My First Pyrrhura Conure
Pyrrhura picta picta

"SKEETER"

CLAUDIA SLONE
Fountain Hills, Arizona

I love birds.  I did a lot of research before buying my first bird, “Kiwi”, a Yellow Naped Amazon.  I decided I wanted a second bird and began looking at the Aratinga Conures, in particular the Sun Conures.  I had seen a few at bird shows and was intrigued by their personalities and their beautiful bright color.  The more I read and investigated, the more I learned about Pyrrhura Conures.  Cruising through the internet, I came across the Pyrrhura Breeders Association, and decided to join with the intent to continue to research my second bird.  One day when I was in a pet shop, I made fast friends with a Black Capped Conure who begged to have his head scratched.  He had the most beautiful, distinct feathers, and such a sweet personality.  That sort of made up my mind.  By the time I got around to approaching my husband about the potential new addition, the  Black Capped Conure was gone.

I went back to the PBA website and began searching through the photos and descriptions of the various species, and landed on the Painted Conures.  I decided that was what I wanted.

This next part is not clear to me.  I recall perusing the PBA classifieds, and sending an e-mail about a year ago to inquire about Painted Conure breeders in Arizona.   I received a reply from Judi Robben, who said she had a clutch of three babies hatched on February 26, 2001  she was hand raising and getting ready to sell.  She thought she had one promised, but two were still available.  Through e-mails back and forth, we established that I was interested in a pet, and not interested in becoming a breeder.  Judi picked out a male, and last May the little guy flew all by himself on a plane from Kansas to Arizona.

I remember the first time I saw “Skeeter”.  I went to a special cargo portion of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, and one of the security people walked me over to an elevator which he unlocked.  The doors opened, and there on the floor of this huge elevator was a small blue pet carrier with this tiny bird clinging to the front of the cage.  I picked up the carrier, the guard and I matched up the tickets, and my new best friend and I were on our way.

At home, I put the  carrier down and my little painted friend was munching away on the bits of orange and apple and sprouts that had traveled with him on the plane.  He was totally calm and not at all bothered by his ordeal.  I took him out, put him on the dining room table, and he and I began getting acquainted. 

That was eight months ago.  Since that time,  Skeeter has learned to say his name when he wants attention.  He loves to sit with my husband and preen his mustache.  When you walk by his cage, he makes “kissing” noises.  He is very social, and loves attention.  Sometimes at night when we are sitting watching television, Skeeter will sit on my shoulder and hide under my hair.  He is not afraid of the dog or the cats, and would like to get to know the Amazon, although Kiwi has other ideas.  Kiwi still looks at Skeeter like he is a snack, so I never take my eyes off them if they are both out of the cage. 

When Judi shipped Skeeter here, she told me she had to trim his flight feathers because he kept trying to fly.  No kidding!  His flight feathers have grown back and he will stay with me only if my husband is out of the room.  The minute my husband returns, off he goes buzzing his way over to Norm.  It is comical to watch him hover like a small helicopter.  In the beginning he had some difficulty with landings, but his control has gotten much better.  I’m going to have to get his flight feathers trimmed again for his own safety, although I almost hate to do it because he enjoys flying so much, and because I hate to see those beautiful blue feathers cut off. 

During the holidays, Skeeter took  off and flew toward the person in my husband’s favorite chair who happened to be my brother, instead.  I’m not certain who was more surprised, but they both enjoyed the encounter.  Prior to that, my brother wasn’t certain he liked birds.  Skeeter converted him. 

When he first arrived, Skeeter spent a lot of time trying to remove the band from his leg.  He eventually gave up.  Now he just tries to take the wedding rings off myself and my husband. I guess he thinks none of us should be “banded!”

My favorite time of day is bath time.  I have heard people mention that if Amazons weren’t parrots, they’d be ducks.  Kiwi could care less if he ever gets a bath, and generally acts annoyed when I put him in the shower or spray him with a spray bottle.  Skeeter, on the other hand, is the cleanest creature I have ever met.  Between 2 and 3 PM every day, Skeeter goes over to his water bowl and backs his tail feathers and the lower half of his body into the bowl.  Then he hops over to his rope covered spiral perch and does somersaults while flapping his wings wildly.  Then, back to the bowl, and back to the perch.  Meanwhile, water is flying everywhere, and his next door neighbor the Amazon moves as far away as possible.  Sometimes, Skeeter even hangs upside down and sticks his head into the bowl.  He cracks me up when he does this.  And all the while he is having the time of his life.  It’s more like play time than bath time.

Skeeter has bells and other toys and multiple perches hanging in his cage.  The bells are his favorites, but he likes to climb around from perch to perch.  He also has a “Snuggle Buddy” that he hides behind to sleep. 

This is my first Conure, and first Pyrrhura Conure at that.  I don’t know if the rest of the species are similar in personality, but if they are I would highly recommend them as pets.  These little guys pack a lot of “big bird”  into a small sized body, they are not messy (other than the bath time water, which evaporates quickly) and would be great for kids and older people.   My experience with Skeeter has made me consider getting another some day.  These are truly amazing “little” birds!
 
Claudia Slone, Arizona

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