Pfrimer's Parakeets aka Pfrimer's Conures

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The Pfrimer's Conure or Pfrimer's Parakeet (Pyrrhura pfrimeri) has often been considered a subspecies of the White-eared Parakeet, as Pyrrhura leucotis pfrimeri. It was recently confirmed as a separate species based on a maternal lineage test (mtDNA), as well as range, differences in habitat and distinctive differences in plumage (it is the only member of the P. leucotis complex where the pale "ear" patch is greatly reduced).


Distribution / Range

The Pfrimer's Conure can be found in the area around Santa Maria de Taguatinga, Goiás, in northeastern Brazil, where it is restricted to deciduous and semi-deciduous Caatinga forests (= "white forest" or "white vegetation"). These conures prefer dense forests with tall trees.

Outside the breeding season, they are usually seen in groups of 15 to 20 birds. The breeding season in their natural habitat is from May to July. They are not sedentary and constantly move about. Bonded pairs tend to stay close together. They are usually difficult to detect in the foliage of the trees as they are well camouflaged by their mostly green plumage. However, their noisy calls and chattering cannot be missed.

This parrot is classified as Endangered by BirdLife International. The primary threats to their existence are the on-going habitat loss within its already fragmented range and capturing for the pet trade.


Description

The Pfrimer's Conure averages 22 - 23 cm (8.5 - 9 ins) in length, including its long tail. The plumage is mostly green with blue markings on the wing, as well as a red-brown rump, tail and belly. The chest and breast have dark green scallops. The face is chestnut-red while the crown, lower back of the neck (nape) and back of the neck (hind neck) are dull blue.

Similar Species:

Similar to the White-eared Conure (Pyrrhura leucotis) and Grey-breasted Conures (Pyrrhura griseipectus), except the Pfrimer's Conure has generally more blue on the head and a reduced auricular (ear) patch.

The main differences from the White-eared Conure are as follows:

  • Tthe forehead, lores, cheeks and part of ear-coverts (feathers covering the ears) are reddish-brown.
  • The crown, nape (lower back of neck) and back of the head are dull blue.
  • The breast is greenish-blue with whitish edging.
  • The periophthalmic (eye) ring is blackish.

Diet / Feeding

Their natural diet consists of a variety of fruits (including berries) and flowers, seeds, as well as insects and their larvae.

Captive diet: Plenty of fruits, vegetables and greenfood should be available to them, in addition to a quality dry food / seed mix consisting of safflower seeds, oats, some sunflower (also sprouted), hemp, buckwheat, millet, canary grass seed, millet spray, and rowanberries. Provide fresh branches with flowers and buds for extra nutrition and to satisfy their urge to chew. Vitamin and mineral supplements as needed.


Personality:

These playful conures easily grow confiding and are inquisitive and active. They are quiet for most of the day, but can be heard when alarmed. They enjoy flying and should be provided with plenty of opportunities to exercise. They are susceptible during acclimatization, but are hardy once acclimatized. They enjoy bathing and chewing on fresh branches. They can get aggressive towards other birds.


Conures as Pets (Suitability, Personality, Pros and Cons, Care Requirements)


Breeding/Reproduction:

Pfrimer's Conures are fairly easy to breed, but it's best to isolate pairs for breeding, as birds can disturb each other. Also, they can get aggressive towards other birds, particularly when in breeding mode.

The breeding season in the United States typically begins in April and the average clutch consists of 4 to 6 eggs, but 1 or 2 eggs are usually infertile. The incubation period is about 23 days and the young fledge ~ 50 days after hatching. The young mature when they are about 10 months old.

They should be provided with a spacious flight with the following minimum dimensions and environmental conditions:

  • outside flight 2.5 x 1 x 2 m (9 x 3 x 6 ft)
  • adjoining shelter 1 x 1 x 2 m (3 x 3 x 6 ft)
  • minimum temperature 5°C (41°F)

Below are the dimensions of nesting boxes usually used for these conures. This being said, the dimensions can vary widely, as they are influenced by the owner's and the birds' preferences.  The preferences of the breeding birds can also be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which they were hatched and reared. 

It is best to offer several sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes placed in various locations within the aviary. This allows the breeder birds to make their own choice.  Once a pair has chosen a specific nest-box/log and been successful in it, offer that one to them each breeding season.  Try and keep that one for their exclusive use, and all others can generally be removed. If the "spare" boxes are to be removed and moved to another flight, ensure the log / nest-box is cleaned to ensure the receptacle has the minimal contamination of mites, parasites and pathogens.

Log / Nest-box:

    • Marcy Covault from Feathered Companions Aviary suggests using a deeper box, either a bootbox or a vertical grandfather box (18" - 24" deep). Other breeders are successfully using a nest box of the following dimensions: 20 x 20 x 70 cm (8 x 8 x 28 ins). Some conures do accept cockatiel-sized boxes, but using a deeper box will reduce the conures' tendency to remove the shavings and lay their eggs on the bare wooden base. The nest box should be available all year long as these conures are not only using them for breeding, but also for roosting in and to keep warm in when outside temperatures drop..

    • Diameter of entrance hole: approx. 3 inches ( ~70 - 80 mm)

    • Inspection hole: Can be square or round. Diameter: ~4 inches (100 mm)

    • A Removable top / lid can be a useful access point for inspections and for cleaning.

    • Location and height of log / nest-box: Install in a sheltered part of the aviary at about 5 feet (~1.5 - 1.8 meters) height, but not too close to the roof to cause heat problems in the hotter months.

    • Angle of log or nest box: 45 degrees through to vertical.  Most boxes are vertical.

    • Nesting log / nest-box material: Add about 2 inches of decomposed suitable nest box litter to the bottom of the box to help stabilize the eggs and absorb the droppings from the chicks.

      Options for suitable nesting material are decomposed non-toxic saw dust, corn cob, shredded newspaper, clean straw / dried grass or wood shavings (i.e., Aspen shavings or wood chips). The larger wood chips the better, so the parents don't feed it to the babies or the chicks accidentally ingest it.

      Please note that some wood shavings - such as pine, cedar and redwood - give off aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols) and acids that are toxic and can cause dermatitis, allergic symptoms and irritation of the digestive tract. They should not be used in cages, aviaries, or nestboxes.

    • Incubation: Both hen and cock share in incubating the eggs.

Nest inspections are generally not tolerated.  If nest inspection is necessary, wait until both parents have left the nest.  They can be aggressive and protective of the nest area when breeding.

Additional Bird Breeder Resources.


Taxonomy / Other Names

Genus: English: Red-tailed Conures ... Dutch: Roodstaartparkieten ... German: Rotschwanzsittiche ... French: Perruche à queue rouge

Species: leucotis pfrimeri ... English: Pfrimer's Conure ... Dutch: Pfrimers Witoorparkiet ... German: Pfrimers WeißohrSittich ... French: Perruche oreillon blanc Ribeiro

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson



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