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caring for a conure parrot

How To Care for A Conure Parrot for Beginners

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Conures are friendly, characterful parrots capable of bonding closely with their owners.

Conures are small to medium-sized parrots, ranging from 8.5 to 19 inches long. The average size of a conure is 9-12 inches, including the ever-popular green-cheeked conure and sun conure.

Conures need a cage with enough space to extend their wings and move around freely. They also need food and water bowls, 3+ perches, and toys to exercise their active minds and bodies.

A conure’s diet comprises pellets, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, insects, and meat. They eat their main meals twice daily, at sunrise and sunset. You can also feed them some mid-day snacks.

The cage and everything inside must be spot-cleaned daily, with weekly deep cleaning. You must also clean around the cage because conures are messy eaters and produce feather dust.

How To Take Care of A Conure Parrot

Conures need a sizable cage, many things to do, a nutritious diet, and one-on-one time. They’ll be healthy, happy, and well-behaved if you cater to their core requirements. These include:

Cage Size And Dimensions

A conure may be a small or medium-sized parrot, but its cage should be spacious. To keep a conure happy, the cage should be 36″ (long) x 24″ (wide) x 30″ (high).

The bars should be no more than ½ inch to ¾ inch apart. Otherwise, a conure may squeeze in between, escaping or injuring itself. The cage needs horizontal bars so a conure can hang from them.

looking after a conure parrot

Cage Placement

The cage should be off the floor because birds prefer elevated positions to check their surroundings. Parrots are a prey species, so they’ll feel safer if they can see what’s around them.

Ensure the cage is placed somewhere well-lit and away from drafts. The living room is preferred because it’ll be the right temperature, and the bird can actively engage with you.

Keep the cage away from the kitchen because cleaning products and non-stick cookware (Teflon) release toxins that can kill pet birds. Also, many human foods are deadly to free-flying parrots.

Perches

Ensure the cage has 3+ perches so the parrot can freely explore its cage. A single perch will leave the parrot with nowhere to go. Place the perches at different levels:

  • One up high.
  • One in the middle.
  • One toward the bottom.

Never put a perch above food and water bowls, or the contents will become tainted with feces.

Cage Covers

Conures feel more comfortable sleeping in darkness, so cover the cage with a blanket at night. This can lead to a more restful night’s sleep and prevent night terrors.

Cage Liners

Conures don’t require a nest or sleeping area because they rest on their perches overnight. Line the cage with paper (or a liner) to make removing droppings easier.

UV Lighting

Conures need sufficient exposure to natural sunlight or UV lighting to synthesize vitamin D3. Preening releases oils (vitamin D precursors) from the Uropygial gland onto the feathers.

A conure can’t absorb calcium if it doesn’t get sufficient UV light, resulting in hypocalcemia.

You may assume that putting a conure’s cage near the window will suffice. Unfortunately, glazing blocks UV light. That’s why parrots need about 3 to 4 hours of UV light exposure per day.

Temperature And Humidity

A home should be 65-80 degrees, so regulate the temperature with central heating and cooling methods. Temperatures can deviate slightly, but don’t leave a cage near a heating source or in a drafty location.

Parrots need humidity for healthy skin, feathers, and sinuses. Your home’s humidity level should be between 40 and 60%. Exceeding this figure will lead to mold and mildew growth.

Hygiene And Cleanliness

Ensuring the cage is clean is essential to a conure’s welfare. This involves:

Cage Cleaning

Regularly clean and disinfect the cage with a parrot-safe cleaning solution. Once the area has been sanitized, replace the cage liner weekly or as required.

Water/food dishes and toys should be washed several times daily to keep everything fresh.

Don’t use harsh cleaning agents around conures. Inhaling bleach fumes or other chemicals can cause respiratory distress and premature death. Avoid anything that produces smoke or a strong scent.

Bathing

Conures bathe themselves and stay clean when provided with clean water.

You can put a conure in the sink and turn on the faucet (at a low setting) so it can shower. Alternatively, provide a bathing bowl whenever you’d like it to wash.

Food And Diet

If a parrot doesn’t eat, it’ll starve within 72 hours.

A conure will be malnourished if it eats a lot, but the food lacks essential nutrients.

Food Requirements

Conures are omnivorous birds, so they consume plant and some animal matter. They eat pellets, seeds, nuts, fruits, insects, and meat. For a pet conure, 55% to 70% of its diet should be quality pellets.

Calcium deficiencies are common in all parrot species. Consequently, you must offer calcium-rich foods to prevent skeletal decalcification (osteoporosis) and eggshell abnormalities.

Never give a parrot avocado, coffee, or chocolate because they’re toxic. Also, don’t feed conures foods high in fat and sugar (human junk food) to prevent weight gain and obesity.

Conures thrive with a reliable feeding schedule. They eat first thing in the morning and an hour before bedtime. During the day, they can be fed snacks for energy and as training rewards.

Water Requirements

Give a conure clean, fresh, filtered water without chlorine. Its water bowl should always be available to drink from at leisure. Parrots won’t survive more than 24 to 72 hours without water.

Molting

Molting is when a conure replaces its old and damaged feathers. The first molt occurs when a conure is 8-10 months old, lasting about 2 months. After that, molting will happen once or twice a year.

A conure will feel itchy due to new feathers growing in. You can lightly spray the conure with water to lessen the itchiness. Also, high-protein foods should be provided to support new feather growth.

Conure Health Problems

Here are some common health issues experienced by pet conures:

  • Chlamydiosis: Appetite loss, fluffed feathers, beak discharge, lime droppings, and pink eyes.
  • Diarrhea: Loose and runny stools.
  • Feather-destructive behavior (FDB): Feathers are removed due to boredom, poor diet, or illnesses.
  • Polyomavirus: Loss of appetite, lethargy, weight loss, and sudden death.
  • Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD): A lack of appetite, weight loss, depression, weakness, regurgitation, and undigested food in the stool.
  • Psittacine beak and feather disease: Beak and claw deformities, yellow contoured feathers on green parrots, and secondary infections.
  • Psittacosis: Discharge from eyes and beak, swollen, watery, or crusty eyes, yellow or green droppings, reduced vocalization, low appetite, depression, weakness, and weight loss.
  • Beak malocclusion: The top and bottom parts of the beak don’t align, which can cause an overgrown or misshapen beak.
  • Aspergillosis: Dried fungal spores enter the lungs and air sacs, causing respiratory distress.
  • Worms: Endoparasites, such as roundworms, may be identified in a fecal examination. They have a spaghetti-like appearance and live in the intestine.
  • Mites: Ectoparasites, such as scaly-face mites (Cnemidocoptes), feed on the layer of skin on the feet and beak. They’re hard to see, so check for tiny clusters of red or black spots.

Most conures aren’t routinely vaccinated, but the polyomavirus vaccine is recommended.

How To Entertain A Conure Parrot

Conures are intelligent, curious birds. They’ll grow aggressive and depressed if left alone in their cages, so take steps to enrich their lives. Conures need the following:

  • Play and interaction.
  • Clean, fresh water.
  • Engaging toys (wooden blocks, ropes, foraging toys, bells, etc).
  • The chance to climb, hang, and spin.
  • Scavenging and foraging opportunities.

Ensure a conure always has an active mind and body. By providing interesting and colorful toys, conures will engage with them. In doing so, this will wear down and shape their ever-growing beaks.

Playing with A Conure

Here are some activities conures enjoy:

Dancing

Conures love to dance. They’ll sway back and forth when excited or mimicking your movements. You can turn on music and dance in front of them. Eventually, they’ll pick up the moves.

Fetch

You can throw toys around because a conure will walk over and fetch them.

Ripping Things Up

Conures like to shred things. If you set up space on the floor to shred newspaper, you can have fun ripping and tearing it together.

Television

While not all conures like TV, some enjoy watching certain shows with their owners. Avoid nature programs with predatory animals (snakes, birds of prey, etc.)

How To Stop A Conure from Biting

Conures have a habit of biting, especially:

  • Young conures.
  • Birds that have endured trauma from being rehomed.
  • Conures that are ill-tempered or spoiled.
  • Abused and fearful birds.

You needn’t tolerate getting bitten. Of course, a conure must trust you and become comfortable in your presence. Here are ways to stop conures from biting:

  • When a conure bites, tap its beak and tell it “no.”
  • Refuse to give it attention temporarily.
  • Present your hand to them once again.
  • Don’t stick your hand out suddenly.

This may take time, but a conure will eventually learn this behavior is unacceptable.

How To Tame A Conure Parrot

Maybe you bought a young conure and want to hand-tame it, or the parrot had previous owners and needs to develop a bond with you.

No matter the case, taming a conure is achievable with patience. The same techniques utilized to train a bonded parrot will apply to making an untamed conure friendly.

Trust

You have to build trust with a conure, which can be achieved through:

  • Hand-feeding.
  • Approaching them quietly and calmly.
  • Speaking to them throughout the day.
  • Giving them a safe, calm area to rest, like in their cage.
  • Spending several hours with them each day.

Eventually, the conure will see you as a non-threat.

how long does a conure parrot live?

Touch

You need to get a conure used to your hands and touch, so do the following:

  1. Place your hand near or on the cage while talking to them.
  2. When it seems comfortable, start putting your hand in the cage.
  3. Hold some treats in your hands so that it’ll approach.
  4. Maintain this routine for several days.
  5. Once it comes over without hesitation, you can touch it.

Tricks

Once a conure is comfortable with your hand, you can start teaching it tricks.

This will teach them to respond to you and trust your judgment. This also provides interaction between you, so the conure accepts you into its flock. You can start by:

  • Pressing your finger against its lower chest.
  • It’ll step up to the finger.
  • When it does, give it a treat.

Likewise, you can encourage talking:

  • Turn off any distractions.
  • Begin with simple words like “Hello,” “Goodbye,” or “Are you hungry?”
  • Speak directly to it and put some excitement in your voice.
  • It may take a few weeks before it imitates the noises.
  • Reward them with treats and praise when they succeed.

Here are some simple words you can teach conures.

Conure Parrot Cost

The price of a conure depends on the following factors:

On average, a conure costs between $200 to $600. The rarest and most unusual varieties can cost over $3,000. Let’s explore the factors that influence the selling price:

Seller

The price will likely be fixed if you buy a conure from a pet store. However, private owners may charge more for a conure based on sentimentality or because it’s deemed a more exotic bird.

Breeders may charge more than stores because they provide superior care and keep more detailed records. Some breeders also offer basic training and teach conures basic vocabulary.

Age

Older parrots may be better trained and know more tricks, but they’ll be closer to the end of their lives. Younger birds are easier to train and have less emotional baggage (abuse, rehoming, etc).

Rare Colors

Conures may vary in price if their colors are unique, less common, or in greater demand. For example, green-cheeked conures cost $250-$500, while sun conures cost $450-$700.

Conure parrots make good pets. If you’re willing to share time, they’ll start to bond with you. Then, you’ll have a funny, entertaining, and loving companion for up to 30 years.