Natural Diet

Through separate interviews with Carlos Yamashita and Gil Serique I am finding evidence that suggests that the Golden Conure populations from one pocket to another may consume completely different primary food substances. In our current research area the most predominately eaten substance by Golden Conures is the seed of the Croton matouensis, which is in the castor bean family. This particular fruit is similar in size and appearance to a green blueberry, which contains 3 to 4 seeds. These seeds are commonly eaten by all of the larger parrots in the region. The outer fruit is tough and requires a strong beak, as that of the Golden Conure, to tear it open and get to the seeds. This species of tree is in abundance and is not one usually cut for its wood; therefore, food sources are not a real concern for this species in this particular area, other than the distances required to travel from tree to tree. Yamashita states that a flock of Golden Conures will stay at one tree until all of the fruit is gone, which on average takes about 3 days.

Golden Conures in Croton Tree
Croton Fruit

In Tapajós Gil Serique reports Golden Conures feeding on Muruci fruit (Byrsonima crispa), a berry-like fruit very much appreciated by humans as well. It is often used in ice cream, which doesn't seem to represent any competition for food since it is common to find Muruci trees growing in backyards.

Furthermore, Gil has observed Golden Conures feeding at Mango trees, which are widespread in Brazil. Açai (pronounced assai), an Indian name meaning “weeping tree” is also in their main diet list, and he describes them just like the Muruci, but it belongs to the palm genus Euterpe. This plant species has been heavily exploited for palm heart and for the last 10 years for its iron-rich fruit-pulp as well, which is heavily sold all over Brazil. Eating these palm hearts has become a fad over the last few years. It is quite exploited by the communities in the estuary area, and the seeds are commonly used as fertilizer in vegetables crops. Gil states that he would not be surprised if it comes to be proven that açai consumption by humans is directly affecting certain groups of Golden Conures, since they seem very dependent on it in certain areas. Undoubtedly the rain forest hosts many other fruiting trees visited by Golden Conures, which will be found as we get to know them better.

This suggests that they may be more adaptive to available food sources than some of the other highly endangered species such as the Lear's Macaws. The decline in the Lear’s population has been directly related to a decline in licuri palm trees (Gilardi 2). This adaptability may prove to be of great benefit and a vital aspect of their survival as a wild species.


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