|At Beale Park, Reading, Berkshire, England|
Conurus weddellii Deville, 1851
The dusky-headed parakeet (Aratinga weddellii), also known as Weddell's conure or dusky conure in aviculture, is a small green Neotropical parrot with dusty grey head found in wooded habitats in the western Amazon basin of South America. It prefers semiopen habitats such as várzea, forest edge, and forest remnants, but can also be found in coffee plantations. Some of the countries where it lives are Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela. It is generally common and its habitat preference makes it less vulnerable than many other Amazonian species. Consequently, it is considered to be of least concern by BirdLife International and IUCN.
This long-tailed species is generally green in color (both lutino and blue mutations are rare, but do exist in captivity) with a gray-brown head, a blue-tipped tail, and remiges that are dark gray from below, mainly blue from above. The bill is black, and it has a broad, bare, white (sometimes yellow-tinged) eye-ring. With a typical length of 25–28 cm (10–11 in) and a weight around 100 grams, it is slightly smaller than the sun conure. Many people call these conures minimacaws because they have skin near their beak and eyes, similar to the macaw.
It is social, and usually found in pairs or small groups. It may even flock with different species of conures. When food is plentiful, it may form flocks of up to 100 members. It eats fruit, seeds, and flowers, and searches decaying wood for insect larvae. It also ingests mineral-rich soil, e.g., from a clay lick, as a supplement. A pair raises their offspring together, nesting in woodpecker holes in trees or arboreal termite nests.
Consuming clay is believed to provide a mineral supplement and neutralise toxins in their diet. Their predators (along with many other neotropical parrots) include many birds of prey, monkeys, and in some cases, jaguars.
They do well in captivity. They are fairly easy to breed if provided with a durable nest box, and will lay up to three clutches per year. They are known to be quiet, compared to other conure species, but still very energetic and clownish, like most conures. These conures' lifespans range from 25 to 50 years, though their typical lifespans are usually 35–40 years.
Recently, they have been sighted as a colony in coastal districts of Lima, Perú. They probably came as pets, and have settled in this city.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Aratinga weddellii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Deville, E. (1851). "Note sur espèces nouvelles d'oiseaux provenant de l'expédition de M. Castelnau". Revue et magasin de zoologie pure et appliquée. 2nd ser. 3 (5): 209.
- Juniper, T.; Parr, M. (1998). A Guide to the Parrots of the World. East Sussex: Pica Press. ISBN 1-873403-40-2.
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- "Dusky-headed parakeet - BirdLife Species Factsheet". BirdLife International (2008). Retrieved 3 January 2009.
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