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Conures

Conures in Brief

Scientific Name: Many different species available
Adult Size: 8 to 18 inches (20 to 46 cm)
Weight: 2 to 11 ounces (57 to 310 g)
Life Span: 25 years or more
Talking Ability: Varies by species
Conures are small to mid-sized parrots who are commonly kept as pets. They have a number of attributes that have won the hearts of many birdkeepers: a playful, clownish nature; the ability to learn tricks; beautiful colors; and an affectionate personality. Let's learn a little more about conures to help you decide if this bird is right for you. If you already live with one, I'm sure that you will learn something new.

Appearance

There are at least 40 species of conures, a fact that makes it difficult to describe a "typical" conure. Most species are predominantly green in color, with splashes of other colors elsewhere on the body—typically the wings and tail. The area around a conure's eyes lacks feathers and is called the "eye ring." Most conures have long, tapering tails.

Family Tree

Like all parrots and parakeets, conures are part of the large group (technically known as an order) of birds called Psittaciformes, and parrots are sometimes called psittacines [pronounced SIT a seens]. Parrots are also called hookbills, for their strongly hooked bills that they use for climbing, digging, cracking open seeds, and preening their feathers.

There are several closely related groups called genera (the singular is genus) that comprise the conures. The two genera that most pet conures belong to are the Aratinga and the Pyrrhura. Pyrrhura conures tend to be smaller with quieter voices when compared to the Aratinga conures.

In the Wild

Conures are found throughout Central and South America. They live in many different habitats, from rainforests to savannahs to semi-desert areas. All conures live in flocks that can range from just a few to a few hundred individuals, depending on the species and habitat conditions. Conures sometimes flock with other species of parrots, including other conures, parakeets, and Amazon parrots. They eat a wide range of foods in the wild, including leaves, fruits, nuts, twigs, seeds, and the occasional insect or small animal.

Common Species

At least 20 species of conures are available as pets. Here we'll talk about a few of the most commonly kept.

Green-Cheeked Conure
The green-cheeked conure (Pyrrhura molinae) is about 10 inches (25 cm) in length. He has a green body with a gray head and neck. His cheeks are green and his wings are green and blue. He is usually a quieter parrot and typically does not learn to talk. However, a green-cheeked conure is usually very playful and energetic.

Nanday Conure
This species (Nandayus nenday) is mostly green with a distinctive black head. The feathered parts of his legs are red, as if he is wearing leg warmers. He can be a loud bird and is often a good talker. Nandays are about 12 inches (31 cm) long.

Jandaya Conure
The jandaya conure (Aratinga jandaya) is also called the janday conure and the jenday conure. He is about 12 inches (31 cm) in length. His head and neck are yellow-orange, and his body is red. Jandayas are playful and fun but also very loud. They need plenty of toys on which to chew. Sun Conure
The sun conure (Aratinga solstitialis) is an especially beautiful parrot. He is almost entirely yellow, with a greenish-blue tail and flight feathers. His abdomen and the area around his eyes are orange. The sun conure has a slight talking ability and a love of playing and chewing. He is about 12 inches (31 cm) long.

Conures as Pets

A conure can make a wonderful pet for the right household. However, he is often a loud bird with a demanding personality. Properly preparing for your conure will help both of you live many happy years together.

Conures need large, sturdy cages, preferably made of wrought iron or powder-coated steel. Make sure that the bars of the cage are spaced so that your bird cannot stick his head out between them—about 1/2 inch (1 cm) is fine for most species. He also needs perches in a variety of sizes and materials to keep his feet healthy. Provide numerous toys to keep him mentally stimulated when you aren't around; rotate them regularly so that he doesn't get bored. You will also need to spend more than an hour each day petting, grooming, training, and interacting with your conure.

Your conure will need fresh food—a variety of fruits, vegetables, cooked grains and beans, and healthy human food—two times a day. He should have pellets available all day. Provide a small amount of seeds and nuts once a day. Fresh, clean water must be available at all times. Like other parrots, conures can be messy eaters, so be prepared to clean the water bowl, cage, and surrounding area regularly.