Conures -a colourful feathered friend

‘Conure’ is the name used to describe a vast array of parrots that hail from the Americas and the Caribbean Islands. Conures come in a range of sizes and many different colours and patterns, and it’s likely there are about 50 species and many more sub-species worldwide, of which approximately 20 are in Australia.

There are two main genus of the Conure family (although the birds are not limited to these two). These are Pyrrhura which has 18 species, and Aratinga which has about 20. Pyrrhura are the smaller (and quieter) of the two. Aratinga are more active and tend to be more destructive especially of wooden material.

Features of Conures

Appearance:

It is not possible here to describe the appearance of every species, but in general Conures:

  • Range in size from 23cm (small) to 48cm (medium)
  • Come in just about every colour of the rainbow.
  • Have broad beaks and a slender body, and most have a distinct eye-ring.

Other Characteristics of Conures:

  • Very social and love company.
  • Active, playful and like doing tricks.
  • Intelligent, easily tamed and trained.
  • Affectionate and like to be preened.
  • They love taking baths.
  • Hardy and healthy, providing their environment is sound.
  • Need stimulation, can get bored.
  • Make a screeching rather than a musical sound.

Caring for Conures

Grooming:

  • Set up a bathing area for your bird or spray him with warm water. He will enjoy this and will preen himself afterwards.
  • Clip your bird’s nails and beak if they overgrow, and clip his wing feathers to discourage high flying or escape.

Diet:

  • Suitable foods include formulated pellets and parrot mixes and seeds, as well as fruits, vegetables, protein and grains.
  • Conures need a balanced, varied and interesting diet. If fed only seeds they will require supplements, and they may also get bored. Green and orange vegetables and apples, grapes or other fruits are favourites. Grains such as cooked pasta or rice can also be added to their feed.
  • The birds will need access to fresh, clean water every day.

Home:

  • The cage should be big enough that the bird’s tail does not touch the bottom.
  • Natural perches help keep his beak and nails trimmed.
  • Suitable toys in the cage help to keep him stimulated.
  • Keep the cage lower than your own eye level so to discourage him from trying to dominate you.
  • Let your bird out of his cage (indoors!) if it is not big enough for him to move freely.

Taming / Training tips:

  • Clip your bird’s wings before trying to train him.
  • Start training him when very young. Buy or borrow a good parrot training book or DVD.
  • Always reward good behaviour with a treat such as a piece of fruit or cracker.
  • Start by training him to sit on your finger. If he tries to bite, blow on him as this helps discourage him from doing so.
  • Be gentle and encouraging and do not scold or hit your bird.
  • Tricks you can teach a Conure include ‘playing dead’ and retrieving and bringing objects to you.
  • Conures may sometimes learn to talk.

Activities for Conures:

  • Natural perches in the cage allow the Conure the opportunity for chewing, which they love to do. Bird ‘chewing blocks’ are also helpful.
  • Put toys in the cage such as swings, ropes, mirrors and ladders.
  • Interact with your bird often to help keep him happy.

Health problems:

A bird who is happy and who has a balanced nutritious diet and a clean and healthy environment will usually be quite hardy and will resist disease quite successfully. Signs of illness include loss of appetite, weight loss, discharges, depressed behaviour, lethargy and breathing problems. Conures can contract respiratory and eye infections and inflammations of the sinus, amongst other conditions. If your bird becomes ill he needs to be taken to an avian vet.

Examples of popular Conures
The ‘Sun Conure’ is a brightly coloured small parrot of up to about 30cm in size from South America. He often has a lot of bright yellow plumage, as well as red, blue and green feathers. Sun Conures are very social and can be very noisy, and they love to play and do tricks.

The ‘Blue-crowned Conure’ is a quieter bird who can be shy at first. However once he is comfortable he can become very playful and quite loud. He is very intelligent and can be quite a character. Blue-crowned Conures usually have green plumage with a blue head and cheeks. They grow up to 37cm.

‘Half-Moon Conures’ are happy little parrots with a call that is lower in volume than some of the other types of Conure, and are also considered to be less destructive. They have an orange frontal band and a blue crown and green plumage. These birds grow to about 24cms. They can become good talkers.