Finsch’s Conure

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© June DiCiocco
Edited by Howard Voren, Linda Seger

My goal in writing this article is to spark some interest and get serious breeders interested in this wonderful bird. I have the largest collection in the world, and I truly want to get these birds into the hands of other breeders to preserve the species.

Breeding in aviculture:

  • Occasionally achieved, but not difflcult.
    [Note: In reality, this is seldom achieved as the species is not frequently kept.]
  • Clutch 3 to 4 eggs; incubation 23 days.
  • Fledging period 50 days.
  • Often does not start breeding for several years.
  • Position nestbox 10″ x 10″ x 24″ in sheltered place.

Photos can be seen in the “Lexicon of Parrots” on the Arndt-Verlag website.

The statement above is from the “Lexicon of Parrots.” I agree with most of what is said, 3 to 5 eggs, 21 to 23 days. Handfed birds are ready to start weaning at 7 weeks. I have had initial breedings at three years my nest boxes are 12″X 12″ X 24″H They are hefty medium sized birds. Very loud, but very intelligent. These birds are non-destructive. They do not chew wood.

juvfinI feed a sunflower based mix with dried fruit, vegs, nuts, safflower, oats, millet, corn etc. and pellets. I add corn on the cob when available, which is most all the time here in South Carolina, and apples and oranges.

They will feed babies until I take them, which is 12 to 21 days, or they can successfully parent raise chicks.

Egg laying can be every day or every other day. Mine don’t sit until at least the third egg is laid. You can leave eggs sit at 50°F for about five days as long as they are turned a few times a day, but I have never done this.

The Finsch’s conure is a 12″, mostly green Aratinga conure with a super personality. No known sub-species has been reported, although in some old publications there is a reference to the White-eyed conure being a subspecies. This is yet to be proven but there are many similarities between the two species.

The tiny red triangle which sits squarely on the front of its head can cause this species to be confused with the Red-fronted conure (A. frontata). The size of the adult Red-fronted is noticeably larger at 15 plus inches. The underwing coloration is identical with that of the White-eyed conure which can create further confusion in juvenile birds. Juveniles are hard to identify and can be sold as other species as a result.

Unfortunately, there are very few aviculturists in the United States who keep the Finsch’s conure, although breeding them is quite easy and they make great parents. Because they do not have the brilliant colors of some other Aratinga conures, their appeal to the pet market is not as strong. Immature Finsch’s usually have no red feather coloration at all. I have raised them to a year of age with only subtle color changes under the wing and a few tiny dots of red over the cere.

Finsch’s conures were still being imported into the United States until the early 1980’s, but to my knowledge have not been imported since. Their habitat at that time was considered to be Southern Nicaragua southward to Panama, with the exception of western Costa Rica.

According to Kevin Sharp, an avid bird enthusiast and personal friend who has traveled to Costa Rica many times in recent years, the Finsch’s conure is becoming more common in Costa Rica as land is cleared, and they are much more common on the Caribbean side and in the central plateau. They have even been observed on the Pacific side in the extreme south and occasionally in the Guanacaste region (in the northwest).

The Finsch’s conure is listed in the “Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica.” One of the authors is Alexander Skutch, an American living in Costa Rica, who is one of the foremost ornithologists working in Latin America. He is well known in his field for not collecting specimens (killing the birds) to find out what they’ve eaten. Instead, Mr. Skutch maintains that this information can be obtained by observing their behavior.

Nesting season for Finsch’s conures in the wild is toward the end of the dry season, beginning of the wet season which occurs in April or May. The Guide gives nesting sights as hollow trees and limbs, and the hollows in the broken off tops of palms. The Guide also claims they have been known to burrow into the base of large epiphytes (bromeliads).

In an aviary situation they can be raised as any other pair of conures. My specific cages are suspended 2′ x 2′ x 4′ long, with a feeding station at the 2 foot end, and the nest box at the same end. I separate each cage by one foot of space, and the nestbox end is shielded from view by a 2 foot square piece of metal. The nest box size I use is 12″ x 12″ x 24″ high. I use a combination of sterilized pine and aspen shavings for nesting material. I find the Finsch’s do not chew up their nest boxes as do other conures, nor do they dump their bedding out of the box.

Their diet consists mainly of a vitamin fortified sunflower mix and safflower with fruit and nuts. Fresh corn and apples and millet. I also use a protein egg product. I always have uncolored medium sized avian biscuit in their cages they all love it. I also use a calcium supplement because the Finsch’s are prolific birds and some pairs will lay continuously.

I use water bottles and a stainless steel bathing vessel that I fill when I am in the aviary servicing the cages and remove the bath water when I leave. Most will bathe on cue.

I hand-feed most of the clutches but do occasionally parent raise some of the young. I personally have no problems with hand raised Finsch’s going to nest and rearing young. The only difference I have found between the domestic hand-fed adults and the parent-raised adults is the hand-raised birds will take a year or two longer to get the idea of what to do breeding-wise.

I have some pairs where one is an imported bird and one is a hand-raised bird again with no difficulty in production or raising chicks. I have purchased birds that have been a family pet for a decade and placed them with a mate and they go to nest usually in the second season. I have never experienced mate aggression with any of this species. They won’t even chew their perches to pieces like other conures do.

In my setup I will put an experienced pair next to a younger pair. I start pairing my birds at one year of age and let them bond for a season or two before they are ready. I have not had any problems with egg binding or aggressiveness with their chicks. I don’t have birds that will squabble from cage to cage either. I find the Finsch’s the most people oriented bird amongst the variety of conures I raise.

I have never been asked to stay away from a cage by a Finsch’s at any time. They will all come to greet me and ask for a pet on the head except when the female is on eggs. Then the male will display and make gestures towards me but I never push the issue and they never get serious about attacking me. Once the clutch is taken to be hand-raised or reared they go right back to their sweet mode. They stay cuddly as pets and I have yet to be seriously nipped by one. I have imported males that will still come to me even though they have sired babies and have their mate with them.

The average clutch size is three to four chicks at a time incubation is 21 to 23 days and they fledge at seven to eight weeks. Some pairs will have to be shut down from breeding by removing the nest boxes or they will lay throughout the year. I prefer not to allow that to take place.

The Finch’s Conure makes a great pet for the average household. They are not fragile and they don’t seem to hold a grudge. They are cuddly and loveable clowns and are capable of learning to talk. Most of my breeder birds will greet me with various words as I enter the aviary.

Most of the Finsch’s that are raised here or have come here from other places are AVID microchipped. All the young are closed banded and surgically sexed.

I have serious concerns for the future of the Finsch’s conure since they can be confused with some of the other red-headed conure species. They could easily be hybridized by inexperienced breeders who cannot properly identify them.

Requests to raise Finsch’s conures have slowed and I have been forced to stop raising but two clutches annually. Some proven pairs I have sold have refused to lay under their new conditions. I don’t know why. Domestic sales are also slow because the color is green basically in the newly weaned chicks.

I have found several breeders in Europe who have started to raise these birds recently. I hope they will be successful. The good news is the Finsch’s conurs seems to be plentiful in the wild.

June DiCiocco, Hideaway Farms Aviary

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