Raising Jendays In Arizona

Published: Caged Bird Hobbyist July/August l994

Psittacine Breeding & Research Farm
Box 13, Point Arena, CA 95468 USA
PH: (213) 819-1723

Conures - they represent a delightful variety of color, shape, size and personalities. We raise only one type, the Jenday, also called the Jandaya Conure (Aratinga jandaya). These are South American birds from the Amazon basin of Brazil. /at 30 centimeters (12 inches) long, they are sleek birds that resemble macaws. What they lack in size they compensate for with their bright, sparkling personalities.

As Pets, a single conure can completely fill your home and heart. It is possible to have more than one as a pet and still keep them loving and tame. Babies are especially snugly, pushy and sweet - all at the same time. Although not the most articulate talkers, they will elicit at least 15 words and short phrases.

Their smaller size makes them ideal for city dwellers or people who have limited space for outdoor aviaries. My sister, Gloria, has a mini-Victorian home and keeps her pair's cage in the living room. The cage is open on one side with a nests box in the corner. Her pair produced one baby which she co-raised. The birds did the feeding, and Gloria did the loving. They are highly adaptable to our lifestyles.

Breeding Stock: Our breeding stock came from a wide variety of sources. The first bird was from a small pet store. We all have seen that bird - the one that sticks it tongue on the window and says "Take me home!". A proven pair was traded for at another pet shop. They cost us about 40 canaries. Some of the older birds I purchased from private parties were more than ready to be placed in breeding situations. Two were purchased from people who smoked cigarettes. Those birds smelled like tobacco for a long time. One died within a year; she had a tumor the size of a thumb in her abdomen. The other has yet to produce a clutch. Exchanges with other breeders and holding back our own babies has brought our total to 10 pairs. We have third-generation domestic bred birds that are just getting ready to nest, in addition to the "old timers" that have been producing for years.

Arranging Pairs: When arranging pairs, we use several strategies. Older hens that are very tolerant are sometimes placed with younger males. Youngsters from any given season can be caged as a pair and allowed to mature together. Older, wilder birds should be matched for temperament; some are more aggressive than others, and supervision is required. I do not mix juveniles with seasoned adults, as this would be asking for trouble.

Setting the pairs up for breeding is simple. Because conures are cavity nesters, they prefer to sleep in a nest box. Anywhere you hang their box is home. For nests, we use metal drums (clean, used vitamin barrels) which vary in height from 20 to 28 inches and in diameter from 12 to 14 inches. I use a cutting torch to make an entrance hole 3 to 4 inches wide at the top end of the barrel, and another smaller hole just under that to hold a perch. A tiny hole in the back, just above the nest material line, allows me to peek in. I place a wooden liner on the bottom of the nest box, as Jendays tend to throw nest material out.

In the aviary, the nest boxes are hung as far apart from each other and as close to the ceiling as possible. The individual sections of my aviary are 3 feet wide by 5 feet deep by 6 feet tall, with small doors that open into a common hallway. A misting system combined with heat-deflecting roof coating ( on corrugated tin) allows them to breed right through our hot summers. Our winters are mild, so little extra care is needed. If we do have a freezing night, I leave a light on a for a few extra hours in the evening, to simulate a longer day. This enables the birds to feed for a longer period an d have enough stored food energy to make it through the night. High carbohydrate foods are fed as an extra treat on cold nights. I use nuts.

Egg Laying: The average age for my own domestic hens to begin to lay eggs is 2 years. Most of them have it right by age 3. Clutch size is three to four pretty white eggs averaging 8 1/2 grams in weight. After you remove babies from the nest, it takes 21 to 24 days for the parents to nest again. I have two pairs that nest nine months of the year, only stopping in winter when the days are shortest. Eggs are laid at 72 hour intervals, and incubation begins immediately after the first egg is laid.

Nest checks are important because hatching is also 72 hours apart. In the wild, if there is a shortage of food, many times the first two chicks would be the only ones to survive. The younger, smaller babies cannot compete for food with larger, older siblings. To help relieve stress on your parent birds, you may want to remove the older babies for hand rearing, just as you would with any clutch of multiple chicks.

Hand Feeding; I have fed several clutches of birds from day one. It is a difficult task but certainly not impossible. New babies weigh only 7 grams -- very tiny. It is best to leave the babies in the nest for at least two to three weeks if you can, but what is best is not always possible. The sample weight chart shows the average weights of four babies of the same clutch, all successfully hand fed.
Although we currently raise only Jendays, as time space and money allow, I would love to add other conures to my collection. I am certain they are all as charming as my Jendays!

Abbreviated Average Weight Charts, Hand Fed Day One

WEIGHT (grams)
This is the weight of the egg. Fed every 2 hours until day 5

handfeeding every 3 hours
feeding on demand. eyes opening, pin feathers all over. sleeping the night.
generally by day 90 to 100 they are eating formula by themselves and are ready to train to an adults diet. I continue offering formula until they refuse to eat it. Usually weaned by
120 to 140 days of age.