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sun conure breeding guide

How To Breed Sun Conures?

(Last Updated On: July 12, 2023)

If you have experience with exotic birds, you may be granted a license to breed sun conures (Aratinga solstitialis). This species is endangered, so attempts to increase the population will be welcomed.

Sun conures are frequent breeders. If you provide the right conditions in captivity, two bonded, opposite-sex birds will likely court late in the year and mate in the breeding season (March/April).

Most sun conures reach sexual maturity before they reach 24 months old. Females (hens) usually mature before males and remain fertile for up to 10 years.

Hormonal activity will be triggered by increased light exposure and warmer temperatures. This instructs birds’ bodies that spring is near, where food and water will be plentiful.

If conures show interest in mating, provide the right living conditions and a diet high in protein, calcium, and fat. Also, add a nesting box and warm material for nest insulation.

Are Sun Conures Easy To Breed?

Sun conures are prolific breeders in the wild, which can be replicated in captivity. If you combine male and female sun conures in conditions with ample light, warmth, and food, mating is very likely.

Pairing Sun Conures for Mating

To pair sun conures for mating, the pairing must be compatible.

The first step is ensuring the parrots are the opposite sex. This is difficult by sight because sun conures are monomorphic (no clear physical difference between males and females).

A conure bought from a breeder should have an ankle tag with key characteristics like age and gender.

If not, you’ll need a DNA test to determine if you have a male or female sun conure. This involves submitting a feather or blood sample from each conure and awaiting the results.

Just because sun conures are of the opposite sex doesn’t guarantee they’ll breed. You must introduce the two birds to each other properly and await courtship-related behaviors.

Do Sun Conures Mate for Life?

Once you successfully pair opposite-sex sun conures in captivity, they’ll likely mate for life.

Monogamous relationships are more likely in captivity due to a lack of alternative birds. Even in the wild, pairings remain loyal to each other for the entire breeding season to bring up their young.

You can usually rely on the same bonded pair to produce 1-2 clutches of eggs per year.

Captive sun conures live for 20-30 years. If one bird dies, you can eventually introduce a new mate if the female remains fertile. Fertility usually ends once a sun conure reaches 10 years of age.

sun conure breeding problems

When Do Sun Conures Breed?

Wild sun conures enter the breeding season in spring. When the days are longer, and the weather gets warmer, sun conures undergo hormonal changes that trigger a desire to mate.

These restrictions don’t necessarily bind captive sun conures, as they could breed if the environment encourages such behavior. For example, elevated amounts of artificial lighting and heating.

Signs sun conures are experiencing mating hormones include:

  • Nippiness and irritability.
  • Increased verbalization.
  • Eye pinning (flashing).
  • Wing flapping.
  • Tail fanning.
  • Female is increasingly territorial.
  • Higher appetite than usual.
  • Rubbing the vent on toys, items, and owners.
  • Destructive behavior, like feather plucking.

Even without the presence of a male, she’ll lay unfertilized eggs that don’t hatch.

What Age Do Sun Conures Breed?

Most sun conures reach sexual maturity between 12 and 24 months, although some take longer and may not display hormonal behaviors before they reach 3 years of age.

Female sun conures are likely to show interest in mating earlier than males.

If a sun conure still has olive green feathers, be wary of breeding because a bird may still be too young to safely produce and lay eggs. A mature sun conure will have more golden feathers.

How Long Do Sun Conures Breed?

Sun conures aren’t fertile for life, with females ceasing reproduction before they’re 10 years old. A sun conure may continue to lay eggs beyond this point, but they won’t hatch.

How Often Will Sun Conures Breed?

Sun conures can breed 1-3 times per year, but restricting this to twice every 12 months is advised.

Egg production takes a heavy toll on a female conure’s body. A sun conure puts enormous effort and nutritional resources into producing and laying eggs, regardless of whether they’re fertilized.

Preparing Sun Conures for Breeding

If sun conures are ready to mate, prepare for this process by doing the following:


Sun conures need a familiar, comforting, and resource-rich environment to reproduce successfully.

To encourage conures to breed, follow these steps:

  • Ensure the temperature is no lower than 65OF and no higher than 80OF.
  • Provide more light exposure (photoperiod) than normal (real or artificial).
  • Ensure the cage is kept clean and parasite-free.
  • Give the sun conures space and privacy.
  • Avoid exposure to stress, like loud noises and other pets.

The more comfortable sun conures feel in their environment, the likelier they are to breed.


Diet is critical to healthy egg production in birds. What do you feed breeding sun conures? Protein, fat, vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium are essential.

Breeding sun conures must be given ample food resources. Provide a cuttlefish bone for both conures to eat as an additional calcium source, and offer a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.

Supplementation may also enhance reproductive health in sun conures.


Sun conures are usually happy to breed in their normal cage, assuming it’s at least 24″ x 24″ x 24″. If you have a larger cage, the extra space will be appreciated.

If you usually keep more than two conures in the same cage, temporarily rehome them. Any additional birds may be considered a threat or territorial rivals, resulting in conflict.

Nesting Box

Wild sun conures nest in tree cavities, logs, insect mounds, and rock crevices.

A wooden nesting box for sun conures should be made available. Also, soft materials (like shredded paper) should be available nearby so the hen can line and insulate her nest.


Getting an incubator for the clutch of eggs isn’t usually necessary. However, sometimes the hen is inexperienced and doesn’t understand her parental responsibilities.

An incubator will keep the eggs at the right temperature, increasing their likelihood of hatching.

How Do Sun Conures Mate?

Breeding between sun conures begins with a courtship ritual instigated by the male.

The male conure will preen, dance, and likely replicate the song of a hen. Current Opinion in Neurobiology explains how complex vocalizations are key to partner selection.

The hen will decide if the male will be a suitable mate. If the male shares food with the hen by regurgitating food directly into her beak, they’ll likely mate and reproduce.

Male conures don’t have a penis. A male that wishes to breed will mount a female from behind, often pinning the hen’s wings to the ground.

From here, the two conures will press their cloacas together. The cloaca is the orifice from which birds expel urine and feces and lay eggs. If breeding hormones are active, the cloacas will be swollen.

When the conures rub their cloacas together, sperm are released from the male and enter the hen’s oviduct. If both conures are fertile, the hen will become gravid.

The mating process rarely lasts longer than 1-2 minutes.   

What Happens After Sun Conures Mate?

The relationship between sun conures will cool off immediately after breeding.

The hen will likely be less affectionate toward the male, potentially becoming hostile toward you. She may be resistant to handling after mating, lunging when you approach.

How Many Eggs Do Sun Conures Lay?

The average clutch size for a sun conure is 2-4 eggs. However, the hen won’t lay all of her eggs at once. Usually, one egg will be released approximately every 24 hours.

If a sun conure displays behaviors associated with egg laying, but nothing happens, seek veterinary advice, especially if she’s straining, struggling to walk, or displaying signs of pain.

These behaviors are warning signs of egg-binding (dystocia).

How Long Do Sun Conure Eggs Take to Hatch?

Sun conure eggs will usually hatch about 21-28 days after laying. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that every egg a sun conure lays will hatch into a healthy chick.

Explanations for an egg failing to hatch include:

  • The egg was never fertilized and didn’t contain an embryo.
  • One or both parents carries an undiagnosed illness that was passed to the embryo.
  • The hen was fed a poor-quality diet, leading to substandard eggs.
  • The eggs weren’t warmed sufficiently or became overheated.
  • Unsanitary cage conditions due to fungus or bacteria.
  • The egg was damaged, killing the embryo.

While 1-2 eggs may fail to hatch, an entire clutch that endures the same fate merits investigation. If the conure lays a clutch of eggs that don’t hatch, learn why before breeding the same pairing again.

Common Sun Conure Breeding Problems

Just because you’ve paired two sun conures doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll reproduce. If conures are declining to breed or are mating, but the hen isn’t laying healthy eggs, here’s why:


The sun conures must be bonded if they’re to mate. If two birds don’t get along, breeding won’t occur. Common reasons for incompatibility include the following:

  • Both birds are the same sex.
  • Ethology discovered that non-breeding pairs fight over territory.
  • The hen is older than the male, so it considers him an unsuitable mate.
  • The conures haven’t lived together long enough to bond.

Inappropriate Environment

Sun conures must feel comfortable in their surroundings to mate.

Ensure you’re doing what it takes to replicate the natural conditions of a conure breeding season, with warm ambient temperatures and 10+ hours of light per day.

You must also regularly clean the cage without disturbing the birds too much. Sun conures will be more temperamental when experiencing hormonal surges.

Keep the sun conures calm during mating season. If you have other pets, especially a cat or dog, keep these out of the room that houses them.

If you keep other bird species, temporarily house these in a different part of the home.

What time of year do sun conures breed?

Poor Diet

If sun conures, especially the hen, aren’t eating well during the breeding season, it’s unlikely that healthy eggs will be laid. Ensure you’re feeding the birds a nutritious diet.

Dystocia (Egg Binding)

Dystocia occurs when sun conures can’t release an egg because it’s weak and misshapen, becoming trapped in the reproductive tract. Egg binding is life-threatening if left unresolved.

Parrots usually become egg-bound due to a lack of calcium or vitamin D3 from direct sunlight (needed to absorb calcium). However, it can be caused by obesity, stress, or even misfortune.

A vet will usually remove the egg from the conure’s body through aspiration. This involves passing a needle through the vent to withdraw the egg’s contents and collapse the shell.


Common explanations for infertility in sun conures include the following:

Dietary concerns can also lead to infertility in sun conures.

How To Increase A Sun Conure’s Fertility

If you’re convinced the sun conures can breed, consider dietary changes to enhance fertility.

Vitamin E is vital. The International Journal of Molecular Sciences explains how vitamin E enhances the quality of semen in male birds and reduces the degradation of lipids in eggs.

Obviously, vitamin E can’t rectify genetic defects and make an infertile conure fertile.

Breeding sun conures is rewarding, especially as the wild population dwindles. In captivity, reproduction is relatively easy because sun conures breed frequently and are protected by your care.