There are few sights as beautiful in the animal kingdom as colorful parrots in flight, and perhaps the most beautiful and vibrant of all the parrot species are those that reside in South America. These gentle giants often display a rainbow of colors in their plumage, ranging from azure blues, bright reds, greens, and yellows. And while multi-colored beauties such as the Scarlet Macaw of the Amazon rainforest are certainly a stunning sight, solid colored parrot species can just as easily take your breath away – like the eye-catching yellow Neotropical parrot, the Golden Conure.
The Golden Conure – also known as the Golden parakeet – is a rare and beautiful bird with golden yellow feathers covering their entire body with the exception of the tips of their flight feathers, which are dark green, creating a stunning color contrast. Despite their hard to miss colors, the Golden conure is notoriously hard to spot in the wild, so little is known of life in its natural habitat in the Amazon basin of northern Brazil.
Because of the lack of sightings of this beautiful parrot – and the fact it remains an increasingly endangered species due to illegal trapping and habitat destruction – the Golden conure is a fiercely protected species and one that is understandably hard to come by as a pet. We still have so much to learn about these stunning, intelligent birds. For now though, let’s delve into some cool facts about the Golden conure from their fun personality to their breeding and typical diet.
They Were First Discovered in 1638
The Golden conure was first discovered by the German naturalist Georg Marcgraf. Marcgraf came across this beautiful bird during his expedition to Dutch Brazil (the northern portion of the Portuguese colony of Brazil) in 1638. Marcgraf knew the Golden conure as a caged bird and was immediately struck by its glorious golden-yellow plumage. He named it ‘guarabu’ essentially meaning ‘small yellow bird” in the native language of the historical Tupi people of Brazil.
They Sometimes Eat and Drink Upside Down
Golden conures have a quirky habit of hanging upside down during mealtimes or when they feel a little playful. While to us this might seem counterproductive to their digestion, conures like to hang upside down if they are feeling happy or confident, so it’s perfectly normal behavior! Your conure may also hang upside down due to their instinct to forage for seeds and insects on the underside of tree branches.
They Alternate Their Sleeping Spots
Golden conures rarely stick to the same location when it comes to roosting or nesting. For their survival in the wild, they will often alternate between different tree hollows to rest in so they are never in the same place for a consecutive period. This is why cage design is important when it comes to keeping a pet Golden conure – plenty of space and a second ‘roosting’ perch up high in their cage is essential.
Brazilians Believe the Golden Conure Should be the National Bird
As you admire the beautiful tropical colors of the Golden conure, what else do you notice about these colors? The combination of golden yellow plumage mixed in with the dark green colored tips of its flight feathers could also be representative of the Brazilian flag! – or so Brazilian locals believe – which is why they’re eager to adopt the Golden conure as the country’s national bird.
They Can be Left Alone for Long Periods
Like most parrots, Golden conures love the attention and affection of their owners, but they don’t rely on constant socialization presence to be content. Conures can still thrive if their owner is out of the house for work for around 6 to 8 hours, as long as they have a large cage, access to food, a window view, and perhaps a radio left on to provide some background chatter and music.
They Love to Have Room-mates!
Golden conures are very sociable birds and in the wild, they are known to prefer roosting with up to 9 other conures or parakeets in a single tree hole. Sounds cramped, but they love to be around their own kind. When moving between each of their nesting or roosting holes, they even stay in large numbers in flight too – moving in flocks of up to 30 at a time.
They Have Various Predators in the Wild
One of the key reasons these rarely-seen but beautiful birds need to alternate their roosting and nesting spots so often is to evade the many predators they come across in their natural habitat.
Golden conures living in isolated trees in forest clearings are often under threat from toucans preying on their eggs and young, and in the dense forest areas, they are preyed upon by snakes and monkeys.
Climbing is Their Favorite Hobby!
If you live with a pet Golden conure long enough, you’ll soon realize that they live to climb things. Golden conures have a natural talent for climbing, often spending their time in the wild ascending the tree tops using their beak to help them reach higher and higher heights!
They may not have a tree to climb daily in captivity, but they’ll appreciate climb-able toys such as ladders, ropes and multi-perch play stands.
They Were Also Named After a Queen
Golden conures have two common names – the Golden conure and the Golden parakeet – but these stunning birds are also known by another name in some circles: the “Queen of Bavaria” conure.
In the aviculture industry, Golden conures are referred to almost exclusively as the Queen of Bavaria conure after the Queen of Bavaria herself was presented with a Golden conure as a gift. It’s no surprise that these birds were fit for royalty – gold is their name and nature!
Male Golden Conures Help to Incubate the Eggs
Both the female and male Golden conures are involved in the incubation process. Once the female conure has laid her eggs, the males will take it in turn with them to sit on the eggs for the full duration of the incubation period (around 30 days or so).
Unlike male behavior seen in other parrot species, Male conures also share parenting duties such as feeding once the conure hatchlings arrive.
They Need to Exercise Their Strong Jaw Muscles
Golden conures love using their beaks to help them climb, so if you’re planning on keeping one as a pet then you need to make sure you have plenty of chewable toys in their cage to keep their jaw muscles nice and strong.
Pet stores have specific chew toys that are perfect for Golden conures, but things like rope, leather and large beads (preferably wooden!) will be great candidates too.
They are One of the Most Expensive Birds on the Planet
Because of their rarity and vulnerable conservation status, it is hard to get hold of a Golden conure as a pet, and if you do, you can expect to pay around $2,000 for one, but some Golden conures have been known to sell to collectors for as much as $15,000.
Golden conures have long been considered rare birds, but their numbers are sadly declining rapidly today.
It Takes a Village (of Parrots) to Raise Them
Golden conure babies are very well protected in the wild, since many other neighboring parrots pitch in to help raise them. Alongside the father of the conure brood, Golden conure hatchlings are also raised in part by the small community of Golden parakeets that live in the tree hollow with the mother, helping protect them against toucans and other predators. So raising Golden conure babies is quite literally a team effort!
They are Only Found in a Specific Region of the Amazon
Golden conures are such rare birds because they are found only in the northernmost rainforests of the Amazon basin. In fact, the largest known population of Golden conure (around 500) can be found along the Tapajós River.
A factor making them rarer still is the continued destruction of their natural habitat and the unfortunate illegal poaching and selling of them within the parrot pet trade.
Owning One Requires a Permit
If you want to keep a Golden conure, you will need to go to a lot of effort. Believe it or not, these beautiful birds are as rare in captivity as they are in the wild, so if you want one, both you and the seller or breeder will need a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before you can purchase one.
Do your research beforehand to make sure a Golden conure is the right pet for you.