Sun Conure Care Sheet

Maria Zayas, DVM
By Maria Zayas, DVM on Jul. 24, 2023
Sun conure on perch

In This Article


Sun Conure Species Overview

Stunningly colorful in both plumage and personality, sun conures are small members of the parrot family known for their bold, playful temperament. Adding a sun conure to your home is a long-term commitment—with proper care, they can have a lifespan of 20 years or more! 

As juveniles, sun conures have olive-green feathers that change to a mixture of yellow and orange at around 6 months. Sun conures reach their full coloration within about 2 years. Male and female sun conures are incredibly similar in appearance and can be difficult to distinguish without blood testing. Compared to females, male sun conures tend to have slightly flatter, squarer heads and brighter feathers. 

Sun conures are known for their shrill, harsh, and repetitive screams and may not make the best companions for noise-sensitive pet parents or those living in small places. Like many birds, sun conures tend to be noisier when they aren’t given adequate attention and exercise. 

Pet parents should socialize their sun conure by allowing them time outside their enclosed habitat each day. While outside of their habitats, birds must be supervised to ensure they don’t injure themselves or interact with something that could harm them. 

Conures may bite or nip at humans on occasion, especially when feeling excited, confused, or threatened. Pet parents should not yell at a conure if it bites them. By giving attention to the behavior, they will encourage it and increase the chance of it happening again. Instead of reacting to the bite, they should put the bird down (in a pet-safe area) and walk away. This acts as a “time-out” for the bird that teaches them that biting does not get attention. 

Pet parents should always pay attention to a 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. 

Sun Conure Characteristics 

Difficulty of Care 


Average Life Span 

Up to 20+ years with proper care 

Average Adult Size 

10–13 inches long, from head to end of tail 


Granivorous (grain-eater) 

Minimum Habitat Size 

30” W x 30“ D x 36“ H 

Sun Conure Supply Checklist

To keep a sun conure happy and healthy, pet parents should have these basic supplies on hand: 

  • Appropriately sized habitat (at least 30” W x 30“ D x 36“ H) 

  • High-quality pelleted conure food  

  • Millet spray as a treat  

  • Cuttlebone/millet holder   

  • Treats  

  • Habitat paper, other paper, or litter  

  • Food and water dishes  

  • Perches of assorted sizes 

  • Toys  

  • Mister spray bottle  

  • Bird nail trimmer 

  • Play gym  

Sun Conure Habitat

Choosing the Right Enclosure 

The ideal habitat for a sun conure should be at least 30” W x 30” D x 30” H for a single bird. The space between the cage’s bars should ideally be ¾-in apart or smaller to prevent the bird from escaping or getting their head 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. 

Most commercially sold habitats are made of stainless steel. Homemade habitats or any habitat made with wood or galvanized wire are not recommended. These materials can expose birds to potentially toxic chemicals that can cause serious medical problems if ingested. 

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Setting Up Your Habitat 

Sun conures are comfortable in average household temperatures between 65–80 degrees F. Pet parents should be cautious of extreme temperature changes. 

Keep habitats in a draft-free, well-lit area that is not accessible to other pets, including cats and dogs. Make sure that no habitat parts or toys are made with lead, zinc, lead-based paints, galvanized metal, or other potentially toxic materials. All these materials can cause serious medical issues if ingested. 

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

Bedding & Lighting 

The bottom of a conure’s habitat should have a removable metal grate so droppings can fall below the bird’s feet. Pet parents should line the tray at the base of the habitat with habitat paper or other 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 so they can 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. UV lights should be about 12-18" from where the bird perches. Replace lights every 6 months, as their potency wanes over time. 

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Décor & Accessories 

Perches: Conures need perches of assorted sizes, heights, textures, and materials so that they can exercise their feet and prevent pressure sores from developing. Perches should be around ½-in in diameter. If a perch’s diameter is too wide, the bird will be unable to grip it. 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 cause painful abrasions on the underside of a bird’s feet. Gravel-coated perches should also be avoided because they are abrasive to birds’ feet, and birds can pick off the gravel and ingest it. 

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

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Toys: Sun conures need toys and daily attention from their pet parent to stay physically and mentally stimulated. Foraging toys are an important addition to any conure’s cage, offering both entertainment and exercise. Without adequate stimulation, bored birds can develop harmful habits, like 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. 

Fabric toys, like soft-sided huts, should be avoided as they have threads that conures can pull loose and entangle themselves in, causing injury or even death. Toys should have a range of colors, shapes, and textures to attract interest. 

Ensure that toys are securely attached to the inside of the habitat. Birds can unscrew the C-clamps that are commonly used to hang toys if they aren’t secured properly, which can lead to injury. 

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Water and food dishes: Dry food, fresh food, and water should all be offered in separate dishes. If more than one sun conure is kept in the same habitat, 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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Sun Conure Cleaning & Maintenance

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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To clean a conure’s habitat, take these steps: 

  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. 

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

  3. 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. 

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

  5. 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. 

Sun Conure Diet & Nutrition

Sun conures enjoy a range of foods, including birdseed, food pellets, 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, and other table foods should be offered in limited quantities (not more than 30% of the total diet), with treats (including seed) not making up more than 10% of the total diet. Conures can eat most vegetables, except onions and garlic. Most fruits are fine for conures, but pet parents should not offer them 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 break down whole seeds.

Pet parents should be sure to 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. 

Sun Conure Grooming & Care

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 or someone that 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 accidentally 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: Most sun conures will preen themselves if water is present, so 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 will not need to have their beaks trimmed as they should 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. 

Sun Conure Veterinary Care

Annual Care

Conures should be examined by a veterinarian once annually. They can be transported in a carrier or small travel cage and pictures of their enclosure at home and all their supplies can be shown to the vet as part of the examination.

Signs of a Healthy Sun 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 Sun Conures

  • Pacheco’s disease (herpesvirus)

  • Polyoma virus

  • Proventricular Dilatation Disease/Wasting Syndrome

  • Malnutrition (typically vitamin A or D deficiencies)

  • Overgrown beaks

  • Chlamydiosis

  • Heavy metal or Teflon toxicosis

  • Cancer

Sun Conure FAQs

Can sun conure parrots talk?

While they are able to speak, sun conures aren’t as chatty as some other common pet birds and usually only maintain a limited vocabulary. It is common for individual sun conures to never mimic any words.

Why do sun conures scream so much?

Sun conures are incredibly social birds. They have a natural instinct to communicate vocally with their family, but in a home setting this can translate to screaming for attention. Maintain enough enrichment for a sun conure to prevent boredom.

Do sun conures like to be held?

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

What not to do with a sun conure?

Do not leave sun conures alone without regular daily attention, feed them unhealthy or toxic foods, leave all the same toys in their cage with no rotation, or expose them to respiratory diseases or toxins such as overheating Teflon.

How long do sun conures live?

Sun conures can live up to 30 years in captivity.

Where are sun conures from?

Sun conures are South American, specifically from the northeastern corner of the continent such as Brazil.

Featured Image:

Maria Zayas, DVM


Maria Zayas, DVM


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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