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The Cactus Conure – Little Known Parrot of Brazil’s Arid Scrublands

Zebra Tailed LizardParrots are an amazingly diverse group of birds, and today I’d like to highlight one which is given little attention by hobbyists or zoos – the unique Cactus Conure or Caatinga Parakeet (Aratinga cactorum).  Unlike the rainforest denizens that usually spring to mind when mention is made of Brazil’s parrots, this enterprising bird makes it’s living in a unique cactus-studded habitat known as the Caatinga Scrub (please see photo).


Cactus Conures average 10-11 inches in length, and sport green plumage above and a rusty-orange breast.  The head, face and throat areas are brown, shading gradually to olive.  Two subspecies have been described, neither of which has been well-studied. Read More »

Useful Tips and Products for Feeding Wild Birds this Autumn

Birds at FeederAutumn is a time of great anticipation for those who feed and watch birds, and surprising sightings are not limited to remote locales – a Snowy Owl once spent a few hours on the roof of my childhood home in the Bronx, and I’ve counted over 200 species on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo.  Resident birds begin to feed ravenously in preparation for the lean times ahead, and different northern migrants appear each week.  Today I’d like to highlight some foods and feeders that will help ensure that you see all there is to be seen in the coming months. Read More »

The Red-Vented Bulbul – an Ideal Softbill or Non-Typical Cage Bird

Red-vented BulbulI first kept Red-Vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus cafer) as “filler birds” to take up space in a huge, planted aviary I maintained at the Bronx Zoo.  However, their confident, inquisitive natures soon led to their being among the exhibit’s most popular inhabitants with visitors.  I find them to be among the most easily-kept of the softbills (a term applied to a loose collection of “non-typical” cage birds such as Bulbuls, Pekin Robins and others), and a great species with which to start when seeking to add variety to one’s collection.

Description and Range

Red-Vented Bulbuls inhabit a huge range that extends from India east to Vietnam and south to Java; they have also been introduced to Hawaii and many other places.  They inhabit open woodlands, scrub, farms, villages and cities, pairing off while breeding but otherwise going about in small groups. Read More »

The Rosellas – Australia’s Brilliantly Colored Long-Tailed Parakeets

Western RosellaAmong the parrots we find some of the world’s most flamboyantly colored birds – none more so than the spectacular Rosellas. Also known as Long-Tailed Parakeets, most Rosellas sport plumage that is difficult to describe in words – their “screaming” colors must be seen.  Today we’ll take a look at a few popular species – the Eastern, Western, Northern and Crimson Rosellas. Read More »

The Care and Breeding of the Golden Sparrow

Golden Sparrow flockOne glance at a male Golden Sparrow (Passer/Auripasser luteus) will quickly dispel the common notion that all sparrows are drab, uninteresting creatures.  Also known as the Yellow Sparrow, Sudan Golden Sparrow and Golden Song Sparrow, the bright yellow-gold plumage of some males, offset by chestnut-colored wings, outshines that of the better-known Canary.  Read More »

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