For over 10 years, the Goldcapped Conure, Aratinga auricapilla, has been my overwhelmingly favorite among all the yellow Aratinga trio of Sun, Jenday and Gold-capped Conures. Not only do they have a lower-pitched call than the first two, but when raised properly and well socialized into a family situation, they use it far less often.
Goldcaps are calmer, behaving more as a mini macaw (Noble and Hahn’s) in their daily activity. They have a larger, blockier body and head than the Sun or Jenday and are slightly more macaw-like in their perching, grooming and habits of keen observation. Yet few pet bird shops tend to regularly stock them.
A conure is a conure, I have heard it said, and the Suns and Jendays are definitely more colorful, hence saleable to clients. That may be true but, believe me, this conure is far from boring to look at. Its subtle shades of green, gold, orange and indigo literally shimmer in full daylight.
As babies, Goldcaps are just as playfully mischievous as Suns, snuggling under your sweater, rolling off the back of the couch, and lying upside down in the palm of your hand. As they grow past six months, however, it is not unusual for a pet Goldcap to settle into the home in a near perfect niche. They interact with people gladly when allowed out of their cage, and will befriend visitors who are patient and calm. They are seldom prone to extended bouts of frantic activity, chewing or screeching if cooped up too long (as can be the case with the more high-strung Sun and Jenday Conures). We have noticed that when the Gold-capped Conure is happy in a home, it is less likely to go through a radical change in personality when puberty arrives. Certainly it arrives later in this species than in its more yellow relatives. Sometimes no sexuality change is even noticed in a pet Goldcap until age four.
Care and feeding of a pet Goldcap is pretty much the same as for others in the conure family. When weaned onto rice, beans, cooked pulses and vegetables, fruits and sprouts, most conures become excellent eaters of a variety of nutritious foods. They are known to take seeds in the wild and we make a point of including these in our flock’s diet. Of course, the smaller millets, canary seed and Cockatiel mixes are less fatty than large hookbill mixes containing sunflower and safflower. But since conures normally do not have a strong tendency to become overweight, we offer both kinds on alternating weeks.
Our seed feeding percentage runs about 25% of the total diet, increasing to 33% when breeding pairs are feeding older (17 days or more) chicks. Conures also love corn on the cob, nuts and healthy people foods. We have taught our Goldcaps to open almonds by personally cracking off the tips and letting the birds see the nutmeat inside. The stronger-shelled nuts usually have to be cracked before feeding to the conures.
Cage size for a Gold-capped Conure pet should be a minimum of 24 x 24 x 30 inches, and this is for those pets being let out daily to exercise and interact with owners. Freedom inside the home is usually easy to monitor with this group of parrots. They are cautious, quick to learn, and are most comfortable high up on a perching spot rather than on the floor where they could be stepped upon. Even pets like to sleep in secure cardboard sleeping boxes, inside covered baskets or the “snuggle” tunnels marketed at bird supply shops.
Gold-capped Conures are avid chewers. They love fresh branches of safe plants, daisy and marigold buds, spider plants, destructible toys, wooden chopsticks, plastic bottle caps and more. Cloth and rope chewies can be a favorite.
When introduced to water, the kitchen sink, water bottle, backyard garden hose, or a shower with their owner, it does not matter to a Goldcap as long as it is WET! Keepers should be careful around pans of boiling water, if their pet Goldcap enters the kitchen. Conures have been known to dive into hot water in their enthusiasm to bathe.
Young birds can readily be taught to fly to their owner’s hand on command. We find the first four flight feathers cut on each wing is normally sufficient to limit their gaining altitude. Lighter, stronger flyers may need five of their primaries clipped. Remember, a severely clipped parrot is often in more danger than one that can fly six to 10 feet and land safely.