspecies which can be found from Panama in Central America through Colombia and Venezuela all the way into the interior of Brazil. Some are even native to Caribbean islands like Aruba and St. Thomas. This species is found in coastal regions, arid scrubland and tropical rainforests.
Due to similarities in coloring and appearance, many of the brown throats originally bred in captivity were not accurately identified as separate subspecies. As a result, a great deal of hybridization has occurred in captive breeding programs. It may not be possible to accurately identify the particular subspecies of any bird found in the pet trade, but the exact subspecies of a pet brown throated conure has no impact on its quality as an affectionate companion.
Brown throated conures are not as active as other species of small parrots, but they require a lot of space in their cage for toys. The minimum size cage for a brown throated conure is 18"L x 18"W x 24"H. The larger the cage, the more comfortable it will be for the bird. A good cage should have horizontal bars on at least two sides - conures are very acrobatic and love to climb. Horizontal bars help to make climbing easier. Bar spacing should be no more than 3¼4" apart to prevent injury to your bird.
Conures can be kept at room temperature. Be sure to place your bird and its cage off of the floor and away from hot places or drafty areas like open windows, air vents and doorways. Most tropical areas have a daytime temperature in the mid to high 70’s and aren’t colder than 65º at night. Because of this, parrots that are constantly kept at temperatures below 65º are often stressed (which wears down their immune system and causes them to catch a draft). Another important thing to remember is that birds are most vulnerable to drafts when they are wet. If the room the bird lives in is 65º, it should be moved to a warmer area to dry after a bath. Birds which habitually bathe in their water should be kept in a warmer room (70º or above) at all times.
Your conure’s cage should have at least two or three perches of various sizes, shapes and textures so that its feet stay healthy and strong. Make sure the perches are thick enough for the bird to stand comfortably on them without losing its balance. For brown throated conures this is usually between 1¼2" and 3¼4" in diameter. Some materials to consider are natural wood branches (like manzanita), concrete, pumice or bonded sand perches (for trimming nails), and rope perches.
Every bird, no matter the size, should have toys in their cage to prevent boredom. Brown throated conures are destructive birds that need a lot of toys they can chew and destroy to keep occupied. All species of parrots need these distractions because they are very intelligent and, in the wild, would be solving many problems each day just to find food, create nesting sites and avoid predators. Provide at least three toys of different materials in the cage at all times: wood (for chewing, an important part of beak health), plastic/acrylic (to make sure they have a toy in case they destroy the others) and some other material or combination of materials such as vegetable-tanned leather, sisal rope, woven palm leaves/wicker and/or corn cob.
If your bird is housed in a quiet room, you may want to get a cover for its cage to help it sleep at night. In most tropical regions the amount of daylight hours is constant throughout the year and your bird will require a consistent 10-12 hours of sleep at night to remain healthy. If your bird lives in a more active room, it may be kept awake by even low volume sounds and will not get the proper rest that it needs. In this case, you may want to get a smaller cage for your bird to sleep in and place it in a quieter room, such as a guest room or home office. Using a smaller sleep cage will give your bird a safe, quiet place to get a good night’s sleep.
The natural diet of brown throated conures consists of blossoms, fruit, berries, seeds and insects. At home, conures will thrive on a variety of foods. Pellet foods and seed mixes can be fed as a daily base diet. We are currently feeding our birds Kaytee Rainbow Exact and Kaytee Forti-Diet. It is better not to feed pellets or seeds exclusively because it often does not provide proper nutrition and is boring for the bird. Pellets should compromise 50 to 80% of the diet (once the bird has been successfully converted to them), with the rest being made up of seed, fresh fruits and vegetables, and the occasional treat.
It is important to include a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits in your bird’s diet. Vegetables are more nutritious than fruits and should be given in greater quantities. Healthy choices include dark leafy greens (romaine, kale, chicory, turnip, collard and mustard greens), carrots, broccoli and cooked sweet potatoes and squash. Just make sure that whatever cooked foods you offer are not salted or spiced in any way.
Healthy fruits include papaya, mango, cantaloupe and small amounts of apples, pears, grapes and berries when in season. Be careful not to feed fruit pits or seeds (with the exception of berries) because many of these can be poisonous. When feeding fresh foods, it is important to remove anything uneaten after a few hours so that the food does not spoil, and wash the dishes thoroughly before using them again. Other healthy treats include cooked whole grains and pasta, multigrain bread and cereals, cooked eggs (hardboiled or scrambled) and unspiced lean meats.
If feeding fruits the stool may become runny for a while. Many birds cannot tolerate the acid that is in citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, pineapples etc), so we recommend limiting the amount of these fruits that you feed your bird. Also, never feed your birds any of the following items, as they may cause digestive problems or serious illness if consumed (even in small quantities): alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, avocado, rhubarb, asparagus, onion, garlic, dairy products, raw meat or eggs or extremely salty and/or fatty foods.
When changing the food your bird is given (if trying to convert birds to pellets or a new brand of food), do so gradually. A sudden change may upset your bird’s digestive system, or the bird may refuse to eat the new food and become ill. We currently feed our birds a mixture of Kaytee pellets and seed along with many fresh fruits and vegetables.
Grooming & Hygiene
Birds like to bathe, but different birds prefer to bathe in different ways. Some like to bathe in a shallow dish
, some like to be sprayed with a fine mist and still others like to get in the shower with their owner. Since many parrots come from regions of the world that get a great deal of rainfall, it's important to give birds a chance to get wet every day as long as they are in good health.
Clipping your bird's flight feathers
is not necessary but usually helps in taming your bird. It also helps to prevent escape and injury. Birds like parrots cannot survive in the climate of most of the US and would not survive without a flock (a flock protects them from predators as there is safety in numbers). For this reason, please consider carefully before allowing a parrot to remain flighted. Consult your avian vet to have the wings clipped by a qualified professional. Nails should also be trimmed by a qualified person if they get too long, unhealthy, or hinder the bird's movements.
Wipe down the cage, perches and toys daily with warm soapy water and change the paper in the tray. Use a non-toxic cleaner (such as mild dish liquid) and make sure that the soap is completely rinsed off when you are finished cleaning.
Disinfect the cage and perches with bleach water regularly (about once a week or so) while keeping the bird in a separate room. Bleach fumes can kill your new pet. Allowing the cage to air dry in sunlight is a natural way to disinfect. Make sure the smell from the bleach is completely gone before you place your bird inside the cage.
Rotate toys when your bird becomes disinterested in them (at least once a week, preferably more often - brown throats love to chew and are often very destructive with their toys). Also, never place an unfamiliar toy in the cage without first introducing it to the bird in a neutral location. Some birds are more frightened of certain objects or colors - keep their stress level low by introducing something new very carefully. Mirrors can be confusing for birds and are best introduced after the bird has bonded with their owner (or omitted from the cage entirely). Otherwise, they tend to bond with the bird in the mirror instead of their new owner.
Behavior and Interaction
Brown throated conures are very social birds who form large colonies in the wild. For this reason, hand raised birds require several hours out of their cage each day to stay happy and well-socialized. This time can be split between one-on-one interaction with their owner and exercising on a play gym. A playstand where the parrot can play with a different set of toys than it has in the cage is an ideal place for a bird to stay occupied when its owner cannot have it on his or her shoulder (but still wants to keep it out of the cage). It is also important that a young brown throat be handled as many people in its new household as possible. These birds are very affectionate, but they do tend to bond more strongly with one person as they get older. If they are handled by many different people from a young age they will be easier for people who are not ‘their favorite’ to handle.
If you would like your bird to bond with you, it is best to keep one bird per cage. Conures that are housed together may bond and form a mated pair, or they may possibly fight and injure one another if they are incompatible. If you intend to a keep a mated pair of brown throated conures, keep in mind that they are likely to become aggressive toward you during the breeding season. Also, brown throated conures DO NOT mix well with other species of birds, so whether you have a single bird as a pet or a breeding colony, it must be kept single species only. They are very aggressive towards other kinds of birds, even other species of conures.
Aratinga conures are very vocal birds, though brown throats are less noisy than their larger cousins (such as suns and jendays). They can easily develop screaming habits if not cared for properly. You can prevent this problem by providing daily companionship outside the cage as well as plenty of toys inside an appropriately sized cage. Anyone living in an apartment should consult their neighbors before bringing home one of these beautiful birds.
When taking your new bird home please remember that the surroundings in your home will be new to it. It may take some time for the bird to feel settled in the new environment. Speak softly and move very slowly whenever you are near the bird’s cage. Do not try to handle the bird for the first few days, unless it is eating and drinking very well and seems to want to come out on its own. But at the same time, do not shelter your bird
from your normal routine or bring it home during a vacation from work. If it is going to adapt to your routine, the bird needs to be exposed to it immediately.
Birds can be scared to death. Frightening a bird can cause the bird enough stress to harm and possibly kill it. Move slowly and talk quietly to your bird until it is comfortable with you and its new home.
With a well-balanced diet you should not need to give your bird vitamin or mineral supplements. If your veterinarian advises you to use supplements, make sure you clean and wash the water dish daily to remove any residue from the supplements.
We recommend taking your bird to the vet for regular checkups and purchasing a book about your new pet.
Always wash your hands before and after handling each animal.
If you notice signs of illness it is very important to get your bird to the vet promptly as most birds will hide illness until it is in an advanced stage. We recommend taking your bird to the vet BEFORE the bird ever becomes ill. Visiting your vet before the bird is ill will allow the vet to see the bird when it is healthy and help the vet create a routine preventive health care program for your new pet.
Signs of a Healthy Animal:
• Active, alert, and sociable
• Eats and drinks throughout the day
• Dry nostrils and bright, dry eyes
• Beak, legs, and feet appear normal
• Clean, dry vent
• Smooth, well-groomed feathers
• Beak swelling or accumulations
• Fluffed, plucked, or soiled feathers especially around the vent
• Constant sitting on floor of cage
• Wheezing or coughing
• Runny or discolored stools
• Favoring one foot when not asleep it is normal for birds to sleep on one foot
• Eye or nasal discharge
• Red or swollen eyes
• Loss of appetite