With its enchanting looks and smooth temperament, this is truly a pet bird.
This is one of the most popular birds in the world, because of its easy breeding in captivity, the gentle temperament, which makes it climb on the owners shoulders or sleep on his or her lap, as well as the beauty and great diversity of colors, shown in the 43 existing mutations.
It inhabits the African continent. The Cana species lives in the Island of Madagascar, and other surrounding islands. It was discovered in 1793, and brought to Europe around 1860, in its wild green color. Today, thanks to the breeders, it can be found in many colors, such as the orange, white, red and yellow face, and cinnamon, blue, malva, violet, harlequin (random spots), white, yellow, golden cherry, and several different tonalities of these colors.
It belongs to the group of the macaws, parrots, parakeets and cockatoos. There are 9 species: cana, taranta, pullaria, swinderian, roseicollis and the ones which have a white rim around the eyes, fischeri, personata, lilianae and nigrigenis. Among them, the most popular is the roseicullis, which breeds better in captivity, and has a wider variety of colors: 17. Originally green, its forehead and half of the chest are in shades of red. The fischeri, green with forehead and chest in reddish orange, is also really sought for. Its mutations, 10 in all, are relatively recent. Threatened by extinction, it can only be comercialized with a metal rim around leg. The pullaria is green, with forehead and chest in a deep red, with yellow borders, and gray (female) or black (male) under the wings. It is the most sensitive and hard to breed in captivity. The swinderian, with a deep green color, cannot be bred in captivity because its nourishment comes solely from eating a type of native fig. The cana is the smallest, with around 14cm and with only one mutation. The color of the wild male is green, with gray neck, head and craw, and the female is green with a shade of black on the head. The taranta, originally green with a mask, and red forehead (only the male), is the biggest: it can be as big as 17cm.
After mating, a couple hardly ever separates, sticking together until death. They are always seen in nature, flying in pairs, among others of the band. Affectionate, they "kiss" each other, and share food, placing it in their mate's beak. They usually eat on the ground: seeds, grains, corn and wild fruit. Very gentle, active, full of energy and curious, they make excellent pets, specially when fed in the hand since babies. When that happens, they learn to trust people, and have fun with them, climbing on people's shoulders or snuggling up on their laps. To get attention they whistle, answer when called by their name, and may learn a series of tricks. They love to play with little toys, and to perform acrobatic feats.
Feeding: Two bowls. One with a seed mix
(sunflower, millet, green millet, birdseed, oats, safflower, and rape) and the
other with Agapornis food mixed with a complement (sprouted wheat, raw green
corn, and green vegetables, except lettuce). During breeding , and for couples
with babies, feed them daily with an extra 1/4 of eggplant or a 3 to 4
centimeter piece of raw corn on the cob. To keep birds beak trim, give them
Housing: A big cage made of galvanized wire, 80x50x50 cm, for one couple. Up to three of these can be piled one over the other at 50cm from the floor. In aviaries, put only birds of the same color and species, however, even taking these precautions, they may fight. For 2 couples, use cages of 1x1x1m, and up to 4 couples can fit into a 2x1x2m cage. The cages should be where there is morning sun, no air draft, neither stuffy nor hot (this helps spreading of respiratory diseases, and kills babies inside the egg). Minimum of perches (in big cages, only 2) and with two different diameters: one slightly narrower than a broom stick, and the other 12,5mm. Bowls should be made of ceramics or dishware.
Breeding: A nest in a wood box, specifically made for the species, with a 5cm opening and a 4cm perch in front of it. In aviaries, put 50% more nests than couples. Take nest out of cage during 3 to 4 months, for resting. Bedding: several kinds of straw are serve this purpose well, even the straw used to pack fruit and dishes. The birds with a white rim around eyes prefer to chew pine wood. It's important to give them vermifuge before mating. They lay 3 to 7 eggs. Eggs hatch 22 to 24 days later. The Cana, Taranta and Pullaria have sexual dimorphism. To identify others, consult a breeder.
We would like to thank Paul Richard Wolfensbereger,
Agapornis breeder, for his assistance.
Research and text: Carmen Olivieri Text editor: Marcos Pennacchi
Picture: Fernando Torres de Andrade
Owner: Brazilian Ornamental Fishes