Howdy! Learn a little about the stars of this blog: Stewie and Mika.
Stewie, aka “Stu-monster”, is a male sun conure (latin name: Aratinga solstitialis), which is a medium-sized parrot native to the northeastern coastal forests of South America. Stewie was adopted from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Virginia, in July 2007.
Sun conures are sexually monomorphic, but can be sexed via DNA tests. Stewie was sexed as a male by our avian vet, which cost $50. I’ve seen services advertised on the Web where you can send away for a kit and have it done for half that. Based on his coloring, he was at least a year or two old when I got him, but sun conures live an average of 25-30 years.
I started clicker training in the fall of 2007 in order to build a better relationship and because I was having trouble taming him. We didn’t even try to work on “step up” because he was still biting me, so we just started on targeting and then on to a couple of prop-based tricks. Because of the trust-building nature of positive reinforcement training, he soon stopped biting and even became affectionate. I now feel perfectly comfortable having him sit on my shoulder preening my face because we’ve built a lot of trust and I can read his moods.
I first let his flight feathers grow out in early 2008 after we built a strong relationship in order to allow him a little more autonomy and exercise.
He can still be a little bit of a brat, but his personality is one of the things I find so charming about him. He was not tame when I brought him home, but after several months of clicker training, we’ve come a long, long way. Check out the sun conure FAQs page and the various posts I’ve done about Stewie to learn more about what life with a sun conure is like.
Bonus: Stewie’s music video
Mika, aka “Sparkle Butt”, is a two-year old female White Capped Pionus, a medium-sized parrot, also known as a White Crowned Pionus or White Crowned Parrot. This species is native to the mountains of eastern Mexico to western Panama.
She joined me and Stewie in June of 2008 when I was looking to find Stewie a friend to keep him company during the day. I rehomed her from a woman who was no longer able to keep Mika due to her travel schedule.
Mika came to me already quite tame. She does not fly, and is quite a bit clumsier than Stewie – a fact no doubt due to her larger size and stockier build. Pionus parrots of her type generally weigh around 200 grams.
Pionus parrots are generally known for having very sweet dispositions and she’s no exception. Pionus are also known for being relatively less noisy than a lot of other parrot types. While Mika certainly doesn’t have a sun conure’s shriek, Stewie is doing his best to teach her his bad habits.
We’re working on improving her diet (to include more pellets, fruits and vegetables, and fewer seeds), and will soon start clicker training so she can have lots of trick training videos on YouTube too. (Any delay in training has nothing to do with her aptitude and everything to do with my lack of initiative.)
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