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, impacted oviduct, mating aggression, and stress.

To breed sun conures, you must find a compatible pair. Sun conures become sexually mature at two years old. Introduce the birds gradually so that they don’t become aggressive towards one another. Make sure the cage is large enough for them to breed and provide a nesting box. The parrots will need out-of-cage time to fly around.

Bear in mind that not all attempts to breed will succeed, but by doing everything you can to create the right environment, you’re more likely to find fertilized eggs at the end of the breeding period. 

Are Sun Conures Easy To Breed?

Sun conures are prolific breeders. They’re easy to breed in captivity by experienced owners who know how to encourage parrots to do so. Parrots need optimum conditions to procreate successfully.

Your breeding sun conure pair must be able to stretch their wings and take flight while fertilizing the eggs. It’s unlikely a cage will be big enough to allow this, so you must let your parrots out for several hours of the day so that they can 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 parrots earlier than this, it’ll be far too young. Keep any birds 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
  • Affection towards owners
  • Hiding in the nesting box
  • Backing her vent against the cage bars

If you notice any of these behaviors, your parrot’s calling out for a partner 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 occur during the start of spring, most commonly around February. As the weather gets warmer, the food supply increases, making it the ideal time for parrots to breed and raise their young.

The breeding season and the behaviors associated with it typically last for 1-2 weeks, so it’s only a short period of time.

How Many Times A Year Do Sun Conures Lay Eggs?

Healthy sun conures produce at least two 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 birds can experience malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies. To prevent this:

  • Ensure your bird eats a healthy diet and add calcium supplements to its diet if you suspect it’s not getting enough.
  • Minimize your parrot’s exposure to sunlight, which may discourage your parrot from laying eggs.
  • Move the cage to a different area of the house.
  • Minimize your handling of the bird and refrain from stroking or petting it until the egg-laying behavior decreases.
  • Stop removing eggs as they’re laid and allow the parrot to sit on them for a duration of a standard hatch.

Hopefully, these things will discourage your parrot from laying eggs and will help control its behavior.

How Long Does It Take Sun Conures To Lay Eggs?

It takes most sun conures 1-3 days to lay their eggs when they’re ready to come out. According to Zoo Biology, the more comfortable and enriched a parrot feels in its environment, the more likely it is to lay eggs. The egg-laying process will be quicker if you provide your parrot with:

The egg should emerge pointy-end first when it’s ready to come out. If not, then you must take your parrot to the vet for assistance. The mother will lay and sit on fertilized eggs until they hatch. She’ll ignore them if they’re unfertilized. She might sit on them for 1-2 days first before abandoning them once she realizes they’re not going to hatch.

How Many Babies Do Sun Conures Have?

As mentioned, sun conures produce at least two 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 roughly after a 23-27 day incubation period, during which time the female parrots incubate them by sitting on them.

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

What Equipment Do You Need To Breed Sun Conures?

Breeding sun conures need specialized pieces of 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. Make sure the bars are spaced between 1/2 to 3/4 inches apart to prevent your parrots 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 make sure she’s okay. The pair will need time to adjust to their surroundings, and many breeding parrots appreciate being separated into their own 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 and contributes towards a successful breeding incubation and rearing program.

Incubator

Even though the mother will incubate her eggs, having an incubator on hand is a wise idea in case something goes wrong or the parrot becomes sick. Incubators mimic the natural process, providing heat and dispersing it evenly by rotating.

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

Brooder

You only really 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 them with the heat and humidity they need until they can regulate their own temperature.

Specialized Diet

Female sun conures require a balanced diet containing all the nutrients she needs to produce strong eggshells and healthy babies. Breeding parrots need higher levels of calcium and protein than usual to stay healthy.

In particular, many parrots are deficient in calcium, particularly 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 to keep their levels topped up. A cuttlebone is a good source of calcium, as are:

  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Bamboo
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi

Wild parrots consume insects and spiders to increase their protein intake. In captivity, you could offer your parrot cooked eggs and biscuit mix. They also get a lot of protein from seeds, nuts, and some fruits and vegetables.

Their diet also differs depending on what stage of the breeding process they’re in. You can induce breeding with the following foods:

Induce Breeding

In November, 2-3 months before the breeding season begins, feed your breeding parrots a diet solely consisting of a high-quality, balanced seed 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 encourage 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 your birds’ 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 that contains all the nutrients they need. You must offer a mix of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and calcium that will ensure strong eggshells and chicks.

How To Get Sun Conures To Breed?

Before you encourage your sun conures to breed, it’s important to understand that they’re 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 parrot to breed successful eggshells, so choosing a suitable mate for your parrot is a big decision.

Select Your Parrots

When choosing your breeding parrots, make sure 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. Make sure both sun conures are over two years old, which is the right age for breeding.

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. Then, around 2-3 days later, introduce the male into the cage.

It’s rare for sun conures to reject each other, but you should watch their behavior to see how they react within each other’s presence. If they don’t seem to be getting on, you’ll need to separate them and try again.

Check For Breeding Season Signs

In spring, when the weather starts to get warmer, watch for any signs that your parrots are ready to mate. The male will do a special 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 they’re in the breeding phase and are getting ready to mate. During this time, try not to disturb them too much so that their hormones and instincts can guide them.

As mentioned, the mating phase is only 1-2 weeks long, so there’s only a short window to play with. Once the season’s over, you’ll have to wait another year for your parrots to mate. It’s not something that happens regularly.

Care for the Egg

Once the female parrot lays her fertilized eggs, you’ll need to closely monitor both parrots to ensure they care for the eggs properly. Your parrots will likely want to care for them in the nesting box and incubate them in there, but keep checking in on your parrots from a distance to ensure there are no healthy or behavioral issues at play. Some parrots break their eggs because of:

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

Looking out for any of these signs can help you prevent this before it happens. Similarly, if your parrot rejects or abandons the eggs, which is rare, or is too unwell to care for them, you’ll need to move them into the incubator to keep them alive. It gets more complicated from this point, as you’ll need to prepare yourself to look after the chicks as soon as they hatch.

How To Tell When Sun Conures Are About To Lay Eggs

When your sun conure’s ready to lay eggs, it’ll display several tell-tale signs that can alert you, allowing you to make your parrot’s environment as comfortable as possible. Your parrot breeding behavior will change during this phase, but it should return to its usual self as soon as it lays its eggs. Look out for these signs:

Hormonal Behavior

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

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

Try not to react negatively to these behaviors, as your parrot is simply responding instinctively.

Walking Differently

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

Weight Gain

Like most creatures, parrots gain weight as they go through a pregnancy. The egg itself contributes to your parrot’s increased mass, but it may become hungrier and eat more. Even if the egg doesn’t get fertilized, your parrot will look larger than it used to, and its abdomen will be firmer.

Tail Twitching

When your parrot’s close to laying an egg, you’ll notice that its tail twitches more often than usual. This helps birds pass the eggs safely through their system.

Increased Thirst

Your sun conure will drink more water as its body works overtime to lay the egg. If it doesn’t have access to enough water, it’ll become dehydrated and lethargic. Your parrot also uses more moisture to create the egg, shell, and membrane and won’t be able to survive more than a day without enough of it.

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 usually completely normal while your parrot’s in this sensitive period of its life.

sun conure breeding problems

Most Common Sun Conure Breeding Problems

Sadly, there are some risks associated with breeding. Many occur each season, but others are rarer. Understanding what could go wrong is a good idea so that you can address the problems as they arise. These are some of them:

Egg Binding

If the parrot doesn’t get enough calcium while breeding, it’s at risk of egg binding. As described by VCA Hospitals, egg binding is where the female parrot’s unable to 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, from 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, make sure your parrot gets enough calcium and vitamins. You may even 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.

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 also grinds to a halt. Surgery is recommended as the best course of treatment, but it comes with significant risk.

Mate Aggression

One of the most frustrating aspects of breeding is that parrots can become aggressive towards each other. This can range from them preventing the other parrot from eating and drinking to physically fighting and killing them. It doesn’t only happen to new breeding pairs, but also parrots that have been bonded for years.

One possible reason is that in the wild, parrots can spend time away from each other when one goes 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.

Male sun conures are especially prone to aggression. If your male parrot starts becoming aggressive towards its mate, separate it out of the cage for a while. Once he’s calmed down, put him in a separate cage next to the female’s and then put him back in once he’s ready.

Stress

The breeding process can be demanding, making your parrots stressed. It depletes the female’s nutritional stores and leaves her vulnerable to malnutrition, osteoporosis, and life-threatening illnesses. Provide the comfiest environment possible and a healthy diet to keep both parrots happy, healthy, and relaxed. Signs of stress include:

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

There are several things you can do to make your bird feel comfortable. Provide a nutritious diet and put the cage in a secure spot against the wall so that your parrots feel safe and secure.

Incompatible Parrots

One of the biggest reasons for breeding failure is incompatibility. Many sun conures only tolerate their companion, but that’s not enough to encourage them to breed. In fact, they won’t breed unless they have a change of partner, which can be time-consuming, costly, and stressful for all parties involved.

Before attempting to breed your sun conures, research all the risks involved first so that you’re fully prepared. It’s also a good idea to seek expert advice. Two of the most crucial things in your parrot’s environment and its diet, so make sure you provide your birds with everything they need.