The Sun Parakeet or Sun Conure (Aratinga solstitialis) is a medium-sized brightly coloured parrot native to northeastern South America. The adult male and female are similar in appearance, with predominantly golden-yellow plumage and orange-flushed underparts and face. It is commonly kept in aviculture. The species is endangered, threatened by loss of habitat and trapping for the pet trade.
On average, Sun Parakeets weigh approximately 110 grams (4 oz) and are around 30 centimetres (12 in) long. They are sexually monomorphic.
Adults have a rich yellow crown, nape, mantle, lesser wing-coverts, tips of the greater wing-coverts, chest, and underwing-coverts. The face and belly are orange. The base of the greater wing-coverts, tertials, and base of the primaries are green, while the secondaries, tips of the primaries, and most of the primary coverts are dark blue. The tail is olive-green with a blue tip. From below, all the flight feathers are dark greyish. The bill is black. The legs and the bare eye-ring are grey, but the latter often fades to white in captivity.
It is easily confused with the closely related Jenday Parakeet and Sulphur-breasted Parakeet, but the former has entirely green wing-coverts, mantle and vent, while the latter has green mottling to the mantle and less orange to the underparts. The Sun Parakeet is also superficially similar to the pale-billed Golden Parakeet.
Juvenile Sun Parakeets display a predominantly green plumage and resemble similar-aged Sulphur-breasted Parakeets. The distinctive yellow, orange, and reddish colouration on the back, abdomen, and head is attained with maturity
Its exact ecological requirements are not well known. It is widely reported as occurring in savannah and coastal forests, but recent sightings suggest it mainly occurs at the edge of humid forest growing in foothills in the Guiana Shield, and crosses more open habitats only when traveling between patches of forest.
Like other members of the genus Aratinga, the Sun Parakeet is social and typically occurs in groups of up to 30 individuals. It has been reported as nesting in palm cavities. It mainly feeds on fruits, flowers, berries, nuts, and the like. Otherwise, relatively little is known about its behaviour in the wild, in part due to confusion over what information refers to the Sun Parakeet and what refers to the Sulphur-breasted Parakeet. Regardless, the behavior of the two is unlikely to differ to any great extent.
The Sun Parakeet occurs only in a relatively small region of north-eastern South America: the North Brazilian state of Roraima, southern Guyana, extreme southern Suriname, and southern French Guiana. It also occurs as a vagrant to coastal French Guiana. Its status in Venezuela is unclear, but there are recent sightings from the south-east near Santa Elena de Uairén.
It may occur in Amapá or far northern Pará (regions where the avifauna generally is very poorly documented), but this remains to be confirmed. Populations found along the Amazon River in Brazil are now known to belong to the Sulphur-breasted Parakeet.
In the past, the Sun Parakeet has been considered safe and listed as Least Concern, but recent surveys in southern Guyana (where previously considered common) and the Brazilian state Roraima have revealed that it possibly is extirpated from the former and rare in the latter. It is very rare in French Guiana, but may breed in the southern part of the country (this remains unconfirmed).
Today the species is regularly bred in captivity, but the capture of wild individuals potentially remains a very serious threat. This has fueled recent discussions regarding its status, leading to it being uplisted to Endangered in the 2008 IUCN Red List.
There are a number of threats to the Sun Parakeet that make this species endangered. One of the threats is deforestation which has declined its numbers. Other threats include hunting for feathers, poaching, and capture for sale as pets. The term conure readily identifies the bird as one of the species of small- to medium-sized parrots with a long tail of the tribe Arini, that are mainly endemic to South America. They reach sexual maturity at around two years of age, and can live for 25 to 30 years. The hen lays a clutch of four to five eggs, with an incubation period of 23 days.
The Sun Parakeet is noted for its very loud squawking compared to its relatively small size. It is capable of mimicking humans, but not as well as some larger parrots. Sun Parakeets are popular as pets because of their bright coloration though they have a very limited ability to talk.
Due to their inquisitive temperaments, they demand a great deal of attention from their owners, and can sometimes be loud. Like many parrots, they are determined chewers and require toys and treats to chew on. Hand reared pets can be very friendly towards humans that they are familiar with, but they may be aggressive towards strangers.
(Source: Wikipedia – The Free Online Encyclopedia)
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