First U.S. Breeding of the Crimson-bellied Conure (Pyrrhura perlata perlata)


T he Crimson-bellied Conure Pyrrhura p. perlata formerly known as the Pyrrhura rbodogaster, was first legally imported into the United States in July 1998. In the wild, it is found mainly in Brazil, but flocks have reportedly crossed the border into Bolivia and have been sighted in Bolivian national parks. Crimson-bellied Conures are still rather abundant in the wild, and to date there are no formal conservation or recovery plans aimed at its survival in its native habitat.

In captivity, however, this species has always been rather rare. This is probably because Brazil has not allowed export of its native birds for many years, and prior to that, only a handful of this species had been in the hands of breeders across the world. Captive breeding has been very successful, and in the last decade, Crimsonbellied Conures have become more and more available to interested aviculturists in Europe and South Africa.

Here in the United States, importation has been stifled by the Wild Bird Conservation Act since 1992, and no legal consignments of this species have ever been recorded prior to July of 1998. A record of "Pyrrbura perlata" was found on import summaries from the mid 1980s, but that was prior to the renaming of this bird, and was probably a consignment of Pearly Conures.

Under the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992, legitimate hreeders can apply for exemptions to import restrictions if they possess sufficient knowledge of the species to be imported, and if they form a studbook and breeding plan for imported birds. An avicultural


organization must also "vouch" for the hreeders in the program and act as oversight to the program. A program such as this was formed for Pyrrbura perlata perlata; and limited imports took place in 1998 and 1999. To date, eight pairs have been imported into the United States, and five of these pairs have produced offspring.

TI1e first import of five pairs took place in July of 1998. After their mandatory 30-day government quarantine, five pairs of sub-adult birds were moved to Texas. They were setup in cages that measured approximately three feet square. Wooden perches and wooden nesthoxes were provided. Nests measured 18 inches in height, by nine inches square. A twoinch entrance hole was placed near the top and a small wire ladder was stapled to the interior of the box to allow the birds easy access, in and out.

The pairs could see each other, as there was only about one foot of space between the cages. However, pairs seemed to be content with each other and there was little interaction between the arranged mates. The birds spent the majority of their time on the perches, in the sun, or on the food bowl. They bathed everyday in the water bowls and enjoyed the rain. Most of the pairs ate together and there was no squabbling at the food bowls.

All 10 birds were in perfect feather upon release from quarantine, and only one bird out of all the imported birds developed a habit of chewing on its feathers. Actually, this bird only chewed the small red feathers on its shoulders, and did not chew anywhere


The Crimson-bellied Conure in adult plumage.

else, nor did it feather-pluck its mate.

From the moment the birds were setup, they were placing very small feathers in their nest boxes. They would mix these feathers in with the pine shavings that were offered as nesting material. At night, literally all of the birds retired to the nestbox until dawn.

The diet consisted of sprouted sunflower seed, soaked hard corn, dry wheat, oats, millet, sorghum, milo, buckwheat, and ZuPreem Breeder Fruit Blend pellets. To this was added apple, carrot, celery, and occasionally, orange. The birds seemed to relish the apple, carrot, and pellets the most. As the weather turned cooler, more seeds were eaten than in the heat of the summer.