Sun Conures or Sun Parakeets
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The Sun Conure, also known as Sun Parakeet (Aratinga solstitialis) is a parrot that is native to the north-eastern coastal forests of South America, specifically northeastern Brazil and Guyana. They were thought to occur in eastern Venezuela, French Guiana; Suriname. Their current status in these areas is unknown.
Within its natural range, this species is endangered by loss of habitat and trapping for the pet trade. Their numbers are declining, and they are now very scarce or absent across many parts of its former range. However, they are popular and relatively common in the pet trade.
These social parrots typically congregate in noisy groups of up to 30 individuals. They are often seen foraging on fruits, flowers, berries, seeds, nuts, and the occasional insects (particularly during the breeding season, when they require more protein in their diet.
Sun Conures can live for 20 to 30 years.
Chinese: 金黄鹦哥 ... Czech: aratinga slunecní ... German: Sonnensittich ... Danish: Solparakit ... Dutch: Zonparkiet ... Finnish: aurinkoaratti ... French: Conure soleil ... Italian: Conuro del sole ... Japanese: koganemekishikoinko ... Norwegian: Solparakitt ... Polish: konura sloneczna ... Portuguese: Jandaia-sol ... Slovak: klinochvost zlatohlavý ... Spanish: Aratinga Sol ... Swedish: Solparakit
Sun Conures measure 12 inches (30cm) in length, including the long tail. They weigh between 3.5 - 4.5 oz (100 - 130g), with an average weight of 4 oz (110 g.)
As with all conures, the Sun Conure has the bare, white skin patch around the eyes.
The plumage of the sun conure is a strikingly beautiful red/orange/yellow over most of the bird. The wings have a slight green on the wings.
Both males and females look alike. However, according to some breeders, one can take a guess by looking at the shape of the bird's head. Females have a rounder and smaller head than the male. The male's head is squarer, with a flatter forehead.
This method most certainly isn't foolproof and if identifying the right sex is important, DNA sexing (or surgical sexing) is recommended.
Immature Sun Conures have a mostly green plumage. As they mature, more and more of their green feathers on the back, abdomen and head are replaced with yellow, orange and reddish feathers of the adult.
They usually attain their adult plumage when they are about 18 months old.
Reproductive maturity is reached when they are about two years old.
The Jenday Conure A.jandaya) looks similar, but lacks the yellow markings on the shoulders.
Calls / Vocalizations
Sun Conures are most vocal in the morning and in the evenings.
In flight, they make screechy and rapidly repeated sounds.
While perched, chuckling and thin, high-pitched wheezy notes can be heard.
The Sun Conure is noted for its loud squawking compared to its relatively small size. The bird is capable of mimicking humans but not as well as some larger parrots. This being said, there are some amongst them that are very capable talkers.
They have big personalities for such small birds. Owners report that they are smart and interactive, but are also more prone to behavioral problems than are cockatiels or budgies - but this would be the case with any conure. They all require a committed owner who will work with their pets to guide their behavior, while cockatiels and budgies are "beginner birds."
They love to play!
They are very active parrots that like to play, explore and chew. Lots of toys are recommended to keep their beaks from "getting busy" on your furniture.
They are Smart!
Most will hold their own with any of the mid-sized or medium-large parrots in terms of smartness. They can be taught simple tricks pretty easily and more complicated tricks with some training.
How much attention do they need?
Like all parrots, they are social birds. They do require daily interaction with their social group, entertainment, things to do -- or else they will become bored and develop behavioral problems. In the wild, they would never leave the company of their flockmates. In a captive pet situation, a hand-fed conure requires the same social interaction from you and your family.
If you have little time to give, a parrot would not be a good choice for you. You would need someone at home several hours a day at a minimum, preferably someone should be home most of the day. I would recommend that there be people at home, with the bird, for at least several hours every day or the majority of day.
It's best to keep your pet conure where the center of activity is, usually the family room, and leave the cage door open or allow your pet to be on a playpen whenever someone is at home. During this time some direct interaction should be provided, such as talking to your pet, petting it, or placing it on your shoulder while you surf the internet, watch tv or go about your other activities. My parrot even joins me in the gym!
Do they make good family pets?
In general, conures make good family pets as long as they have been well socialized. They don't mind a lot of activity - in fact, the more "fun stuff" is going on, the more entertained and happier they tend to be. They usually get along well with all family members, although they are likely to eventually choose a favorite; but as long as they are exposed to, and socialized by, other family members, they should maintain their friendliness with the others. Conures love to be touched and handled - another reason why they often do well with kids.
However, they go through nippy phases that can be hard on children as well as on adults. Teaching the child appropriate handling of the conure will help prevent some painful experiences - however, it will never entirely eliminate them. The tamest pet bird gets startled and bites - without this being a true reflection on its personality. It's a natural reaction. Experienced pet owners learn to read the body language of their pets and can avoid most of these "accidental encounters." Training is important to prevent an accidental bite from turning into a behavioral problem.
It is difficult to instruct smaller children on proper parrot handling, and their interactions with the conure should always be supervised. But children who have learned to handle the conure gently and confidently usually don't have a big problem with aggression. How well the child-parrot interaction goes really depends on the maturity level of the child, as well as the proper socialization-level of the parrot. Admittedly though, some genetics come into play as well. Some individual parrots are more aggressive than others. Often this is a family trait and one parrot pair produces sweet babies, while others produce nippy offspring. Sweet babies can turn nippy, if not socialized well, and nippy (usually nervous / fearful birds) can be taught to be good family pets. Birds do pick up on stress and anger that we humans may feel and this can impact their personality and likelihood to be aggressive towards us. It is always best to approach a bird calmly and focus on, and enjoy, the interaction with the parrot rather than reflecting on problems in your life. Doing so will actually be conducive to your own health, as it will help you relax.
There never will be a guarantee that a meaningful relationship between the children in the family and the pet parrot develops and if things don't go well, the conure may end up being a pet for the adults only. For this reason, it is not recommended to buy a parrot as a pet for the kids - this needs to be a family pet, with the adults taking on most of the responsibility.
This is what Ellen Musgrove, from PA, says about her sun conure Princess, featured on this page:
My sun conure is 18 months old and can VERY verbally speak BRAT, OUT, LUV and MINE, EAT.
They are especially popular as pets because of their fun personality and bright coloration. Due to their inquisitive temperament, they demand a great deal of attention from their owners, and can sometimes be loud. Like many parrots, they are strong chewers and should be provided plenty of toys and natural branches to chew on.
They are very cuddly birds and like to climb in and under things. They love sleeping in a bird tent, although they usually chew on it and will destroy it in a few months. In nature, they spend considerable time "customizing" their nesting sites with their beak -- this is natural behavior and the urge of chewing on their bird tent or nest box is an innate need that is natural and shouldn't be discouraged. Some owners who are fed up with buying new tents every six months or so, prefer to provide a nesting box.
The below photos show very well the lovely personality of this little and colorful parrot.
Gerda George is equally enthusiastic about her Sun Conure. She writes ...
"I was privileged to own a number of dogs, cats, horses and one mini parrot in my life -- only the bird is my old-age companion now -- talking to me as if i would be a parrot.
I let him fly free around the living room and kitchen as he pleases and did not cut his wings as the breeder and store owners suggest. Cutting a bird`s wings make him to be an invalid and i would not do that to Peetee!
He loves to watch T.V. - whenever he likes to leave his cage, he places himself in front of the gate and calls: "Peetee, Peetee pretty bird".. again and again - until i open the gate of his house.
He thinks that i am Peetee and not he. At least that what he calls me when he wants something. I taught this phrase to him when he was apr. 3-5 months old -- now he is going on two years old and he retained this phrase. He is a truly beautiful bird of many colors -- a Sun Conure.
Whenever he roams flying or rests on my shoulder he would fly back to his cage, places himself on the open gate and goes to the bathroom -- always in the same area - leaving his droppings. I have never found them in any other place in the house when he is out. I am so amazed as to how clean and intelligent these small creatures are.
Soo enjoyable - Peetee screams when i leave the room or house - and greets me when he hears me opening the garage-or house door. I do love all animals and their stories -- they are so special."
Amy Hayward reports the following about her pet Sun Conure:
I have a Sun Conure who's age is unknown, but he is relatively young. He has lived with us for only 6 months and has learned to say "yeah" and "no" (two words that are said to him often, lol). While he does not say these words with much enunciation, you can certainly tell what he is saying. I am confident that, over the years, he will learn to say other words as well. It may be beneficial to your other readers to know that there is a possibility that their Conure might talk too. Thanks for all the info you give on your site!
Conures, albeit their smaller size, do present their challenges, and they are not the best "starter" birds, although some species are easier to keep than others. It really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
Conures are known for their loud and harsh calls, which is a natural way of communication and social interaction and shouldn't be "trained away" -- however, they can develop into excessive screamers, which really requires early intervention.
Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation. Behavioral challenges that conures present include:
- Excessive Chewing: Any parrot will chew. In nature, they use their beak to "customize" their favorite tree, to enlarge the size of their nest in a tree hollow. Doing this keeps their beaks in good condition. The problem is excessive and undesirable chewing. Undisciplined conures will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. The owner needs to provide plenty of "healthy" chewing opportunities (bird toys, natural wood branches, etc.) and training is necessary to teach your pet what is "off-limits."
- Biting: Conures can become nippy. Like most parrots they are likely to discover their beaks as a method of "disciplining us" once they are out of the "baby stage." It really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
- The "Noise" Factor: Sun Conures have a reputation for being noisy. Not everybody can tolerate their high-pitched screech that can be annoying. However, even though it can't (or should not) be entirely eliminated, there are ways to discourage screaming / screeching in your conure.
Training and behavioral guidance will help your pet be the kind of companion you want it to be ...
- AvianWeb Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit this website for valuable tips on parrot behavior and training. If you found a way to resolve a "parrot behavioral issue" please share it with others.
- If you are, as I am, a visual learner and prefer step-by-step instructions to train your pet, I recommend:
- Procuring your Parrot
Housing & Caring for Your Conure: Conures love to climb and play and need to be provided with a cage that allows them to move around freely and toys to entertain themselves with. Please refer to the following websites for information:
Breeding / Reproduction:
They are monomorphic and reach sexual maturity at one or two years of age. In the wild, they typically nest in palm cavities.
They generally make good breeders and are easy to breed in a spacious flight. Captive breeders usually accept a cockatiel-sized nest box (12" x 12" x 12").
The average clutch consists of 2 to 4 eggs, which are incubated for 23 to 27 days. While the female handles the incubation tasks, the male usually sits on or near the nesting box.
The young fledge (leave the nest) when they are about 8 weeks old.
Click here for information on how to set them up for breeding.
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