As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I got a new parrot in December, 2015. He’s a four-year-old Rose-crowned Conure, a species that is somewhat uncommon in North America. His name is Patrick Perry, although my husband and I usually call him by his nickname “Dip.”
Rose-crowned Conures are in the genus Pyrrhura (Pyrrhura rhodocephala), and are thus closely related to Green-cheeked and Maroon-bellied Conures. Rose crowns differ in appearance from the most common Pyrrhuras found as pets as they don’t have any tan or grey feathers on the breast and they have white beaks. They are largely green with a red cap on the head, red cheeks, a red tail, and some red feathers on the chest and belly. Their flight feathers are blue (although Dip has a few white primary flight feathers) and they have white primary coverts, which can be seen on the bend of the wing when the bird is at rest (see picture below).
Juvenile Rose-crowned Conures frequently have less red on the head than adults. Some books on wild birds state that juveniles lack red on the head or have very little of it there (e.g. Forshaw 2010); however, many captive-bred juveniles have quite a bit of red on the head. Juveniles may also have some bluish feathers on the crown and blue (instead of white) primary coverts.
Because Rose-crowned Conures are uncommon in captivity in Canada, Dip is often mistaken for other species. He is most frequently thought to be a Cherry-headed Conure (Psittacara erythrogenys), as both species are red and green with white beaks. However, the Rose-crowned Conure is smaller and has some red on the chest that the cherry heads lack.
The Rose-crowned Conure (AKA Rose-crowned Parakeet) has a rather small range in the wild and is the only Pyrrhura species found in its range. They occur in forested montane areas of northwestern Venezuela (see map below) at elevations of 800 – 3400 m (although they are most common at 1500 – 2500 m). Because they appear to be common in their range, the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) lists them as a species of “Least Concern,” meaning that they do not appear to be endangered or at risk of becoming endangered. However, there is little data available on this species’ population status or behavior in the wild.
In the wild and outside of the breeding season, Rose-crowned Conures occur in flocks of approximately 10 to 30 birds, although many small flocks may congregate together at sleeping roosts during the evening. Most breeding parrots stay in pairs during the breeding season; however, one species of Pyrrhura (the El Oro Conure, Pyrrhua orcesi) has a cooperative breeding system, where a breeding pairs’ relatives (or occasionally unrelated birds) may help them with raising young. The ‘helper’ birds in El Oro Conures will feed the breeding pair’s chicks. However, there is little information available on the breeding behavior of Rose-crowned Conures in the wild so I cannot say if they breed as pairs or if pairs receive help from other birds.
Pyrrhuras are often said to be among the more quiet parrot types. Certainly, Dip is nowhere near as loud as my Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Blue and Gold Macaw, or Red-lored Amazon. He does make some noise though. He gives off a lot of typical parrot squawks, and he is a very talented whistler. He is also quite talented at mimicking the other parrots. For example, Chiku, my Green-cheeked Conure mix, often says his name and Dip can mimic that perfectly. If I hear “Chiku! Chiku!” sounds from the bird room, I generally cannot tell if it’s Dip or Chiku (or both) making them. Dip can also mimic some of the quieter sounds that Ripley (my Red-lored Amazon) makes.
Dip eats Tropican pellets supplemented with some fresh foods. He particularly enjoys corn, peas, berries, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. I got to pick a lot of wild blueberries this summer and he particularly enjoyed those.
Dip is a very active parrot who loves to climb and chew on wood and cardboard. He lacked a tail when I got him, and his flight feathers were quite short. However, his tail grew back and his flight feathers have molted out and grown back. He likes to fly and his favourite landing spot appears to be the top of my head.
*Do you have a Rose-crowned Conure? Tell me about him/her in the comments!
BirdLife International. 2012. Pyrrhura rhodocephala. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22685877A39028964.Downloaded on 02 October 2016.
Forshaw, J. M. 1977. Parrots of the World. T. F. H. Publications: Neptune, NJ.
Forshaw, J. M. 2010. Parrots of the World. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Juniper, T., and Parr, M. 1998. Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. Yale University Press: New Haven, CT.
Klauke, N., Segelbacher, G., and Schaefer, H. M. 2013. Reproductive success depends on the quality of helpers in the endangered, cooperative El Oro Parakeet (Pyrrhura orcesi). Molecular Ecology 22:2011-2027.
Low, R. 2013. Pyrrhura Parakeets (Conures): Aviculture, Natural History, Conservation. INSiGNIS Publications: Mansfield, Notts, UK.