Small Conure Care Sheet

Maria Zayas, DVM
By Maria Zayas, DVM on Apr. 27, 2023
Green conures

In This Article

FAQs

Conures are a diverse group of small- to medium-sized parrots that are great for first time pet parents. Our conure overview guide provides basic care needs for a range of small conure species, including: 

  • Maroon-belly conures 

  • Dusky conures 

  • Peach-front conures 

  • Greek-cheek conures 

Conures are exceptionally active and intelligent—they love to jump, dance, and climb. They can even be taught to perform tricks! Conures usually enjoy human interaction and benefit from daily playtime, so it’s important to socialize your conure by allowing them time outside their enclosed habitat every day. When your conure is outside their habitat, supervise them closely to ensure they don’t injure themselves or interact with something harmful.

Conure Behavior

Conures may nip or bite at their pet parent on occasion, especially when feeling excited, confused, or threatened. If this happens, don’t yell your conure or give attention to the behavior. This will only encourage repeat behavior. Instead of reacting negatively, put the bird down (in a pet-safe area) and walk away. This acts as a “time-out” for the bird that teaches them biting does not get attention. 

You can minimize the risk of a bite by paying attention to your conure’s body language before approaching or handling it. If the bird has pinned eyes, flared tail feathers, or is lunging at you, the conure may be feeling emotions that could lead to a bite. 

While conures are usually not avid talkers, they’re highly vocal and might not be a suitable companion for noise-sensitive pet parents. Green-cheeked conures are known to be quieter than their other conure cousins, but they still squawk, chatter, and chirp.

Characteristics of Conures

Difficulty of Care 

Intermediate 

Average Life Span 

20+ years with proper care 

Average Adult Size 

9-12 inches from head to end of tail, depending on species 

Diet 

Granivorous (grain-eaters) 

Minimum Habitat Size 

24” W x 24” D x 30”H 

Supply Checklist for Conures

To keep a conure happy and healthy, consider these basic supplies to have on hand: 

  • Appropriately sized habitat (at least 24” W x 24” D x 30”H) 

  • High-quality pelleted conure food 

  • Millet spray (as a treat)  

  • Treats  

  • Habitat paper or litter  

  • Food and water dishes  

  • Perches  

  • Toys  

  • Grooming supplies  

  • Play gym 

  • UV light 

Habitats for Conures

Choosing the Right Enclosure 

The ideal habitat for a green-cheek or similarly sized conure should be at least 24” W x 24” D x 30” H for a single bird. The space between the cage’s bars should be ¾-in apart or smaller to prevent birds from escaping or getting their heads or legs stuck. The habitat should be large enough for the conure to stretch and flap its wings comfortably. Always provide the largest habitat possible.  

You might sometimes find your conure sleeping on its back on the enclosure floor. Don’t worry! This is typical behavior for some species, no matter how alarming it looks.  

Most commercially available conure habitats are made of stainless steel. Homemade habitats or any habitat made with wood or galvanized wire are not recommended. Additionally, avoid including any materials (or toys) made with lead, zinc, lead-based paints, galvanized metal, or other potentially toxic metals. These materials can expose birds to potentially toxic chemicals that may cause serious medical problems if ingested.

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Setting Up Your Habitat for a Conure

Conures are comfortable in average household temperatures between 65 F and 80 F. Always be mindful of extreme temperature changes for your conure as they can be quite sensitive. 

Keep your conure habitat in a draft-free, well-lit area that is not accessible to other pets.

Conures can be raised alone or alongside another conure in the same enclosure. Different species of animals should never be kept in the same habitat. If more than one conure is in the same habitat, introduce the birds to each other slowly and under close supervision to ensure they are compatible. 

Additionally, pet parents should provide conures with a range of safe enrichment toys to encourage physical and mental stimulation. Without adequate entertainment, conures can develop harmful habits like feather-plucking. 

Bedding & Lighting for Conures

The bottom of a conure’s habitat should have a removable metal grate so droppings can fall below the bird’s feet. Line the tray at the base of the habitat with habitat paper or another paper-based bedding. This will help keep the environment clean and minimize dust. 

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Birds need exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light to produce vitamin D in their skin, which enables them to absorb dietary calcium. Glass windows filter out UV light, so placing their habitat next to an indoor window is not enough. Instead, birds can get natural UV exposure by spending time outside in an escape-proof cage each day. Birds should never be left unattended while outside and should not be placed in direct sunlight. 

To supplement UV exposure, pet parents can shine a full-spectrum UV light designed for birds on their conure’s habitat for 10-12 hours each day. Replace lights every 6 months, as their potency wanes over time. 

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Décor & Accessories for Conures

Perches: Conures need perches of assorted sizes, heights, textures, and materials so they can exercise their feet and prevent pressure sores. 

  • Perches should be around ½-in in diameter.

  • If a perch’s diameter is too wide, the bird will not be able to grip it properly. This can lead to falls and other serious injuries. 

  • Concrete, wood, braided rope, and natural branches all make suitable materials for perches. 

  • Sandpaper perches and sanded perch covers are not recommended because they can be abrasive to birds’ feet. 

  • Do not place perches above the bird’s water or food bowl—waste droppings will land there. 

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Toys for Conures

Conures are highly intelligent, energetic animals that need to be entertained with a variety of enrichment toys and attention from their pet parent. Aside from helping the bird bond with its pet parent, encouraging physical activity with toys can help keep harmful habits at bay, including screaming and feather-plucking.  

  • Toys may be made from cardboard, paper, soft wood, or plastic that is too hard for conures to chew off and ingest. 

  • Toys should have a range of colors, shapes, and textures to attract interest. 

  • Rotate toys regularly to prevent boredom. 

  • Toys should not have small parts that can be removed and swallowed. 

  • Ensure that toys are securely attached to the inside of the habitat to prevent injury.  

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Water and Food Dishes for Conures

Dry food, fresh food, and water should all be offered in separate dishes. If more than one conure is kept in the same habitat, then each bird should have its own feeding station to discourage competition. 

  • Water dishes should be large enough for the conure to bathe in. 

  • Dishes should be washed and rinsed thoroughly each day to prevent bacterial growth.  

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Cleaning & Maintenance for Conures

Pet parents should spot-clean their conure’s habitat daily, removing any soiled material and discarded food. Water and food bowls must be washed daily. Substrate, bedding, and habitat liners should be replaced at least once a week (or more often if more than one conure lives in the same habitat). 

Pet parents should only use cleaning agents formulated for pets when cleaning their conure’s cage, as birds’ respiratory systems are sensitive to aerosolized fumes. 

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How to Clean a Conure’s Habitat

  1. Move the conure to a secure environment (such as another habitat or travel cage) in a separate air space. Remove any old substrate, bedding, and accessories from the habitat. 

  1. Use a bird habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution to wash the habitat and any accessories.  

  1. Rinse the habitat and accessories thoroughly with water, making sure to remove any trace amounts or residual smells left by the cleaning agent or bleach solution.  

  1. Allow the habitat and its contents to dry completely before placing new substrate, bedding, and clean accessories back into the habitat. 

  1. Return the bird to the clean habitat. 

Perches, dishes, and toys should be replaced when worn or damaged. Pet parents should swap old toys with new ones regularly to prevent boredom. Birds are creatures of habit and are sometimes stressed by change, so toys should be introduced one at a time. 

Diet & Nutrition for Conures

Conures enjoy a range of foods, including pelleted food, seed, vegetables, fruits, and the occasional treat. Conures should always have access to fresh, clean water. 

Pet parents should never share food from their mouths or plates with their conure. Human mouths have microorganisms that can cause illness in birds. 

A nutritious and well-balanced diet for small conures consists of: 

  • A high-quality pelleted food formulated for conures; a nutritionally complete pelleted food should make up at least 60–70% of a conure’s diet. 

  • Use the manufacturer's instructions to determine how much food should be given daily. Discard any uneaten pellets before each feeding. 

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Vegetables, fruits, treats, and fortified seeds may be offered in limited quantities; treats should not make up more than 10% of a conure’s diet.

  • Conures can eat most vegetables, except onions and garlic. 

  • Most fruits are fine for conures, but don’t offer avocados or any fruit seeds/pits. 

  • Fortified seeds and millet can be fed as an occasional treat; conures remove the hulls of seeds before eating them, so pet parents do not need to give them a grit supplement to help them digest and break down whole seeds.

  • Discard any uneaten fruits and vegetables after 10 hours, as they may spoil and cause infection if eaten. 

Fresh, clean water; water should be changed daily 

Do not allow conures to ingest chocolate, caffeine, or alcohol, as they are all toxic and can cause death or serious illness. Avoid treats that are high in fat, sugar, or salt. 

Grooming & Care for Conures

Pet parents with birds should avoid nonstick cookware and other appliances with a nonstick coating (such as Teflon™). Nonstick coatings have a polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). When heated, PFTE releases colorless, odorless fumes than can kill pet birds if inhaled.  

For pet parents interested in wing clipping:  

  • Wing clipping temporarily prevents a bird from gaining lift and flying away.  

  • A properly performed wing trim allows a bird to sail safely to the ground without lift.  

  • Only a trained professional like a veterinarian or someone who has been taught how to trim feathers should clip a conure’s wing feathers. Improper trimming can cause severe injury.  

  • When done correctly, clipping the outermost “flight feathers” can help keep birds from flying away and becoming injured.  

  • Before trying to trim a bird’s feathers, pet parents should consult an avian veterinarian for help.  

  • Wing clipping must be repeated every few months, as feathers grow back in.   

Bathing: Water dishes should be large enough for the conure to bathe in. Pet parents can groom birds that do not regularly bathe themselves by gently misting them with warm water from a clean spray bottle a few times a week. 

Nail Care: Nails must be trimmed on an as-needed basis, which can range from every few weeks to months. Nails should be trimmed by a trained professional, avian veterinarian, or someone otherwise trained to trim birds’ nails to prevent injury. 

If bleeding occurs, a styptic powder can be used to stop the bleeding quickly. 

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Most birds do not need their beaks trimmed, beaks typically stay in good condition with daily use. Underlying conditions, such as liver disease or deformity from trauma, can cause abnormal beak growth and must be addressed by an avian veterinarian. 

Veterinary Care for Conures

Annual Care

Conures should be examined by a veterinarian once annually. They can be transported in a carrier or small travel cage. Be sure to show your vet pictures of their enclosure at home and their supplies.

Signs of a Healthy Conure

  • Clean, clear, bright eyes

  • Clean nostrils

  • Symmetrical, intact beak

  • Intact, clean feathers

  • Clean feet with strong and equal grip

  • Clean vent/cloaca

  • Full, equal range of motion of wings

  • Consistent droppings

When to Call a Vet

  • Eye discharge

  • Nasal discharge

  • Overgrown beak or fractures to beak

  • Feather plucking, bleeding feathers, uneven feather growth

  • Itching

  • Lack of foot grip and/or falling off perch

  • Foot sores

  • Moist feathers around cloaca or any discharge from cloaca

  • Runny, liquid, or abnormally colored droppings

  • Limping, unwillingness to use a limb or wing, or holding a wing abnormally

  • Loss of appetite

  • Hiding

  • Not vocalizing

  • Constantly fluffed feathers

  • Rapid breathing

  • Head tilt

  • Weight loss

Common Illnesses in Conures

  • Pacheco’s disease (herpesvirus)

  • Polyoma virus

  • Proventricular Dilatation Disease/Wasting Syndrome

  • Malnutrition (typically vitamin A or D deficiencies)

  • Overgrown beaks

  • Heavy metal or teflon toxicosis

  • Cancer

Conure Care FAQs

Are conures good for beginners?

Yes, conures are great beginner pets. They are smart and inquisitive. Once you design a fantastic enclosure and enrichment schedule, daily care is simple and straightforward.

What does a conure need in its cage?

Conure enclosures need to include a variety of perches and swings, a food and water dish, a bird bath (unless you clean them daily elsewhere), and a variety of toys, especially foraging toys.

Do conures bond with one person?

Conures make great family pets because they’re more likely to bond with the household as a whole rather than one person. They are a great balance between the care needs of some larger bird species and the single person dependent personalities of some smaller bird species.

Do conures like to be handled?

Yes! Like most birds they prefer to stand or perch on you rather than have their bodies held but a socialized conure loves time spent in their pet parent’s hands and receiving pets and scratches.

Featured Image: iStock.com/JillLang


Maria Zayas, DVM

WRITTEN BY

Maria Zayas, DVM

Veterinarian

Dr. Zayas has practiced small animal and exotic medicine all over the United States and currently lives in Colorado with her 3 dogs, 1 cat,...


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