When becoming a bird parent, the sun conure is bound to rank on the “best beginner birds” for its personality. Sun conures originate from South America and are also known as sun parakeets. In the wild, they are officially considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Strikingly orange and yellow with accents of dark blue and green, sun conures remain a vibrant and colorful parrot sure to impress any visitor with their mimicry. As a pet, sun conures bond well with humans, have a curious nature, and enjoy constant enrichment.
Learn more about keeping a sun conure as a pet, discover its personality, and understand how to care for these adorable birds.
Temperament and Personality
Overall, sun conures are great first birds for their personalities. They’re inquisitive, pleasant, and affectionate to their keepers.
Understanding the Lovable Traits of Sun Conures
Sun conures are among the most amusing parrots and parakeets kept in aviculture. With a fast intellect and seemingly limitless energy, a sun conure will keep you busy for its long life span. Termed “clowns,” they have bold personalities to match their feathers.
Physical Appearance and Vibrant Colors of Sun Conures
Sun conures have a single plumage coloration: yellow and orange features throughout their body, with white rings around their eyes and a black beak and green or dark blue mottling near their wings and tails. In the wild, these colorings are used as a defense mechanism to blend into the trees; juvenile sun conures even have duller colors to camouflage themselves until they grow stronger. In captivity, keepers can simply enjoy and groom the sun conure’s bright orange and yellow plumage.
The Playful and Social Nature of Sun Conures
Sun conures are energetic, playful birds with a need for near-constant engagement. Unlike other birds, sun conures don’t have a pickiness when it comes to the color of their toys. They’ll use a play gym frequently and create their own tricks, as long as they have a roomy enclosure in which to explore.
Sun Conure’s Ability to Mimic
Sun conures can mimic sounds with the best parrots out there and are notoriously noisy birds. Did you know that sun conure squalls can hit 120 decibels? That’s a higher pitch than an orchestra, motorcycle, or chainsaw! Sun conure will sing to express both fear and excitement, so they’re not the best choice for apartment living.
Care and Maintenance
Caring for a sun conure is similar to care and maintenance routines for other birds.
Housing and Cage Setup
Sun conures aren’t tiny birds — they can grow up to a foot tall! As such, the smallest your sun conure’s cage should be is 30 inches wide by 30 inches tall by 24 inches deep. While it doesn’t need to be long enough for flight inside the cage (as you’ll be letting your sun conure out often inside), it should enable your sun conure to spread its wings. If you have a small sun conure, consider a flight cage. Flight cages enable tiny birds (think finches and canaries) to fly the length of the enclosure safely.
If you’re choosing to adopt multiple birds, be it two conures or a conure and a similar species, consider choosing a double-flight cage. While the birds most likely won’t try to fly within the cage, it gives your conure ample room to ruffle their feathers, explore, hang around, and play.
Nuanced Needs of Sun Conures
Though they’re loud during the day, sun conures need a quiet place to sleep at night. The room your conure cage is in should not have shocking noises (like a kitchen or laundry room for dishwashers, dryers, or washing machines). Sun conures are perfectly happy to be in the corner of a quiet room out of direct sunlight from a window. This way, your sun conure won’t fear storms, pets, or other external forces they see outside, or have to endure the oscillating temperatures from a window. Speaking of temperatures, make sure you know where the heat and air vents in the room you choose are — placing the sun conure cage too close or far from those vents will create an uneven climate for your bird.
Because sun conures are so social, pet parents should strive to keep the cage in a room where they can often see what’s happening around them. Sun conures like to be part of the action, even if they’re still in their cage.
Activity Level of Sun Conures
Sun conures remain playful and active birds. Keeping a sun conure entertained and happy ranges from having the proper toys to encouraging exercise to diversifying their cage environment.
Most bird cages come with perches — when was the last time you saw a bird laying on its side? Perches enable your sun conure to sit, stand, groom themselves, play, take care of their foot health, and bite. Most of the time, bird parents should consider perches disposable items they’ll replace.
Toys for a sun conure include ropes, foraging practice, ladders, bridges, wicker balls, and more. The most important factors in both perches and toys remain their material and engagement level. Choose things made out of a material your sun conures either can’t break off and swallow (and thereby make themselves sick) or that was designed to be consumed. Furthermore, change the orientation of the toys, perches, and decor in your conure’s cage periodically to give them more to explore.
Diet and Nutrition
Sun conures eat a relatively basic diet of pellets, fresh fruit, and fresh vegetables. Pellets can make up the majority of your sun conure’s diet. These professional-grade mixtures will provide your bird with the nutrients they need to keep growing. If you’re adopting a sun conure for the first time and wondering what to feed it, consider the following:
- Are they moving to this diet from a primarily seed-based diet?
- Do they show interest in food?
- How easy is this pellet shape for them to eat?
Pellets are the ideal diet for a sun conure, but it can be challenging to move a seed-eating mature conure to pellets right away. If you’re adopting a seed-eating conure, be sure to wean your conure slowly to the new food.
Fresh fruits and vegetables can make up the remaining 20% to 25% of your sun conure’s diet. Just like any other pet, they deserve a treat every now and then! Steamed sweet potatoes, broccoli, fig, and cucumber are just a few of the many fresh produce sun conures can enjoy. Give these foods in moderation, though, as a tablespoon of them equates to a dinner-plate-sized serving for humans.
Treats for sun conures run the gamut of seeds, nuts, and human-grade produce listed above.
Your sun conure should always have fresh water available — ideally in more than one space. When serving food, offer your bird fresh water each morning. It’s also important to clean out your bird’s water and food bowls every day. Leftover vegetables or fruit may begin to spoil, and simply dumping out the refuse and refilling the bowl allows bacteria to grow.
Foods and Treats to Avoid
Contrary to the fresh fruits and vegetables your sun conure can enjoy, some foods exist you should avoid at all costs. Some are common sense, like chocolate or caffeine, while others might surprise you.
Birds are lactose intolerant, so avoid giving your feathered friend any sort of dairy — like Greek yogurt or cheese. Avocados are potentially toxic to many birds and should never be given to a sun conure as a treat.
When giving your bird fruit, ensure you remove any pits or seeds. These, especially in fruits like cherries and apples, contain a small amount of cyanide that can seriously injure or negatively affect your sun conure if they eat it.
Exercise and Enrichment
Sun Conures are active birds — much more so than some of their larger counterparts who remain content to hang out in their cages most of the day.
Sun conures thrive on activity and engagement with their surroundings and family. What does exercise look like for a sun conure? It might include:
- Cage climbing.
- Hanging upside down on ropes.
- Biting at their perch.
- Supervised out-out-of-cage flight.
If you choose to take your sun conure outside, remember to place a harness on them, unless they’ve been properly trained at flight school to stay by your side and return when called.
Remember that sun conures like other birds and will appreciate additional companionship, but many avian experts recommend you get one of the same gender so as to not accidentally breed or crossbreed species.
Toys, Perches, and Play Gyms
As for toys for your sun conure — the more interactive, the better. Sun conures are naturally curious and love to destroy things, so the signal of a good toy is a destroyed toy! Toys not only provide mental stimulation; it also wears down their beaks, which keeps the beak looking trim and lessens the pain of a nibble or bite.
Perches and play gyms should suit the bird’s size, so a small- to medium-sized perch and gym setup will do well for a sun conure. Toys made of natural woods and fibers are mostly always safe bets over commercial ropes that may shed small threads or degrade into netting that accidentally captures your sun conure. Remember to swap out toys and change around cage environments ever so often to avoid your sun conure getting bored.
A few hours of flight time outside of their cage will do a sun conure, and its mood, wonders. Because they’re affectionate birds, they’ll want to stay near you and play. Or, they’ll choose to nap close to where you are.
When letting your conure out for supervised play, be wary of open windows, fans, and wires — anything that could harm your sun conure, or vice versa.
Health Care and Maintenance
Outside of the annual vet check up, conures don’t require too much veterinary care unless something is wrong. Beyond anything, these annual exams assess the current state of your conure’s development, from diet and exercise to grooming. Vets will perform a physical examination and any lab tests that need ordering.
An unhealthy sun conure may be hard to spot, so monitor your bird for any of the following symptoms and consult a vet on next steps:
- Missing patches of feathers.
- Beak swelling.
- Favoring one foot.
- Drooped wings.
- Discharge in eyes or nose.
- Any color or consistency change in stool.
Lastly, make sure to deep clean your sun conure’s cage at least once a month — but clean any feces or old food out daily (in the morning or night). Use a mixture of vinegar and water or bleach and warm water to clean the bottom of the cage. Never mix bleach and vinegar, as it creates a toxic solution. Before reintroducing your bird to the cage, make sure to wipe down all toys and surfaces again with plain water.
Some forms of sun conure grooming should happen every day, like a bath. Ensure your conure has a bath dish with clean water separate from where they drink. Birds that don’t bathe every day can get misted with warm water at least a few times a week to ensure their plumage remains healthy and unmatted. Did you know some sun conures even enjoy going in showers with their owners?
Sun conures need their nails trimmed and their wings clipped on a regular basis — both of which a vet can do for you. Intervals vary by individual bird and lifestyle.
Health and Wellness
Sun conures have a long lifespan if taken care of well. They’ll outlive almost every dog and cat; their lifespan ranges from eight to nearly 30 years. As such, know the commitment you’re making when adopting a bird that may be with you for a third of your life.
A hardy bird, sun conures still has some common health issues including chlamydiosis, diarrhea, feather plucking, and Polyoma virus. Because these birds are considered exotic, every regional vet may not be well-versed in conure care. Before you adopt your sun conure, identify and establish care with an experienced vet who understands the unique health needs of a sun conure.
When your sun conure has chlamydiosis, or “parrot fever,” they’ll show signs of a loss of appetite, have lime green feces, and sport a swollen abdomen. If you suspect your conure has parrot fever, the best thing to do is talk to a vet immediately. If your conure is plagued by diarrhea or feather plucking, consult your vet. The diarrhea may have a simple fix of shifting your bird’s food — or it may indicate underlying health issues if it’s coupled with another symptom. Feather plucking almost always means boredom or a poor diet. If changing up your bird’s environment, toys, and food doesn’t work, it may be a sign of an underlying illness.
Finally, if your sun conure seems to have weight loss, anorexia, or bruised skin, contact your vet ASAP to avoid the sudden death of your sun conure.
Sun Conures Make Great Pets
Sun conures are gorgeous, exciting creatures that make wonderful family pets. They’re loving and affectionate, they’re pretty low-maintenance in terms of food and wellness, and their silly antics keep pet parents entertained —and on their toes — for hours.
When choosing a bird to adopt, consider a sun conure. They’re great picks for first-time bird owners and families, especially if someone works or stays in the home most days. The only family situations these birds don’t suit are apartment-dwellers or busy families who spend much of their time out of the house.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Yatra/Shutterstock.com
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