The Golden Conure: More Precious Than Gold


First described by Rosemary Low in Endangered Parrots as a conure more precious than gold (Low, 1984), the Queen of Bavaria's or Golden Conure Aratinga guarouba deserves its reputation. Of all the parrots, none is more brilliantly clad, more raucous in behavior, or more endearing in its personality. In today's market, a breeding pair of the Queen of Bavaria's Conure is literally worth its weight in gold.

The Golden Conure evokes many emotions in the aviculturist, but the first reaction is usually awe, followed quickly by a lasting reverence. This is a parrot in the truest sense. The broad head and beak lend the imposing appearance of a macaw. A long, tapered tail balances this otherwise top heavy bird and gives it an overall regal appearance. The rich golden yellow plumage of the body and tail are in· striking contrast to the dark green primary flights. If they had nothing more to offer than good looks, this conure would be among the most desirable of all companion or aviary birds. Beyond this, Golden Conures are cherished for their rarity, their endangered status, and their captivating nature.

The Golden Conure is a bird worth the waiting, the planning, the paperwork, and the expense, rewarding the breeder far beyond normal expectations. Rarely does an aviculturist have an opportunity to work with a bird that is both a joy to manage and a deserving conservation project. Aratinga guarouha is seriously endangered in the wild by loss of its native habitat in the Amazon rain forest, and relatively few exist in captivity to ensure their longterm survival. The sense of pride and satisfaction that comes from successfully breeding these birds is immeasurable.

The great surprise to most who are fortunate enough to know these birds is not their obvious beauty, but their engaging personalities. A handfed Golden Conure will exhibit an unusual trust in its keeper. Young Goldens enjoy handling to the extent that most will lie totally relaxed on their backs in your hand. Fortunately, they love each other even more than people and will usually be seen in close contact, whether they are playing, preening, mock fighting, or roosting. This high degree of socialization is a natural adaptation, as they are communal breeders.

From a practical point of view, Golden Conures possess all of the qualities necessary to ensure an unending demand. In addition, they have a high market value coupled with a moderate size. Larger birds have greater requirements for space, food, cleaning, and all of the other factors that limit the number of birds one can care for properly.

Goldens are unlike other conures to the extent that it has been proposed they be given their own genus (Guarouha guarouha) taxinomically. Because of their massive head and mandible, many people feel that Goldens more closely resemble macaws than conures. In their behavior and facial expression, if not their size, they bear a strong resemblance to the Hyacinth Macaw. Golden Conures share the gentle behavior and ease of handling that is typical of many larger parrots with massive beaks. Although their conformation more closely resembles a macaw, their call and the interspersion of green in the yellow plumage of immature Goldens are characteristic of a conure. The yellow plumage is softer and generally longer than that of comparably sized conures or macaws. The inevitable conclusion is that this parrot is a unique treasure. Health Considerations

Golden Conures are very hardy birds and they appear to be as resistant to disease as other conures. They are, of course, susceptible to the viruses and infectious diseases that plague other parrots; however, they do not suffer from any species-specific ailments. The captive U.S. population of Goldens has been relatively free of disease problems.

It has been reported that Golden Conure chicks require constant handfeeding to avoid stunting, a condition of underdevelopment usually associated with malnourishment. I have not found this to be the case. In the absence of an infection, Golden Conure chicks develop rapidly and require no more attention than those of any other parrot species. I believe that the poor immune response of some Golden chicks is responsible for these reports.

My experience in rearing Golden Conures has been exclusively with artificially incubated eggs. Although productivity is enhanced, the chicks do not receive the advantage of antigens from the crop milk of the hen. A few of these chicks are weakened by bacterial infections during the first week, but even these will thrive with no noticeable loss in development once the initial problem is resolved. In all cases of slow growth, I have found the chicks to respond to antibiotic or fungal drug therapy. (Cultures and sensitivity tests are invaluable in diagnosis of these problems in all parrot species.)

I am aware of very few losses of adult Goldens due to disease.



Forshaw, J.M., 1989, Parrots of the World, 3rd (revised) edn., Willoughby, N.S.W., Australia:

Lansdown Editions.

Hayward, j., 1982, The Conure of Gold, Catterton:


Lieberman, A.A., 1993, Golden Conure International Studbook, 3rd edn., San Diego Zoo.

Low, R., 1984, Endangered Parrots, Poole, Dorset, U.K.: 13landford Press.

Silva, T., 1989, A Monograph of Endangered Parrots, Pickering, Ontario, Canada: Silvio Mattacchione & Co.