The Conure Handbook
Are you conjuring up plans to bring a conure into your home? Playful, curious conures can certainly make life interesting! Conures are considered the comedians of the parrot world. Many conure owners have observed their birds dancing back and forth or mimicking the movements of humans. These witty, charismatic birds are experts at drawing-in laughter from their human companions!You may notice that conures can vary quite a bit in size as you research this specific variety of parrot. Conures can range in size from about 10 inches to 20 inches. They are easily identifiable by their long tail feathers and distinctive eye-rings. These beauties are native to South America. Wild conures can often be found in savannas, forests and palm groves throughout Brazil, Guyana, Paraguay, Venezuela, Argentina, and Chile. This means that they are used to eating varied, rich diets full of natural berries and roughage. We'll talk more about adopting a pet conure's diet to satisfy some of those natural eating and foraging instincts you're going to observe. Seeing one conure does not mean you've seen them all! There are about 100 different species that fall under the conure umbrella. Here's a list of some of the popular varieties that you may encounter as you search for a conure to call your own:Being the parent of a conure means playing the role of a conversationalist, cuddle partner and dietitian! It's very important to provide your conure with a rich and appropriate diet. A conure's intake needs can vary depending on lifestyle. Conures undergoing physical growth or molting may require extra nutrition. Also, a conure that seems especially active may need more food than a conure that appears to be less active. We'll be discussing more the specific ways you can provide a healthy conure diet in just a moment! One important thing to know is that conures can be prone to feather picking. This can be a troubling behavior to witness in your bird. It is so important to make sure you're providing your conure with a stimulating environment that offers plenty of opportunities for play, movement, and exercise. Conures are also known to be susceptible to something called proventricular dilatation disease (PDD). Some signs that may present in a bird with PDD include weight loss, poor appetite, weakness, muscle wasting, tremors and passage of undigested food in feces. It is unlikely that your bird will have PDD. However, you should always schedule regular checks with an avian veterinarian for your conure. Conures are also known to be more susceptible to something called psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) than other birds. Signs include beak deformities and abnormal feathers.Are conures allowed to eat carbohydrates? The answer is that carbohydrates certainly do have a place in a conure's diet. However, you'll want to keep the number of carbohydrates that your conure gets from people food to a minimum! Fruits and vegetables can be great for providing some healthy carbs. You can also fit in some carbohydrates using whole grains. Things can be tricky when you select grains for your conure. Many bird treats and mixes containing grains are sourced from crops that are covered in pesticides and dangerous contaminants. Luckily, we use an organic whole-grain base for our mixes that are free from pesticides or harmful contaminants. Go ahead and serve up some organic quinoa, organic cracked wheat, organic couscous and organic hulled millet without any worries!Conures like a crunch! Conures enjoy tasty, uncooked vegetables as snacks. The good news is that most vegetables are appropriate for conures. Kale, cabbage, and zucchini are especially like by conures. As much as 30 percent of your conure's diet can be made up of vegetables.
What should I consider before buying a conure?A conure is truly a companion. These jovial birds also happen to be quite intelligent. This high level of intelligence means that conures crave attention and interaction. It will be your job as a conure parent to provide stimulation. The effort is more than worth it when you consider that you'll be rewarded with a petite parrot with tons of personality! Many people are attracting to conures because these birds tend to be less noisy than other parrot types. You don't have to worry about loud squawks or constant chatter when you bring a conure into your home. That doesn't mean that they are silent! Some conures can train to speak. A conure is also a popular choice because this bird is typically less expensive to purchase than other types of parrots. You're getting that big parrot personality in a smaller package! The color patterns of the conure cause many people to describe this bird as a miniature macaw. Conures certainly measure in small when compared to many other parrots. However, they still require dedication, attention, and work. One of the first things you'll need to focus on is finding an appropriate cage for your new conure. Try not to go any smaller than a cage that is 24 inches deep by 24 inches tall. One thing to know about conures is that they like to snuggle! You may find that your conure enjoys nestling under your chin. However, you can't be there to snuggle your bird all the time. You can cultivate a cozy environment inside your cuddle-loving conure's cage by providing a piece of soft fabric or washcloth to serve as a security blanket of sorts. Your conure may also appreciate a soft toy. There's no shame in babying your conure a bit! Conures can be spooked by loud noises easily. Using a square or rectangular cage that is positioned with one side against a wall or corner can give your concur a sense of security. Avoid keeping your conure in your kitchen. Cooking smells and fumes from household appliances can harm or disturb conures.
What else do I need when considering a conure?
Should I be concerned about what my conure eats?Diet is going to be the key to your conure's happiness, health, and longevity. A conure can live for up to 35 years if it enjoys an ideal lifestyle and diet. Conures are slightly prone to obesity. That means you're going to have to be vigilant about offering balance. Besides, it is known that conures are more likely to suffer from deficiencies in vitamin A and calcium than other birds. A conure needs and craves a well-balanced, varied diet. Consistency is important. The playful, comedic personality of your conure may trick you into thinking that you're making your bird happy by feeding it treats and table food. However, you are just providing some short-term fun that can create very poor long-term results. You're probably going to bump into the temptation to feed your conure a seed-heavy diet pretty early on. What could be wrong with filling food that your conure seems to love? The reality is that an all-seed diet can lead to a sluggish, miserable bird pretty quickly. Dr. Vanessa Rolfe shares this regarding seed diets: “Seventy to 80 percent of the problems I treat in birds are due directly or indirectly to inadequate diets. Seeds are high in fat and deficient in many other nutrients, including amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. An all-seed diet can be associated with a long list of medical problems.”
What exactly does my conure naturally eat?Let your mind wander to a scene of a lush, green South American forest that is covered by a light mist and canopy of trees. The ancestors of your little conure would have been playfully dancing on knotty branches high above the ground with things like berries, seeds and tropical vegetation in their beaks. Your goal is to provide a diet that is as close to this as possible. Of course, you're going to have limitations because you don't live in a forest! The good news is that you can recreate a natural diet using varied, nutrient-dense foods that are made especially for conures. One thing that is important to realize is that your pet conure doesn't need the same menu that a wild bird would need to thrive. It is important to focus on finding pet bird food for a non-wild bird to ensure that your conure is getting the right mix. The big difference between a wild and non-wild bird is that a non-wild bird needs far less fat and sugar! A bird in the wild would be constantly moving and foraging for food. Even a playful, curious pet conure who's on the move quite a bit could never match the activity level of a wild conure. Unfortunately, the seeds that we feed our birds as part of the American diet offer much less nutrition than the wild seeds they'd be nibbling on in the wild.
What should I feed my conure?A conure can thrive when provided with a high-quality bird mix that is tailored to meet the nutritional needs of parrot-sized birds. That doesn't mean that there isn't any room for fresh food in a conure's diet. You actually can provide regulated amounts of fresh fruits and leafy greens to keep your conure healthy and satisfied. 30 to 50 percent of your conure's diet can come from fresh foods.
How much does a conure eat?Birds will eat between one-half and one-fourth of their body weight daily. The fact that conures vary so much in size means you'll need to do the math based on your conure's body composition. Most conures are going to fall somewhere between 60 grams and 120 grams in weight. That means you'll typically be provided between 30 grams and 60 grams of food for your conure daily. You can measure accurate daily portions for your conure using a digital scale.
The problem with all-seed dietsIt is so important to discuss the role that seeds will play in your conure's diet. Many people use the fact that conures eat seeds in the wild forests of South America as a license to pour heaping piles of seed all day long! Conures indeed eat seeds in the wild. However, the idea that non-wild conures need to be eating lots of seeds is based on a big misunderstanding. The big misunderstanding surrounding seeds is fueled by the fact that conures love seeds! You can pretty much guarantee that your conure will be very pleased when presented with a heaping pile of seeds. You may even mistake your conure's enthusiasm for seeds as a good sign. The reality is that you may only be a few weeks or months away from some pretty serious health consequences. Upper respiratory disease, fatty liver disease, and atherosclerosis are all connected with the overuse of seeds with non-wild birds. Fat is a big reason why seeds aren't ideal for conures. Most seed mixes available out there contain nuts. One thing to know about conures is that they will happily pick out all of the nuts and high-fat tidbits in any seed mix. That's because "fatty" usually means "tasty" to a conure. There's another reason to be suspicious of seed mixes if you have a conure. Many mainstream mixes that you can pick up at pet stores are very likely to contain genetically modified (GMO) seeds. The troubling thing about most GMO seeds is that they are grown to be used in cooking oils. You're asking for trouble in terms of short-term and long-term health issues for your conure when you go with a seed mix full of high-fat nuts and GMO ingredients. Did you know that Bird Street Bistro only offers pet bird food made with organic and all-natural ingredients? Our yummy mixes are designed to keep your conure dancing for a long time to come!
Nuts, legumes, amino acids (proteins) and essential fatty acids (fats)Don't mistake the need for balance in your conure's diet as a condemnation of fats! Your conure certainly does need good fats and protein in its diet. A conure in the wild would be getting protein naturally from things like insect larva, nuts, and legumes. Of course, your bird would be working very hard for every protein-rich calorie. How can you deliver some of those same nutrients without worrying that your conure's diet will shift out of balance? Our Tropical Feast on the Fly offers many of the ingredients that your conure might encounter in the wild, many of which contain good doses of Vitamin A which your conure needs. Why not treat your comedic conure to an oh-so-good helping of this mix containing whole grains, crunchy almonds, coconut, carrots, mango, and sun-ripened pineapple? We never use fillers, additives, sugar, salt or artificial ingredients in our tasty, organic bird mixes.
Carbohydrates for conures
The problem with an all-pellet dietYou may have been given the advice to load up on pellets now that you'll be bringing a conure into your home. Unfortunately, you've been given some bad advice. An all-pellet diet can be disastrous for a conure. This type of diet can box your conure in on a dietary level. A pellet diet is simply too uniform and free from variety to offer what conures need to thrive and stave off harmful health conditions. The real hidden danger of an all-pellet diet is that it deprives your conure of the ability to satisfy its foraging instinct. This is no small thing. Foraging plays a key role in keeping conure content and stimulated. All parrots flourish when they are free to pick through food to undress seeds from husks. A manufactured pellet provides no opportunity for foraging. You might call pellet nutrition without a soul. The bad news is that birds often display a variety of behavioral issues after being forced to consist of all-pellet diets. Vitamin D and iron toxicities are also common with all-pellet diets. Many bird owners unknowingly compromise the health of their beloved companions by providing them with all-pellet diets. Pellets can seem attractive to busy pet owners because they are so easy to pour. What's more, pellets require less cleanup following meals because there aren't any husks or shells to deal with. It is so important to avoid being tempted by convenience! Choose to pamper your bird with freshly prepared mixes instead to cultivate health and happiness!
Conure food FAQ:Can conures eat bananas? Bananas are totally fine for conures to eat! Can conures eat strawberries? Tasty, juicy strawberries are great for conures. Can conures eat peanut butter? Peanut butter often has high levels of salt, fat, and sugar. Also, the sticky nature of peanut butter can be problematic for the smaller beaks of conures. It is recommended that you avoid giving your conure peanut butter. Can conures eat watermelon? Watermelon can be very refreshing for a conure. Can conures eat crackers? Skip the crackers to avoid introducing unneeded fats and carbohydrates. You can certainly speak with your avian veterinarian regarding specific cracker options. Can conures eat in the wild? A pet conure needs a diet that is designed for non-wild birds. Trying to introduce your conure to the idea of eating in the wild can create food confusion and malnutrition. Choose conure food and parrot food for non-wild birds instead! What do I do if my conure flies away? We hope this day never comes! Stay close if your conure manages to fly away. Simply leaving your conure's cage out in the open to discover could encourage your bird to return. Your conure may also respond to your voice.
List of fruits for conuresConures enjoy many every day and tropical fruits. Many of the tasty fruits that you like to eat can also be enjoyed by your conure. It is important to manage portion sizes when feeding fresh fruits to your conure. Cut fruit into slices or chunks to make feeding time easy! Here’s a list of popular fruits that are okay for conures:
- Fresh pineapple
- Juniper berries
- Kiwi fruit
- Rowan berries
- Mandarin oranges
- Hawthorn berries
- Wild elderberries