sun conure breeding guide

How To Breed Sun Conures?

Breeding sun conures is a rewarding process, but many things could go wrong. This includes egg binding, an impacted oviduct, mating aggression, and stress.

To breed sun conures, you’ll need a bonded pair. Sun conures become sexually mature when they reach 2 years old. Introduce them gradually so that they don’t become aggressive toward each other. Ensure that the cage is large enough for them to breed and provide a nesting box.

Not all attempts to breed will be successful. However, by doing everything you can to create the right environment, you’re more likely your sun conures are to lay fertilized eggs than unfertilized eggs

Are Sun Conures Easy To Breed?

Sun conures are prolific breeders. Your breeding sun conure pair must be able to take flight and stretch their wings and while fertilizing the eggs.

It’s unlikely that a cage will be big enough, so you must let your parrots out for several hours a day to carry out their natural breeding behavior.

How Old Do Sun Conures Have To Be To Breed?

As stated, sun conures reach sexual maturity when they are 2 years old. If an owner attempts to breed a pair of sun conures earlier than this, it’ll be unsafe.

So, keep any parrots of the opposite sex separated for the first two years to prevent them from accidentally breeding. Signs a parrot wants to mate include:

  • Biting, lunging, and aggression
  • Territorial behavior
  • Physical displays
  • Screaming
  • Attraction to owners
  • Hiding in the nesting box
  • Backing her vent against the cage bars

If you observe these behaviors, your parrot wants a mate and will do anything it can to breed.

What time of year do sun conures breed?

What Time of Year Do Sun Conures Breed?

The breeding months usually occur during the start of spring.

The food supply increases as the weather gets warmer, so it’s the ideal time for parrots to breed and raise their young. The breeding season and behaviors last for 1-2 weeks.

How Many Times A Year Do Sun Conures Lay Eggs?

Healthy sun conures produce at least 2 clutches a year.

However, some parrots suffer from chronic egg laying and will lay multiple eggs throughout the year. According to VCA Hospitals, this is where a female lays repeated clutches or more than the usual number of eggs without a mate.

Because of the high levels of calcium needed to lay eggs, affected sun conures can experience malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies. To prevent this:

  • Ensure that your sun conure has a healthy diet and add calcium supplements.
  • Minimize your parrot’s exposure to sunlight, which may discourage egg-laying.
  • Move the cage to a different area of the house.
  • Minimize any handling and refrain from stroking or petting until egg-laying behavior decreases.
  • Stop removing eggs as they’re laid. Allow the parrot to sit on them for the duration of a standard hatch.

These will discourage your parrot from laying eggs and control any unwelcome behavior.

How Long Does It Take Sun Conures To Lay Eggs?

It takes most sun conures 1-3 days to lay their eggs. According to Zoo Biology, the more comfortable a parrot feels in its environment, the more likely it is to lay eggs. The egg-laying process will be quicker if you provide:

  • A large cage
  • Soft, fatty food
  • Exercise
  • Mental simulation

The eggs should emerge pointy-end first when they’re ready to come out. The mother will lay and sit on fertilized eggs until they hatch.

She’ll ignore the eggs if they’re unfertilized. She might sit on them for 1-2 days first before abandoning them once she realizes they’re never going to hatch.

How Many Babies Do Sun Conures Have?

As mentioned, sun conures produce at least 2 clutches a year containing 2-4 eggs each.

The hen lays the eggs one at a time, each after a gap of 1-2 days. The eggs hatch after about a 23-27 day incubation period, during which time the females incubate them by sitting on them.

Male sun conures rarely incubate the eggs, although they may do for a short period of time. After hatching, the chicks remain in the nest for 7-8 weeks and leave after 9-10 weeks.  

What Equipment Do You Need To Breed Sun Conures?

Breeding sun conures requires specialized equipment to make their lives comfortable while incubating their eggs. Parrots need a comfortable environment to breed, or they’ll become agitated. These supplies include:

Breeding Cage

Even though sun conures aren’t that large, they require a comfortable environment to breed successfully.

They’ll mate in a smaller cage, but a breeding cage size that’s at least 48” x 24” x 24” is ideal. Ensure that the bars are spaced between 1/2 to 3/4 inches apart to prevent them from escaping.

Once your sun conures start breeding, the female will become sedentary as she occupies the nest. The male will spend time in and around the nest, frequently checking on his mate to ensure she’s okay.

The pair will need time to adjust to their surroundings, and many breeding sun conures appreciate being separated into their cage together, away from other parrots, during this time.

Nesting Box

To replicate wild conditions, place a wooden nesting box in the cage. This is where the mother will lay her eggs.

Your sun conures will chew and destroy it, but a wooden box provides a more natural environment, replicating tree cavities. Wood also retains warmth, contributing to a successful breeding incubation and rearing program.

Incubator

Even though the mother will incubate her eggs, having an incubator on hand is recommended in case something goes wrong or the parrot becomes sick. Incubators mimic the natural process, providing evenly dispersed heat.

In the unfortunate event that your parrot gets sick or dies, you’ll need to raise the chicks yourself. This means that they won’t survive without an incubator.

Brooder

You only need an incubator if the parent parrots aren’t raising the chicks. Newborn chicks go straight into the brooder once they’ve hatched. It provides the heat and humidity they need until they can regulate their own temperature.

Specialized Diet

Female sun conures require a balanced diet with the nutrients needed to produce strong eggshells and healthy babies. Breeding parrots require higher levels of calcium and protein than usual to stay healthy.

In particular, many parrots are deficient in calcium, especially during the breeding stage. The body’s calcium stores get quickly used up to create the eggs, so breeding parrots need a constant supply of calcium.

A cuttlebone is a good source of calcium, as is:

  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Bamboo
  • Papaya

You can induce breeding with the following foods:

Induce Breeding

Around 2-3 months before the breeding season begins, feed your breeding sun conures a diet consisting of a high-quality, balanced pellet mix. This should last around 6-8 weeks and will thwart parrots’ breeding behavior.

After the eighth week, change their diet by providing fresh fruits and vegetables to get their hormones to work. In the morning, offer your parrots apples, grapes, carrots, corn, or streamed potatoes. Add a small handful of soaked seeds and pulses to prevent your parrots from getting bored with their food.

In the evening, serve the fruits and vegetables with a small amount of pasta and rice, and add some pellets to maintain their interest. Keep them on this diet until they nest, as any changes can disrupt the breeding process.

During Breeding

Once your parrots have nested, switch back to a healthy, balanced diet. You must offer a mix of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and calcium to ensure strong eggshells and chicks.

How To Get Sun Conures To Breed?

Sun conures are monogamous and mate for life, so you’ll need to find a pair that are comfortable around each other. You’ll also need a healthy male and female to breed successfully.

Select Your Parrots

When choosing your breeding parrots, ensure that they’re young and healthy.

Obtain captive-bred parrots. Wild parrots that have been taken for the pet trade will be too stressed and aggressive. Ensure that both sun conures are more than 2 years old.

Introduce the Parrots

Before encouraging the parrots to mate, you should separate them for a while first. Once you’ve got your breeding cage set up, put the female into the cage. Around 2-3 days later, introduce the male.

Monitor their behavior to see how they react to each other’s company. If they don’t seem to be getting along well, you’ll need to separate them and start again.

Check For Breeding Season Signs

When the weather gets warmer in the spring, check for signs that your sun conures are ready to mate. The male might dance for the female and fluff his feathers to make himself look bigger and more attractive.

If your parrots don’t seem themselves, it’s likely that they’re in the breeding phase and are preparing to mate. During this time, don’t disturb them too much so that their hormones and instincts can guide them.

Care for the Eggs

Once the female parrot lays her fertilized eggs, monitor both parrots to ensure that they care for the eggs.

Your parrots will likely want to care for them in the nesting box and incubate the eggs in there, but keep checking in on your sun conures from a distance to ensure there are no health or behavioral issues.

Some parrots break their eggs due to:

  • Fear
  • Stress
  • Inadequate nests
  • Lack of enrichment
  • Accidents

If your parrot rejects or abandons her eggs or is too unwell to care for them, you’ll need an incubator.

How To Tell When Sun Conures Are About To Lay Eggs

When your sun conure’s ready to lay her eggs, she’ll display several signs that can alert you, allowing you to make your parrot’s environment comfortable.

Your parrot’s breeding behavior will change during this phase, but she should return to herself once she lays her eggs.

Hormonal Behavior

One of the most noticeable changes is your sun conure will become hormonal, and its mood will change. Just before your sun conure lays her eggs, she’ll experience a surge in hormones, causing her to become:

  • Protective of her cage
  • Defensive of her toys and space
  • More likely to bite you
  • Prone to screaming
  • Temperamental and moodier

Don’t react negatively to these behaviors as your parrot is responding instinctively.

Walking Differently

As the egg forms and develops inside your parrot’s body, your sun conure will walk with stiffness or an awkward gait. While this might look worrying, it’s normal and should go away after she lays her eggs.

Weight Gain

Parrots gain weight as they go through a pregnancy. The eggs contribute to your parrot’s increased mass, but she may become hungrier and eat more.

Even if the egg doesn’t get fertilized, your parrot will look larger than she used to and her abdomen will be firmer.

Tail Twitching

When your sun conure’s close to laying eggs, you’ll notice that her tail twitches more than usual. This helps parrots pass the eggs safely.

Increased Thirst

Your sun conure will drink more water as her body works harder to lay the eggs. If she doesn’t have access to enough water, she’ll become dehydrated and lethargic. Your parrot will use more moisture to create the eggs, shells, and membranes. So, ensure that your parrots have enough water to drink.

Larger Droppings

When laying their eggs, parrots produce larger droppings. This can sometimes be the symptom of an illness or health condition, but it’s normal while your parrot’s in this sensitive state.

Most Common Sun Conure Breeding Problems

Understanding what can go wrong enables you to address any issues. Problems include:

Egg Binding

If the parrot doesn’t get enough calcium while breeding, she’s at risk of egg binding.

As described by VCA Hospitals, egg binding is where the female parrot cannot expel an egg from her body. If you detect the problem early enough, it can be treated; if it continues over a prolonged period, she’ll become ill.

The reasons for egg binding include:

  • Obesity (due to a high-fat diet or lack of exercise)
  • Old age
  • Hereditary factors
  • Improper laying environment
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Lack of vitamins D, E, and selenium

While the egg is being developed, ensure that your parrot gets enough calcium and vitamins. You may need to provide supplements and vitamins to make sure it has enough stored up.

Without them, your parrot’s muscles won’t contract properly. A calcium deficiency will cause the eggs to become too soft and will collapse as they come out.

sun conure breeding problems

Impacted Oviduct

An impacted oviduct is where the oviduct (the tube an ovum or egg passes through from an ovary) becomes impacted with excess mucus, albumen, and malformed or soft-shelled eggs. They adhere to the oviduct wall and become thickened.

According to MSD Veterinary Manual, signs include:

  • Depression
  • Anorexia
  • Distended abdomen
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Egg production will cease

Surgery is recommended, but it carries risks.

Mate Aggression

Aggression can range from them preventing the other parrot from eating and drinking to fighting. It doesn’t just happen to new breeding pairs but also sun conures that have been bonded for years.

In the wild, parrots can spend time away from each other when they go out to forage for food. Similarly, they’re able to separate once they’ve established that they’re not compatible instead of being stuck in a cage together.

Male sun conures are prone to aggression. If your male parrot becomes aggressive toward its mate, separate them for a while. Once he’s calmed down, put him in a separate cage next to the female’s cage and return him once he’s ready.

Stress

The breeding process can be demanding, causing your parrots to feel stressed. It depletes the female’s nutritional stores and leaves her vulnerable to malnutrition, osteoporosis, and life-threatening illnesses.

Signs of stress include:

  • Stress bars on the feathers
  • Feather loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Aggression
  • Changes in vocalization
  • Nervous or repetitive behavior

Provide a nutritious diet and put the cage in a secure spot against the wall.

Incompatible Parrots

Not all sun conures will get along with each other. If so, they won’t breed unless they have a change of partner.

Before attempting to breed your sun conures, find out the potential risks in advance. The most crucial things are your parrot’s living environment and diet, so provide them with everything they need to stay healthy.