The Red-masked Conure

25th June 2010

Distribution: The Red-masked Conure is native to the lowlands and the Pacific slope of western Ecuador and northwestern Peru, south to Lambayeque and Cajamarca.

Breeding populations of feral Red-masked Conure have been observed in Florida and California: San Diego County, Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley, Sunnyvale and San Francisco. The birds have been observed feeding on the fruits of the cultivated tropical vegetation and nesting in the ubiquitous palm trees. Escaped birds have also established themselves the Grand Cayman Island in the Greater Antilles and in Spain.

Status: The world population of wild Red-masked Conures is estimated to be around 10,000 individuals.
Meanwhile, more than 26,000 of these parakeets have been imported into the USA alone between 1981 and 1985, making it the tenth most common Neotropical parrot imported in thsi country. The Red-masked Conure is also threatened from the local wild bird trade in Peru and Ecuador, where mortality rates from poor handling and stress are high. In 1994, this parrot has been reclassified from a species of least concern to a species near threatened by the IUCN.


Habitat: the Red-masked Conure inhabits a variety of arid and humid areas: dry thorny scrub, forest edges, partially cleared areas, degraded and fragmented forests, deciduous forests, evergreen forests, mountain woodlands, and even farmed areas with scattered trees and the vicinity of cities. These birds can be found of altitudes of up to 2500m.

General habits: This is a social and active parrot, particularly outside the breeding season. It is commonky seen in groups of up to 12 birds with much larger flocks of around 200 at communal roosts. It may even forms mixed flocks with Grey-cheeked parakeets and Bronze-winged parrots.

Feeding habits: The Red-masked Conure feeds on fruits, flowers and seeds.

Breeding habits: The breeding season is between January and March.

Nest: The Red-masked Conure will nest in a variety of places - from cavities in mature trees to termite nests or even (though seldom) in a cliff.

Eggs: Clutches average 3 to 4 eggs measuring 31.0 x 25.5 mm. Incubation takes 23 or 24 days

Young: Juvenile birds fledge after 50 days. At that time they still have a predominently green plumage, with an all green head, no red markings, green thighs, a yellow/green carpal edge, with varying orange/red feathers, less extensive red on bend of wing and outer underwing coverts, a grey eye. The first red feathers only appear around the age of four months.

Call: The Red-masked Conure makes different calls: raspy and screechy when in flight or perched; louder, harsh, rasping and rapid-short two-note calls - the second note longer -; buzzing notes.

Description: With an average weight of 165-200g and an average length of 33cm, of which half is the tail, the Red-masked Conure id a medium-sized parrot

Both male and female are bright green with a mostly red head on which the elongated pale eye-ring is conspicuous; the nape is green. Also, the lesser and median underwing coverts are red, and there is some red on the neck, the thighs, and the leading edge of the wings. They have a bare buff white eye ring around a dull yellow eye with a grey inner ring.

Did you know: The Red-masked Conure is the bird most often referred to when describing the Cherry Headed Conure, however it is one of four conures that are sometimes called the Cherry-headed Conure. This group of red-headed conures includes the Wagner's Conure, the Mitred Conure, the Finsch's Conure, and of course the Red-masked Conure. This confusion usually happens because these conures can look very similar when they are juveniles. Though generally beyond six months they can be distinguished, it does takes several years for them to get their full colouration, and then they are much easier to identify. The Red-masked Conure is the smallest and is the most colourful of these four red-headed conures.

The Red-masked Conure is also called: Red-headed Conure, Cherry-headed conure, Red-masked parakeet [English]; DutchEcuador-aratinga [Dutch]; Guayaquilsittich [German]; Rødhovedet Aratinga [Danish]; Rødmaskeparakitt [Norwegian ]; Conure à tête rouge [French]; Conuro Testarossa [Italian]; Aratinga de Guayaquil [Spanish]; Konura Krasnolica [Polish]; Punapääaratti [Finnish]; Onagaakaboushiinko [Japanese]