Bird Food for Your Conure
Feeding conures isn’t difficult – Lafeber bird foods give you a variety of healthy and fun choices. This boisterous, vocal, ball-of-energy bird is generally curious about new objects in its environment, and loves to chew on everything in beak’s reach. Lafeber foods, with their foraging potential, are perfect for this bird, no matter the species, from the bright Sun Conure to the little Green-Cheeked Conure. The conure needs to partner fun with nutrition, so try Nutri-Forage, Avi-Cakes, Lafeber’s Premium Daily Diet Pellets, Nutri-Meals, Pellet-Berries, Popcorn Nutri-Berries, and Nutri-Berries
The Blue-Crowned Conure
With its intelligent eyes and iridescent feathers, the Blue-Crowned Conure is not only a favorite among bird fanciers, but it also gained notoriety in the 1998 movie “Paulie,” which featured a Blue-Crowned Conure with a giant vocabulary and an intelligence to match. The love-stuck, sensitive conure in the movie had the voice of NBC’s Last Comic Standing’s Jay Mohr and was actually played by fourteen different conures. The typical Blue-Crowned isn’t going to speak even a fraction as well as that Hollywood parrot, but the species is known as one of the better talkers in the conure family, though it can be a little difficult to understand.
The Blue-Crowned Conure (Aratinga acuticaudata), a native of South America, is between 15 and 16 inches in length from its head to its long pointy tail. The word “Aratinga” comes from the word “Ara,” the classification of the family of macaws, and “tinga,” meaning smaller, so the Aratinga conures were actually named “little macaws.” The Blue-crowned fits this description well – in stature, it indeed looks like a little macaw. It’s not the flashiest bird in theAratinga group of conures, often passed over by those impressed with the Sun Conure, the Jenday, and even the Nanday. But the Blue-crowned isn’t a bird to be ignored. It is one of the most amicable birds in the conure family when handfed and well-socialized. Like its other conure cousins, this bird is loud and vocally persistent, and is best for someone who doesn’t mind the raucous call. The person who decides to live with a Blue-crowned should consider the proximity of their neighbors.
This primarily green parrot is named for its turquoise blue crown and face. Though it is considered more “drab” than some of its cousins, its colors come alive in natural light, showing various shades of iridescent green. Its eye is surrounded by a white, fleshy periophtalmic ring. Its beak consists of two colors – the black lower mandible and the horn-colored upper mandible. The beak is formidable, and though this bird is fairly laid-back, it can definitely pack a wallop of a bite. The species is monomorphic, so there is no visual distinction between the genders. For companion quality, it doesn’t really matter anyway.
In the wild, Blue-Crowns are known to flock with Mitred Conures and cause damage to grain and fruit crops. This parrot’s light forest and woodland habitat is being systematically destroyed year after year, but it is healthy in aviculture and easy to find, largely due to the movie “Paulie.” Because of this, it’s very reasonable in price.
This is not the cuddliest of conures, but it is an affectionate bird and likes a lot of hands-on attention. It is known to live for 25 to 30 years or more if cared for properly.
This is not a bird that will be content to be locked away in a cage and left to play by itself. It prefers company, either a human or another bird. This species can cohabitate with other Aratinga conure species and get along well, but two different species should never be allowed to breed with each another. It matures at 2 to 3 years, and may want to breed at that time. If the bird is an “only child,” then the owners should understand that it needs as much hands-on attention possible.
Because most people can not be with their parrot as much as the parrot would like, toys are absolutely essential for the bird’s emotional health. Toys also offer some activity and exercise. The best toys for a voracious chewer like the Blue-Crowned are made from soft wood. Chewing also helps the bird to keep its beak trim. Puzzle toys and toys with chewable grass and willow mats add some additional interactivity. Though the Blue-Crowned isn’t the most colorful parrot and won’t catch your attention as easily as some of the other Aratinga species, its personality, talking ability (and movie fame!) are a big draw, ranking it among conure royalty.
The Green-Cheeked Conure
The Green-Cheeked conure (Pyrrhura molinae) is one of the smallest conures and is often confused with the Maroon-bellied conure (Pyrrhura frontalis), a close relative. These birds are so similar in appearance, they are often identified incorrectly by pet stores or their owners. They are the same size, about ten inches long, and both are primarily green. The Green-Cheeked is a bit brighter in color than the Maroon-bellied and has grey barring on its chest, fading into a slightly reddish belly. The Maroon-bellied has a golden barring on its chest and distinct, heart-shaped maroon shading on its belly—hence the name. Both have a dark grey beak and feet. They are most easily confused when they are young, before their full color comes in after the first molt.
The Green-Cheeked conure is a favorite among bird novices because of its relatively low price, small stature, temperament, and relatively low noise level, at least compared to its larger cousins. The Green-Cheeked will breed fairly easily and as a result are not difficult to find. Owners love the Green-Cheeked for its relative quietness compared to other conures. It is not as loud or as frequent in its calling, but it will make some noise. Green-Cheeked conures have been known to talk, and some are able to learn quite a few words, but they are generally not prized for their talking abilities.
The novice and the experienced bird owner alike will enjoy the Green-Cheeked as a pet. This bird may not be for the very beginner, though someone that has kept a parakeet or other small bird healthy for a time may be ready for this easy-going bird. Green-cheeked are not known to be nippy, and are particularly affectionate.
Because Green-Cheeked are highly affectionate and love their owners intensely, they need an owner that is able to give them a great deal of time out of the cage. With some attention on a daily basis, even paired Green-Cheeked will maintain their pet quality. If you don’t have another Green-Cheeked, you can pair this bird easily with a Maroon-bellied conure, but don’t allow them to breed. The Green-cheeked will generally live peacefully with conures of similar size, though will not readily tolerate smaller birds, and might be in danger from the aggression of a larger bird.
The Green-Cheeked is a little clown, always full of antics. These birds love to hang upside-down and clamor along the cage bars, waiting for their owners to play with them. Green-Cheeked are mischief-makers, so keep an eye on your bird at all times. This is a good bird for children, as it is small enough for little hands to handle and is generally good-natured. However, realize that any bird can bite, and little fingers are tender. Always use caution around birds and children, especially for the bird’s sake. This species can live up to 25 years or more with proper care.
The Jenday Conure
The Jenday Conure (Aratinga Jandaya) is one of the favorite medium-sized conures, just below the Sun Conure in popularity, but not in personality or charm. The Jenday is a member of the Aratinga genus, which includes the Sun, Gold-Capped, and Halfmoon (Orange-fronted), Blue-Crowned, and Mitred conures, all charismatic, amiable, and attractive birds. The Aratinga conures make great companions for someone wanting a large bird, but without the space to actually keep one. What these conures lack in bulk, they make up for in personality, intelligence, and affection.
The Jenday is the same shape and size as the Sun conure, but its body is primarily green, with a bright orange and yellow head. The colorful head appears only in the mature bird, so you should cut a photo of an adult Jenday out of a book or magazine and display it next to your juvenile Jendays, who will be primarily green with mottled yellow heads until they are about two years old.
Before you get one of these birds, contact your local Fish and Wildlife commission to make sure that the Jenday is legal in your state without a permit, or obtain the proper licensing for the species. For example, people owning Jendays in New Jersey need a permit, according to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.
The Jenday is a playful cuddler and a superb family pet, able to bond with everyone in the house. This is a trusting bird, intelligent enough to learn simple tricks, and it can learn to talk, though it isn’t known as a highly proficient talker. The best attribute this bird has is its intense affection for its owners. This is a bird who is content to ride around on a shoulder all day, cuddled up to its owner’s neck. Fortunately, handfed Jendays are not known to become nippy and can maintain a strong bond with an owner during their 30 year lifespan.
Like most conures, the Jenday is persistently noisy, with a raucous call that can disturb those with more sensitive hearing. It’s moderately loud, and shouldn’t disturb neighbors.
Jendays need an owner able to give them a great deal of time out of the cage. With some attention on a daily basis, even paired Jendays maintain their pet quality. If you don’t have another Jenday but want to get your bird a friend, you can pair this bird with a Gold Capped, a Sun, or even a Blue Crowned conure, but make sure not to breed these birds—the pairing is for companionship only.
Keeping a Jenday in good health isn’t difficult. Jendays are not picky eaters if they learn to eat a variety of foods when they’re weaning. Seeds and pellets and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables should be offered daily. This isn’t a bird known for obesity, but weight problems can occur if the bird is fed improperly and leads a sedentary lifestyle.
Keeping fit is an important part of keeping healthy, so an adequately sized cage is important, preferably with the dimensions of at least 36′ long, 24′ wide, and 24′ high. Though this bird is similar in size to the cockatiel, it will not be happy in a “cockatiel” sized cage. Confining a bird of this size and energy to an inadequate cage can lead to self-mutilation and general crankiness.
Jendays, like all conures, are notorious chewers, and need lots of wooden toys and branches to serve their chewing cravings. Indestructible toys, such as those made from acrylic, lava, and hard plastic are good too, but should make up a smaller percentage of the toys offered. A playgym and play stand is a must for this active bird, especially one with places to hang rope and toys. Finally, a solid swing made of tough material is a great addition to the Jenday’s environment.
The Sun Conure
Originally from South America, specifically Venezuela, Northern Brazil, and Guyana, the Sun Conure (Aratinga solstitalis) is one of the more popular conures of its size due to its stunning plumage, its extraordinary disposition, and its exceptional quality as a companion bird. Sun Conures are lively, vocal, and expressive; this is a bird best known for its beauty and its big mouth.
The Sun Conure is approximately twelve inches long, and is most recognizable by its bright orange and yellow coloring, often mottled here and there with splotches of green. It has a black beak, white rings around its eyes, and a long, tapering tail. The sunny’s striking coloration and sweet temperament makes it a favorite among pet owners and a darling with experienced aviculturists because it is easily bred. Immature birds do not reach their full coloration for about two years.
Though the coloration between the sexes is very similar, the males are said to be slightly brighter. Males are also said to have a squarer, flatter head and females a rounder, smaller head, though only experienced breeders are good at eyeing the birds and making an educated guess. Certainly there’s no difference in pet quality.
Sunnys are not the loudest of conures, but they are a vocal species and will do their share of screaming, without exception. Most conures are notorious for noise; don’t risk getting home and being upset that your pretty new bird won’t shut up. The Sun Conure may not be any noisier than a canary, but it’s the quality of the voice that matters—the sunny’s cry is shrill and piercing, and is emitted in rapid succession. Periods of noise and periods of quiet are normal for the Sun Conure, however, a sunny that feels insecure or lonely can be persistently (and annoyingly) loud. The Sun Conure is not known to be an extraordinary talker, but they can learn to say a few words.
These birds are playful clowns, lying on their backs or dangling from a rope toy – they are forever amusing. They are also easily trained, but will bite if provoked. In general, however, the Sun Conure is extremely affectionate and cuddly, and will be deeply loyal to a gentle owner. This is a good family bird and will not “turn” on family members if they are kind and attentive to the bird.
The Sun Conure is no messier than smaller birds, and loves to be outside of the cage for playtime. A sunny will revel in its owner’s attentions and isn’t a bird that enjoys being left alone. It will appreciate another Sun Conure as a “comrade” and will not lose its pet quality if the owners are attentive to both birds. Because it’s in the Aratinga family, it can be paired with a jenday, mitred, nanday, gold-capped, blue crowned, or another Aratinga, but not for breeding purposes. These birds should be exclusively platonic pals. Some breeders create “Sundays” or “Jensuns” but this is not recommended because hybridization taints the already limited gene pool.
Sunnys can live between 15 to 25 years with proper nutrition, exercise, and regular veterinary visits. Breeding females or pets laying eggs without a mate are prone to egg binding and calcium deficiency. Sun conures that are confined to a small cage are prone to becoming overweight as well.
Because this bird has its loud moments, invest in a cage cover. Some manufacturers design fitted covers, which are great for the sunny’s abode. Loose covers can be chewed and present a choking hazard when frayed or holey. Don’t keep the bird covered all day, but cover it night and for a few minutes when the bird is being excessively noisy. Remember, some noise is to be expected.