caring for a conure parrot

How To Care For A Conure Parrot [A Complete Guide]

Conures are one of the more popular pet parrot breeds. They have friendly, affectionate personalities and become cuddly once they trust their owners. Like all parrots, they require high levels of care, but they’ll reward you with hours of fun and entertainment.

Conures require a cage measuring at least 36” x 24” x 24” with the bars spaced no more than ½ to ¾ of an inch apart. They also need 2-3 perches and toys to play with to prevent boredom. Give your conure out-of-cage time and interact with it. They eat a diet of high-quality pellets, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

One thing to be aware of is that conures are prone to biting, especially when they’re young or have been rehomed. The good news is that you can train this habit out of them with time and a consistent approach.

Conure Parrot Types

There are 40 species of conures. However, only about a dozen conure parrots are kept as pets. This includes the:

  • Blue-crowned conure
  • Green-cheeked conure
  • Jenday conure
  • Sun conure

These types are colorful, bubbly, and friendly pets. However, they also have their own behaviors, needs, and issues. To make it easier to understand, we can break down these conures into types. You can have:

  • Aratinga conures
  • Pyrrhura conures

The Aratinga species tend to be more brightly colored but are also louder. They’re also less cuddly. If you want an energetic parrot that’s full of eye-catching feathers, then the Aratinga would be ideal.

On the other hand, Pyrrhura conures are smaller and quieter. If you’re a new owner, share a home with other people, or lack space, then a Pyrrhura will be a docile best friend.

Conure Parrot Behavior

While every parrot is different, there are personality traits that nearly all conures have. If these following behaviors are something you’d love in a pet, the parrot may be your next best friend. A normal conure parrot will:

  • Enjoy human interaction
  • Be interested in interaction with other birds but not want to share a cage with them
  • Sleep on its back on the floor of its cage
  • Enjoy chewing on toys or anything else
  • Unscrew things or poke at locks
  • Screech if left alone for too long
  • Require 3-4 days to warm up to new owners, during which time they’ll refuse to be touched

If you build up enough trust with your conure, you can encourage it to be more cuddly, particularly if it’s from the Pyrrhura species. However, don’t be too alarmed if your conure doesn’t show affection. Conures have other personality traits for you to enjoy instead.

How Big Are Conure Parrots?

Conures are a varied group of birds, so their sizes differ from small to medium. The Patagonian conure is the largest, measuring 20 inches from head to tail. The painted conure is the smallest, measuring 9 inches at most.

The average size of a conure parrot is between 9 and 12 inches. That’s measured from the top of its head to the end of its tail. However, conures can be between 9 and 20 inches, so there’s plenty of choices.

looking after a conure parrot

What Colors Do Conure Parrots Come In?

Conure parrots have different colors. The most popular will be:

  • Blue
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Orange

With that said, conures don’t remain fixed in one exact color. Most of these parrots mix and match that palette into a lovely rainbow of feathers. You can have a parrot that’s:

  • Orange and yellow around the head and chest, then green and yellow on the wings
  • Grey and white around the head, with green and blue on the wings and orange on the tail
  • White and orange on the chest, grey on the head, and blue elsewhere

You could own two conures of the same basic colors, but find they’re dramatically different in their patterns.

How Much Is A Conure Parrot?

The price of your conure parrot will depend on the:

  • Species
  • Age
  • Rare coloring

With that said, on average, a conure can cost anywhere from $150 to $400. Let’s look more closely at the factors that can influence the price.

Seller

If you buy a conure from a pet store, the cost may be more reasonable. Private owners may tack a random price tag onto the bird based on sentimentality or misinformation about the species. A breeder may tap into the fact that conures are more exotic and charge an exotic price.

Age

Older parrots may be better trained and know more tricks. This will increase the price. On the flip side, if the parrot is nearing the end of its lifespan, pet stores may lower the price.

The ideal, fair-price age is a fairly young conure. You should just ensure that it’s weaned and doesn’t need hand-feeding unless you have experience.

Rare Coloring

Conures may double in price if their coloring is particularly unique. For example, green-cheeked conures can range from $150-$350, while sun conures can go for $400 or more.

How Long Does A Conure Parrot Live?

The lifespan of conure parrots is 20 to 30 years in captivity. This is significantly shorter than certain breeds of large parrots, which enjoy a life expectancy of up to 80 years.

Even still, you’ll find that three decades is a big commitment. You may enter retirement age with your new pet. If the conure is purchased for a child, that child could be friends with the bird for a large chunk of adult life.

How To Tell The Gender Of A Conure Parrot

As with most parrots, conures are not sexually dimorphic. This means you cannot tell what gender the bird is with a visual assessment. The males and females look identical to each other. That being said, they do have subtle differences, enabling experienced owners to tell them apart:

  • Males have longer tails than female conures
  • Females have a slightly rounder head than males, which are more level on the top
  • Males have sturdier, thicker bodies
  • Breeding females have rounder bellies

If you really want to know your bird’s gender, you can look into professional testing to uncover the bird’s exact sex. This can be costly and won’t be needed unless you plan on breeding the parrot.

Can A Conure Parrot Talk?

While conures are capable of talking, they are not as talkative as other parrots. They will also lack a broad vocabulary and may take longer to pick up basic words. If you want your parrot to learn phrases, that can be possible with several months of training.

With that said, a study published on PLOS One states that orange-fronted conures are very good at responding to calls and imitating humans. If you really want a talking parrot, this species will be a good option. With enough help, patience, and encouragement, your domestic parrot will mimic its limited phrases very efficiently.

Sounds Conures Love to Make

Even if your parrot isn’t a great orator, it will still love making noises. You might find this adorable and mimic the sound back, which is a way to play with the bird.

However, if you’re looking for a quiet pet, these can also be noises to prepare yourself for or to help you reconsider this bird as a pet.

Beak Grinding

This crackling noise occurs when a parrot rubs its top beak with its bottom beak. Conures do this:

  • When they are ready to settle down for the night
  • As a general noise when they are comfortable

It’s similar to when people put on comforting sounds to go to sleep. If your conure makes this sound in your presence, then it’s pleased to be around you.

Chatter

This sound varies, depending on the parrot. However, it’s usually a vocal quirk or whistle that conures enjoy making. They do this when they are happy and carefree. Try mimicking the sound back to show the parrot that you’re happy too.

Laughter

This is a sound the parrot will pick up from you. If you laugh around the bird often enough, it will understand that it’s a joyful sound and want to imitate it. The conure might not repeat it at the most appropriate times, but it’s definitely a sign that it’s in a playful mood.

Singing

Whether your conure is singing because it’s imitating you or filling the silence, it’s always a sound of happiness. You can even teach the bird to sing a few lyrics of your favorite song. Just make sure it’s simple and straightforward.

Clicking

Parrots make this sound by clicking their tongues to the roofs of their mouths. They do it when they are happy and seeking attention from you.

Whistling

When a conure parrot whistles, it’s happy or telling you to come over to play. It’s never an angry sound. You can even teach your parrot to whistle a tune. It may pick up this trick faster than traditional speaking.

How to take care of a conure parrot

Best Names for A Conure Parrot

If you’re still interested in calling one of these parrots your friend, now you can tackle the fun part. Naming it! Here are some of the most popular names for conure parrots:

  • Marley
  • Sunny
  • Kiwi
  • Berry
  • Mango
  • Gracie
  • Blue
  • Boo
  • Snuggles
  • Coco
  • Charlie
  • Lucky
  • Tango
  • Polly
  • Chloe
  • Kiki
  • Peach

How To Take Care of A Conure Parrot

Once you’ve bought a conure, the adventure begins. These parrots require specific diets, enclosures, and enrichment. As long as you’re prepared to cater to these needs, your bird will be healthy, happy, and well-behaved.

Diet

Conure parrots are omnivores. They predominantly eat seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and vegetation, but according to VCA Hospitals, they also eat insects and their larva. For a conure pet, 60-70% of its diet should be specialized pellets. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and a small number of seeds should make up the rest. For vegetables and fruit, conures love:

  • Leafy greens
  • Squash
  • Berries
  • Melons

Don’t feed your parrot avocado seeds or chocolate. All of these things can cause serious health issues. You should also avoid feeding them anything sugary or high in fat. Its digestive system will struggle to process it.

Supplements

If you want to give your conure a health boost, consider vitamin and mineral supplements. Conures are known to get deficient in:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin K

By adding certain foods to its diet, like soy oil and fish meal, you can combat this.

Water Requirements

You should give the conure clean, fresh, filtered water without any chlorine in it. Its water bowl should be constantly available for the bird to drink from at its leisure. Be sure to change it every day, as bacteria can grow in stagnant water more easily. Likewise, because conures are messy eaters, they could muddle up a water bowl in short order.

How To Feed A Conure Parrot

Conures will function best on a precise feeding schedule. This will help the bird regulate its appetite to only eat at these fixed times.

Otherwise, the conure may start overeating. In the wild, parrots don’t always find food each day. To help avoid starvation, they overeat to build up fat stores for lean times.

To keep your bird from doing this in your home and growing obese, you’ll provide a schedule. This will teach the conure that food will always be available, so it should only eat when hungry.

Treats should only compose 10% or less of the conure’s diet. Even when you’re training the conure to do tricks or talk, be sparing with the treats or break them in half to stretch out how long they live.

What Size Cage For A Conure Parrot?

A conure may be a small parrot, but its cage shouldn’t be tiny. Because conures vary so much in size, there’s no cage rule that fits all. However, to keep your parrot happy, the minimum size its cage should be is 36” (long) x 24” (wide) x 24” (high). If you can get a larger cage, that’s even better. That will give them ample room to explore, play, and flutter around.

The bars on the cage should be no more than a ½ inch to ¾ inch apart. Otherwise, the parrot may sneak out by squeezing in between. The cage should also have horizontal bars, so your parrot can perch on them.

You should not leave a parrot in its cage constantly. It still needs to be brought out, allowed to fly around, and encouraged to play. The cage will be a place to stay when it cannot be allowed out or when it’s sleeping. Here are extra factors to consider, so the cage is a cozy hideaway for your bird:

Cage Placement

The habitat should be set up off the floor. Dust, hair, or other debris might get kicked into the bird’s cage otherwise. This also keeps other pets from harassing the bird. 

Ensure the cage is placed somewhere well-lit and away from drafts, so the conure doesn’t get lonely or cold. It’s also wise to place the cage away from the kitchen, as smoke and grease are not to a parrot’s liking.

Perches

Make sure the cage has several perches so that the parrot can play and exercise. A single perch will leave the parrot annoyed and stationary. Three is normally enough to keep your conure’s feet strong and limber. Place them at different heights in the cage:

  • One up high
  • One in the middle
  • One towards the bottom

Temperature

The temperature of your home should not drop below 65 degrees or exceed 80 degrees. You’ll definitely need heat and air-conditioning if your climate doesn’t allow this.

Food Placement

You should place food above all the perches, so droppings don’t go into the food or water.

Bedding

Conures do not require a special nest or sleeping area. Most will happily rest on their perches throughout the night. However, you should line the cage with paper, so you can easily take away droppings.

Additional Birds

A conure can be kept with another conure. However, it should not be housed with other types of birds. This could result in conflict or stress, as the parrot harms its companion or becomes intimidated by it.

Even if it has another parrot friend, you should be socializing with the conure daily. This will keep its mind active and help you to bond with it.

Cover At Night

Like most parrots, conures feel more comfortable sleeping in complete darkness. Be sure to cover its cage with a blanket at night so that it can feel secure.

Caring For A Conure Parrot’s Hygiene

Making sure your parrot’s environment is clean and safe is an important part of its care.

Cage Hygiene

Make sure you regularly clean and disinfect your parrot’s habitat. This should be done with a parrot-safe bleach solution. Once the area has been sanitized, be sure to replace the liner in the cage weekly, if not more often. Water and food dishes should be changed and cleaned daily.

Washing

Don’t use any cleaning agents around your bird, as they can be harmful to it. Inhaling bleach fumes or other chemicals may cause the parrot to grow lethargic and sick.

Likewise, be sure to clean your hands after you hold the bird. According to Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice, parrots can have viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases on them without showing symptoms. To keep yourself and the bird healthy, always promote cleanliness.

Bathing

Conures will bathe themselves if given access to water. You can place your bird in the sink and turn on the faucet so it can take a shower. You can also provide it with a washing bowl twice or more a week, and it’ll do the rest.

Molting

Molting is a natural part of your conure’s life. It’s important to anticipate and prepare for this, so you can relieve any stress or discomfort the parrot experiences. The first molt will take place when your bird is 8-10 months old. After that, it will happen once a year.

Your conure will be feeling itchy due to new feathers growing in. You can help by lightly spraying the bird with water to lessen the itchiness. You can also feed the conure food rich in protein, as it will help the new feathers grow in.

Once the feathers are mostly developed, you can gently brush your hand over the conure’s body. With a petting session twice or more a day, the feathers will more easily lie down and smooth over. Conures do this to each other with their beaks, in a process known as preening.

Common Health Problems

While your conure may live an illness-free life, it’s important to be aware of all the risks. There are health issues that conure parrots are prone to. Most of these problems need to be checked by a vet.

  • Chlamydiosis: appetite loss, fluffed feathers, beak discharge, lime droppings, and pink eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Feather Plucking: Parrot plucks feathers due to boredom, poor diet, or other illness
  • Polyomavirus: loss of appetite, lethargy, weight loss, and sudden death
  • Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD): lack of appetite, weight loss, depression, weakness, regurgitation, and undigested seeds in stool
  • Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease: beak and claw deformities, sudden death, yellow contour feathers on green parrots, and secondary infections
  • Psittacosis: Discharge from eyes and beak, swollen, watery, or crusty eyes, yellow or green droppings, reduced vocalization, reduced appetite, depression, weakness, and weight loss
  • Beak Malocclusion: The top and bottom parts of the beak don’t align. It also causes an overgrown or misshapen beak
  • Aspergillosis: Fungal infection, respiratory disease in parrots, tail bobbing, weight loss, and lethargy

You also want to be on the lookout for potential red flags such as:

  • Beak swelling
  • Soiled, fluffed, or plucked feathers
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Runny or discolored stools
  • Favoring one foot when not sleeping
  • Eye or beak discharge
  • Red or swollen eyes
  • Long periods sitting at the bottom of its cage
  • Decreased activity or grooming
  • Sneezing
  • Change in droppings for more than two days

However, take comfort in this fact: a conure that’s well cared for is unlikely to develop any of these issues.

How To Entertain A Conure Parrot

Conures are naturally intelligent and curious. If left alone in its cage, your parrot will grow aggressive and depressed. That makes it important to entertain and enrich your conure’s life. As long as it’s properly stimulated, it’ll be cuddly and loving. Conures enjoy:

  • At least 2 hours of play or interaction a day. Ideally, you should spend more than 2 hours with your conure.
  • Proximity to water. Take it out of the cage and let it join you in the shower. It might even sing with you.
  • Lots of toys. One or two toys will quickly grow boring. Make sure that you provide your parrot with a wide collection of different toys that you frequently rotate. You can even use some types of baby toys to entertain your parrot.
  • Hanging around. Conures love to climb, hang, and spin around on perches and ropes. Any chain or hoop will quickly become a favorite. Avoid small toys, as they can get caught on the claws and beak.
  • Scavenging. Hide toys and let your parrot seek them out.

Other forms of enrichment will include:

  • Toilet paper rolls to chew
  • A tightly woven washcloth to snuggling up in
  • A soft, fuzzy toy to nuzzle

Give your conure something to keep its mind busy. That’s especially important if you don’t have many hours to spend with it each day.

Playing with Your Conure

You can play with conures any way you like, but there are 3 activities that they are particularly fond of.

Dancing

Conures love to dance. When they are excited or trying to mimic your movements, they will sway back and forth. You can turn on music and dance in front of them. Eventually, they will pick up your moves.

Fetch

To play with your conure, you can also toss around the toys. It will happily walk over to fetch it.

Ripping Things Up

You can also make a fun mess with your bird. Conures love to shred things. If you set up space on the floor to shred newspaper, you can have fun ripping and tearing it along with your feathered buddy.

how long does a conure parrot live?

How to Stop Your Conure from Biting

Conures do have a nasty habit of biting. This is especially prominent in:

  • Young conures
  • Conures that have trauma from being rehomed
  • Conures that are ill-tempered or spoiled (usually from a lack of training)

You don’t have to tolerate the biting. Of course, the bird must trust you and be comfortable with your presence. If it’s scared, stressed, or agitated, no amount of training will stop the bites. However, if it trusts you and just has a nasty habit, here are ways to stop that:

  • Every time the conure bites at you, gently tap its beak and tell it “no.”
  • Refuse to give it attention for about a minute.
  • Present your hand to the bird once again.
  • Don’t stick your hand out suddenly, but don’t creep in closer. The bird might think you’re stalking it like a predator.
  • If the parrot bites at you again, tap its beak, tell it “no,” and ignore it.

This may take a few tries over several days. However, the conure will eventually learn this behavior is not acceptable.

How To Tame A Conure Parrot

Maybe you bought your parrot young and want to hand-tame it. Maybe your parrot has known previous owners and needs to develop a bond with you. No matter the case, taming a conure is possible – with enough patience. The same techniques used to train a bonded parrot will apply to making your untamed conure friendly.

Trust

Before any progress can be made, you have to build trust with your conure. This can be done through:

  • Hand-feeding
  • Approaching the bird quietly and calmly
  • Speaking to the bird throughout the day
  • Giving the bird a safe, calm area to rest, like in its cage
  • Spending 2-3 hours of consistent time with it each day

This will help the bird view you as a non-threat. Once it understands you’re safe, the conure will warm up in its own time. This could be in as little time as a week.

Touch

You also want to get your conure parrot used to your hands and your touch:

  1. Place your hand near or on the cage while talking to the conure.
  2. When it seems comfortable with that, start putting your hand in the cage.
  3. Hold some treats in your hands so that the parrot will approach.
  4. Maintain this routine for several days.
  5. Once it comes to you without hesitation, move on to touching it directly.

Patience and gentleness are key. Eventually, the parrot may even rub against your hand and ask for pets.

Tricks

Once your conure is comfortable with your hand, you can begin teaching it tricks. This will help the bird learn to respond to you and trust your judgment. This also provides lots of interaction between you both, so the bird mentally integrates you into its flock. You can start with:

  • Pressing your finger against the parrot’s lower chest.
  • This encourages it to step up to your 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 the bird and put some excitement in your voice.
  • It may take a few weeks before the bird starts to imitate the noises.
  • Make sure to reward the conure with treats and praise when it succeeds.

Conure parrots make good pets. As long as you’re willing to commit enough time, energy, and love, they’ll reciprocate and bond with you. If done right, you could end up with a friend for decades to come.