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Conures: Your comprehensive guide

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What to expect from your Conure

Conures are usually gregarious, playful, animated birds that enjoy and seek attention. Some conures may be considered short-tempered, and their noise level can be irritating. The less common dusky-headed and green-cheeked conures are somewhat quieter than the more familiar jenday, sun, mitred or half-moon conures. Conures generally have a cavalier attitude about investigating anything new in their environment; thus, they often suffer from injuries. These birds are generally poor talkers, but they can be very vocal in the early morning and late afternoon.

Vital statistics

  • Body length: 9-12 inches (23-31 cm)
  • Body weight (most): 80-200 grams
  • Age of sexual maturity: 1-3 years
  • Maximum life span: 35 years

Is your Conure a male or a female?

It is difficult to reliably distinguish a male from a female conure based on physical characteristics; therefore, endoscopy or laboratory methods must be used for sex determination in breeding facilities. Conures are prolific breeders and the offspring are easy to hand-raise.

What do Conures do all day?

Conures are playful and easily amused with simple toys. They often lie on their backs and chew at their toes or may play hide-and-seek with a towel or brown bag in their enclosure. Because they love to chew, any toys must be free of toxic metals, hooks, sharp objects or small, easily consumed components. Providing chew toys or fresh-cut branches from nontoxic, pesticide-free trees is recommended for conures. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations on locally available safe trees.

Are Conures tame?

Young, hand-raised conures adapt readily to new surroundings and handling procedures. They should be exposed early in life to novel situations (car travel, hospital visits, multiple visitors in the household, other household pets) so that they are well adjusted to these events. Discipline, leadership, patience, hooding (covering the head), a sense of ritual and the offering of rewards are necessary to modify the behavior of conures. Even then, they are not completely trustworthy and may bite when they are angry or don’t get their way.

How to identify your bird

One method used to permanently identify your conure in case of loss or escape is for your avian veterinarian to inject a custom microchip under the skin. Although individually numbered leg bands or rings may be applied, this method is unreliable and may result in potential damage to the bird.

Why the wings should be clipped

Conures that are allowed unrestricted freedom in the home can encounter numerous physical dangers or toxins; therefore, wing clipping is recommended. The goal of clipping the wings is not to make the bird incapable of flight, but to prevent it from developing rapid and sustained flight and to prevent escape. Additional trimming may be required 8-12 weeks after the start of a molt cycle.

How to keep your conure healthy, happy and safe!

  • Give lots of attention (with leadership).
  • Feed a fresh, high quality, toxin-free formulated diet with daily supplementation of small amounts of chopped vegetables and fruit according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Grit is not necessary with modern captive bird diets.
  • Provide clean, fresh uncontaminated water (try using water bottles) and replace twice daily.
  • Remove and replace food and water containers twice daily to maximize activity in a healthy bird.
  • Provide an occasional opportunity for a bath, shower or misting (at least weekly).
  • Avoid spraying the house with insecticides.

Housing for your Conure should:

  • be as large as possible.
  • be clean, secure and safe and easy to service.
  • be constructed of durable, nontoxic material (avoid zinc).
  • contain variable-sized perches made of clean, nontoxic, pesticide-free tree branches.
  • have food and water containers placed at opposite ends of the enclosure.
  • avoid having perches located directly over food containers.
  • offer occasional opportunity for protected outdoor exposure to fresh air, sunlight (not through glass) and exercise.

Conures are very curious and will investigate anything new in their environment. That is why it is important to prevent their access to:

  • ceiling fans
  • hot cooking oil
  • overheated nonstick-coated cookware
  • leg chains
  • sandpaper-covered perches
  • tobacco and cigarette smoke
  • chocolate, avocado, salt, alcohol
  • toxic houseplants
  • pesticides
  • toxic fumes
  • easily dismantled toys
  • dogs, cats and young children
  • cedar, redwood and pressure-treated wood shavings
  • sources of lead or zinc
  • plug-in air fresheners
  • heavily-scented candles

What your veterinarian looks for in a healthy Conure:

  • Dry, open nares
  • Clear, bright eyes (no discharge)
  • Smooth beak
  • Alert, erect posture
  • Body free of lumps and bumps
  • Smooth, bright feathers without color breaks, transparency or ragged edges
  • Even, reptilian pattern on the feet, and nails of appropriate length

Most common disorders of Conures:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Feather and skin disorders
  • Injuries
  • Black splotches in feathers (malnutrition)
  • Bleeding syndrome
  • Bacterial infections
  • Chlamydiosis
  • Polyomavirus
  • Papillomatosis

Many common disease conditions in conures are often the result of malnutrition. Visiting your avian veterinarian for routine health checks will help prevent many diseases and support you in having a long, satisfying relationship with your conure. For help in finding an avian veterinarian in your area, contact the Association of Avian Veterinarians.

Background information

The group of birds known as conures consists of several separate genera. They are small to medium-sized parrots with long tails and proportionately broad, heavy beaks. They have a body shape similar to macaws. Free-ranging conures are found from Mexico to Central and South America. Most conure species are very sociable and live together in small groups, spending time grooming each other. Some species are considered nomadic. Most have a loud, raucous call that can be heard for some distance in the forest. Conures are generally hardy and popular aviculture and pet birds, bringing to captivity their sociable nature and loud voice. The most commonly seen species are primarily of the Aratinga genus. Larger conure species, such as Patagonian and golden (Queen of Bavaria) conures, are relatively rare in captivity.

 

Credit: Used with permission of the Zoological Education Network.  Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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