It is important to construct the nestbox out of relatively solid timber or blockboard which is at least 2.5 cm (1in) thick. This will make it more resilient to the birds' beaks, and should also help to insulate the interior. It is for this reason that well-made nestboxes tend to be expensive to purchase, but they should prove durable. There will be little risk of eggs and chicks being lost through a hole, as can happen when thin plywood is used and rapidly destroyed by the adult birds.
An entrance point will need to be cut in the front of the box, corresponding to the size of the bird concerned. While circular holes are traditionally favored, they are certainly harder to cut than rectangular or square entrances, and have no inherent advantages. Firmly attach a wire-mesh ladder from near the base of the nestbox to the entrance hole. This should facilitate the entry and exit of the conures, lessening the risk of eggs being damaged. Should the mesh become loose, it could fall and block the access of the adult birds to their chicks beneath. Also, you must ensure that there are no loose ends where the conures could become caught within the box. On both sides, cut the edges of the wire back as close to the vertical strands as possible. Once the mesh is securely affixed with netting staples, tack battens over the exposed edges, so no loose edges are accessible to the conures.
An entry perch is usually featured in the design of most nestboxes, located just below the entrance hole. A piece of dowelling is recommended for this purpose, with a hole being drilled into the front to fix it in place. It should extend horizontally 5-7.5 cm (2-3 in) from the nestbox.
When constructing a nestbox yourself, affix the ladder and cut the necessary holes before assembling the various components. Again, screws are recommended for assembly purposes, so that the nestbox can be dismantled and cleaned thoroughly without difficulty. In addition, any damaged sections can be easily replaced.
It will be necessary to look inside the nestbox once it is in the aviary, so the roof unit should be hinged securely in place. Ensure that this extends for a short distance over the front of the nestbox, so that there is no risk of it falling downwards within the box itself. You may also want to incorporate a sliding door on one of the sides, this may be gnawed quite badly by some conures and may not be advantageous if you can see clearly from above.
Nestbox Sites in the Aviary
Another feature of considerable importance to the successful breeding of conures in aviary surroundings is the positioning of the nestbox. As a general rule, these birds prefer to nest in relatively dark and secluded surroundings, so that placing the box in the open flight is not recommended. Here of course, it will also be exposed to the elements, and both eggs and chicks are more likely to become chilled.
The nestbox can be placed in a dark corner of the flight close to the shelter, or alternatively, located within the shelter itself. Avoid attaching it opposite the window in the direct rays of the sun, as this will prove counterproductive. You may prefer to give the conures a choice of nesting sites, incorporating two nestboxes within their aviary. This can help to encourage breeding, especially with pairs which are reluctant to nest.
If you are attempting to breed more than one pair of conures in the same aviary, a choice of nestboxes will be essential, to reduce the risk of fighting. In addition, position the nestboxes at the same height, so pairs will not compete for the upper box, as is likely to occur.
Various materials can be used to line the floor of the nestbox; this is important since conures do not build any nest (in common with most other parrots). Inadequate floor covering can therefore cause damage to the eggs, preventing them from hatching. Never use hay as a nesting material, because this contains fungal spores which may infect the adult birds during the breeding period. A relatively sterile medium is recommended; for this reason many breeders use peat. It is provided damp, in the hope that this will assist the humidity within the nestbox, but in practice this aim is rarely achieved.
The peat usually dries out and becomes dusty even before the hen conure has begun to lay. It is common for the birds to scratch most of the peat out of the nestbox via the entrance hole. Ultimately, the hen is likely to produce a clutch of eggs almost on the bare wood at the bottom of the box. Here they may roll about and get damaged or chilled during the incubation period, so that relatively few, if any, chicks actually hatch.
In the wild, many species use tree holes, and lay their eggs on a bed of wood chips gnawed from the inside of the nesting hollow. This situation can easily be created in the confines of a nestbox by placing short lengths of thin wooden battening on the floor. Here, the conures will use their beaks to reduce the wood to chips, which form a soft and absorbent surface where the eggs can be laid and the chicks will be reared in fairly sanitary surroundings. There is no need to change the nesting material during the whole breeding period. Avoid rotten wood; although it will be quite friable, it will also contain molds and fungi. Studies in the field have shown that parrots can be badly affected by contaminated nesting material.
Attaching the Nestbox
Even a small nestbox will be quite heavy, because of the thickness of wood used in its construction. As a result, it must be firmly affixed in the aviary. Stout brackets are recommended, with an L-shaped bracket supporting the nestbox from beneath. Position the nestbox at a relatively high point, but remember that you will need to be able to see inside. In order to ensure that the nestbox can be opened without difficulty, its roof must not be too close to the ceiling of the aviary. If there is a side opening however, you can affix the nestbox with less worry.
Read More About Conures :
Common Types of Conures
How to Train Your Conure
How to Breed Conure Parrots
How to Deal with Common Diseases of Conures
How to Feed Your Pet Conures
Characteristics of Conures
How to Choose Your First Conure Wisely
Expert Tips on Housing Conures
Feeding Your Conures with a Balanced Diet