Raising Conures: Breeding and Raising Baby Sun Conures

Equipment Needed

When breeding sun conures, or any parrot for that matter, depending on whether you are going to let the breeding pair incubate and rear the chicks or not, you may require additional equipment.

Incubator

An incubator is an expensive piece of equipment that is not really necessary for breeding sun conures unless you intend removing the eggs from the parents to incubate and raise artificially. This may be necessary on the vary rare occasion that the pair abandons the clutch midway through incubation. However, most breeders prefer to let the parents incubate the eggs, and if they wish to hand-rear the chicks, they pull them from the nest when they are a few weeks old.

Brooder

If the chicks are removed from the nest to be hand-fed you will require a brooder to keep them warm throughout their initial growth phase until they have acquired their downy plumage and are able to regulate their own body temperature.

Leg Bands

Leg bands assist the breeder with record keeping and allow him to get a full history of the bird by looking up the ring number in his records. They are also useful to a potential buyer and gives the seller credibility. If as a breeder you are wanting to place long term identification leg bands on your chicks, these need to be fitted early on in the growth phase when the ring will easily slip over the chicks foot. Sun conures can be ringed with stainless steel or aluminum closed leg bands with an internal diameter of 6.5mm when they are between 14-16 days old.

Parent-Raised Chicks

After the chicks hatch they grow rather quickly, and start acquiring pin feathers at around 4 weeks old. If left in the nest box, the parents will continue to feed them until they are fully weaned from around 8 weeks old.

If you are wanting to leave the job of raising the chicks to the parents, it is best to not interfere with the pair and leave them in peace while they incubate the eggs and raise the chicks. Parent-raised young will imprint on the parent birds, and will not be naturally tame like hand-raised young. Parent-raised chicks make better breeding stock than hand-reared chicks, require much less effort to raise and fetch lower prices on the market.

Hand-Raised Chicks

Hand-raised sun conures make delightful pets and as they are one of the most popular types of conures, they are very much in demand. Sun conure babies can be pulled from the nest anytime after hatching, but it is recommended that they be left in the nest until they are at least 3 weeks old, preferably four. Hand-reared chicks grow up thinking they are humans, treating humans as con-specifics. They shower their owners with kisses, preen their hair and they love to cuddle up close like they would with a mate. However, hand-rearing a baby parrot is a complex task that requires a fair amount of skill and a large amount of dedication. The babies need to be syringe-fed a specially prepared commercial or homemade hand-rearing formula that will meet the developmental requirements of a growing sun conure chick. This needs to be freshly prepared and fed at the correct temperature, every few hours around the clock. The chicks must be placed in a brooder to keep them warm in the absence of a parent bird to do brooding duties. There are many things that can go wrong during this delicate phase of the chicks development, and complications can quickly result in the loss of a chick. The older the chicks are when you remove them for hand-feeding, the stronger they will be, and they will also not require feeding as often as newly hatched chicks.

Co-Parented Chicks

Another option is to leave the chicks for the parents to raise, and to remove them from the nest to be hand-fed and played with, then return them to the nest for the parents to brood and to co-feed. This is only recommended in situations where the parent birds are relatively tame themselves, and fully trust their owners, as it does run the risk of the pair showing redirected aggression, and possibly killing the chicks, or the male bird attacking the hen in frustration. If the parents accept this interference, it offers the benefit of reducing the responsibility, and time consuming task, of feeding and brooding young chicks 24/7, and it allows the parent birds to have the pleasure of raising their own brood to fledging age, yet you will be blessed with lovely tame baby sun conures that are fully habituated to humans when they fledge.

Whatever, method you choose, you are sure to find the experience rewarding, both in terms of the joy and satisfaction it will bring you, and possibly also financially. As there is a market for both tame pets and new young breeding stock of these very popular birds, you may want to consider raising baby sun conures for profit, but be sure to do your homework first, and consider the viability of such an enterprise. Whether you will be able to part with the endearing chicks that you have raised yourself, is another question of course ; )

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Image Credit:  Geek2Nurse; Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

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