Aviculturists and bird owners have always been fascinated by brightly-colored birds. This has informed the recent popularity of the conure. These are members of the parrot species with long slender bodies and long pointed tails.
Conure colors range from brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows to lush greens. The smallest among the conure species is the green-cheeked conure with a body length of about eight inches, while the largest is the Patagonian conure with a length of 18-20 inches.
Their small sizes, friendly nature, intelligence, and easy care make conures perfect pets.
Conures will generally live for 20 years in the wild but can live up to thirty years with optimal care in captivity. You can, however, breed your conure to guarantee the continuity of its species.
Since the birds live in open savannas, forests, palm groves, and seasonally flooded shrubs, there is scanty information on their breeding in the wild.
Even so, breeding in captivity is quite easy provided you know what to expect. Like most birds, conures will lay eggs that hatch later to get young ones. You should note that female conures do not get “pregnant”, but rather lay fertilized or unfertilized eggs that are incubated then hatch.
Below are some tidbits on what you can expect on egg-laying in conures.
When do Conures Lay Their Eggs?
You might come across an egg in your female conure’s cage quite unexpectedly, even when there is no male in sight. It is normal for female conures to lay eggs whether or not there is a male provided it is the breeding season.
The egg, in this instance, is not necessarily fertilized meaning that it does not contain a baby bird. As lighting patterns and weather start changing to herald the breeding season, a female conure’s endocrine system signals that it is time to release an egg.
Though the egg will be released and laid, it will not be fertilized if no mating has taken place.
Thankfully, conures will exhibit several signs to indicate that they are ready for mating. The signs are largely a result of hormonal changes. For example, a conure that was initially mild-mannered and meek might start acting out when ready for mating.
This should be of no concern because the bird will revert to its normal behavior after breeding. Some of the signs that your conure is ready for mating include:
- Biting more than normal
- Becoming territorial
- Plucking at the feathers more so in female conures
- Displaying signs of affection like tail wagging and wing flapping
During mating, the ovum attached to the egg yolk in the female conure will be sucked into the oviduct then fertilized. The ovum will then travel through a tube into the magnum where the egg white is produced.
The resultant product then travels into the uterus for the creation of an eggshell. In general, this process takes twenty hours. Therefore, after mating, it will take 20-24 hours for your conure to lay a fertilized egg.
What is the Incubation Period of Conure Eggs?
During incubation, the embryo in a conure’s egg develops into a baby conure under the right conditions and temperature. In the wild, conures will incubate their eggs, but in captivity, some breeders opt to use incubators to guarantee the conditions are optimal.
In artificial incubation, the eggs are kept at temperatures of 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels of 30-50%. The eggs are also turned about 4-8 times daily. The yolk in the egg will provide all the nutrients for the chick during incubation while the egg white protects the chick and helps it grow.
The female conure will incubate the egg for 23-27 days. Though males rarely incubate eggs, they sometimes can sit on them for a few days.
How Many Eggs Will Conures Lay at Once?
Conures will lay 3-5 eggs in one clutch. The eggs are laid one at a time following mating after a day or two until the clutch is complete. Signs that the conure is ready to lay an egg include losing of feathers around the belly to reveal a bald skin patch, a rounded belly, and a distended, swollen cloaca.
The plucking of feathers around the belly is different from the self-mutilating behaviors that most conure owners mistake it for since it stops after egg-laying, unlike the latter.
However, not all eggs in a clutch will hatch after they are laid. Some conures abandon their eggs and will not incubate them while others break them. Egg abandoning is typical in hand-raised birds. It has also been observed in conures that are uncomfortable being in their cages and resort to guarding their nest boxes.
You can remove the laid eggs from the cages in both instances and incubate them in an artificial incubator. The right diet for breeding can minimize the risk of egg breaking in your conure.
How Many Times a Year do Conures Lay Eggs?
Though conures can have multiple clutches in one breeding season, this is not advisable because it increases the risk of health concerns in your birds. Aim for a maximum of three clutches for your conure annually.
You can discourage the laying of a lot of clutches by removing the nest box after getting the maximum number of eggs in a clutch or removing the male conure.
The best time for your conure to start laying eggs is not less than a year after molting, nesting behaviors, and adult plumage. These are indicators that your bird is mentally and physically ready for egg-laying.
To encourage laying, have a large sturdy nest box for the bird, let the female conure bond with a male, feed the female on many soft foods, and let your female conure have maximum daylight hours.
Include a lot of hemp seed, calcium, nuts, and seeds in the female conure’s diet during egg-laying. These foods ease the egg-laying process more so if it is the bird’s first time.
How to Tell if a Conure’s Eggs are Fertilized?
You might have taken all the right steps during mating but are not so sure if the eggs laid by your conure are fertilized. The ideal choice for you to know whether or not the eggs are fertilized is through the “candle test”.
This involves gently holding up the egg in question to a candle. If you see through the egg, this indicates that it is not fertilized. However, if the egg is opaque, it probably is fertilized, and under the right conditions will hatch.
The candle test can be done on days 4, 10, and 17 of the incubation process. During these times, check for signs of embryo development such as spider-like veins and a dark spot in the middle of the egg.
You can also use the floating test. In it, you will take the egg out of its nest or incubator a few days after it is laid. If you take it out of the nest when it is too early, it can stunt the development of the embryo.
Place the egg in warm water. Unfertilized eggs will typically float because there is not enough volume in them to sink.
The eggs laid by your conure will hatch after 23-28 days of incubation. Once hatched the young conures will stay in their parents’ cages for 7-8 weeks then leave at 9-10 weeks old.
Conures attain their sexual maturity at 1-2 years, but they might not be physically and mentally ready for egg-laying at this point.
The information above has hopefully helped you know what to expect when a conure lays eggs and can now successfully breed your bird. You can even cross-breed a conure though this requires tact to get a healthy offspring.
The most common conure crossbreeds are Sunday conures that are crossbreeds of the sun and jenday conures.