PET BIRD CARE
Complete Care System For Conures
By Dr Rob Marshall & Tailai O'Brien
This section has been compiled especially for our clients and looks at the daily life and behaviour of conures, quakers and kakarikis in the wild. From this information you will gain a better understanding of the needs and true potential of your pet conure. A detailed account of our recommended daily and weekly routines for conures is also included in a chart format that you can download for easy reference. These routines give your bird the best possible opportunity to remain happy, healthy and develop its true personality as a companion pet.
Before reading this section you may like to look at the following introductory articles attached to this web page: Diet & Foraging Behaviour of Parrots in Nature and Daily Routine for Pet Birds - Introduction.
Green-cheeked, Sun, Nanday and Janday are the most popular conures kept as pets in Australia.
The name Conure is applied to small to medium sized parrots with long, gradated tails and proportionately broad heavy bills. They have prominent naked or partly feathered eye rings. Surgical or blood testing is required to determine gender because the sexes are alike.
Green-cheeked conures (Pyrrhura molinae) make an ideal pet, as they are small, quiet and sweet natured birds capable of talking. The personality of Aratinga conures - Sun (Aratinga solstitialis) and Janday (Aratinga jandaya) - is loud, energetic and playful. They are also capable of speech but require more care than Green-cheeked conures as they require more exercise and personal interaction to remain happy companions. Nanday (Nandayus nenday) conures also make very good pets. They are playful, noisy and capable of talking.
Conures in Nature
Special Characteristics of Conures
Foods & Foraging Opportunities for Pet Conures
Daily Routine for Pet Conures
Weekly Health & Nutritional Programme
Annual Health Check-up
Conures In Nature
In nature, conures forage as small flocks of between 5-20 birds. Their diet is varied and includes seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, blossoms and vegetative matter.
Nanday conures forage in palm forests on nuts and berries. Green-cheeked conures live in forests but also forage on seeding grasses as well as in the tops of trees. Janday conures forage across forested areas and in coconut palms. Sun conures forage on fruits in forested areas and palm groves.
Special Characteristics of Conures
Conures are small, intelligent birds and make wonderful pets. Green-cheeked conures are quiet and require less care than the other species, which are highly energetic and noisy.
As pets they should be provided with supervised time outside the cage as they are prone to ingesting foreign material that become caught in the bowel and metal fragments that are often poisonous.
Green-cheeked conures require less daily exercise than the other species. Conures should follow a daily routine that encourages development of their natural characteristics and true personality.
Conures forage as a flock or small party spending much of their time feeding in trees. They use their strong beaks to destructively open tree fruits and nuts in search of seeds. They also feed on seeds, berries, blossoms and vegetative matter.
As pets, they enjoy fruit and vegetables that they can dig their beak into. Conures often play/fight over food items in Nature and playtime during meals is also an enjoyable past time for pets.
In captivity, conures require special foraging opportunities throughout the entire day. They require foods that exercise their strong beaks and require time to destruct.
Expect a messy cage at feed time because they are naturally destructive and wasteful.
Foods & Foraging Opportunities
The daily routine of conures kept as pets must provide foraging opportunities that are both time consuming and challenging to ensure they remain occupied throughout the day and are not idle. Because conures are naturally inquisitive birds they should be encouraged to use their beak, tongue, foot and brain during foraging and during their leisure time.
Foods in their natural state are most beneficial and relished by companion birds. In their captive setting, fresh organic human fruits and vegetables are nutritious and they also present foraging opportunities and occupation for conures. Their diet should include a selection of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables coupled with a seed mix.
The recommended core diet for conures therefore includes a seed mix, and fresh fruits and vegetable items that can be prepared in different ways to encourage beak exercise and activity for the muscular tongue as well as foot and claw coordination. Smaller portions of fruit and vegetables cut up into 5mm diameter pieces are ideal for conures.
Conures are highly dexterous with their feet and enjoy uncooked fruits and vegetables as foot toys. Pieces of apple, pear, celery and pumpkin rind cut into larger 1 cm squares make good foot toy foods that they hand up to their beak to eat is the preferred method of food presentation for conures rather than providing the food in a dish which they eat from.
Foraging dexterity builds confidence and inquisitiveness in young birds, creating a strong foundation for life long learning as a companion bird. These items can be served on a stainless skewer, mashed, chopped, diced, cooked, soaked or sprouted to add variety and to suit the textures contained in the natural foods of the different species.
Many of the foraging activities inside and outside the cage provided for conures require supervision because of their highly destructive nature. They like to destroy natural tree branches and may demolish an entire branch in the course of the day.
Human fruits and vegetables as well as seeds however do not provide a complete nutritional balance for pet birds and for this reason an ongoing health programme of added nutritional supplements is essential to vitality and longevity of your conures. Without provision of all the essential nutrients pet birds are prone to over-engorging on foodstuffs and ingesting foreign bodies while searching for depleted nutrients in carpets, power cords etc. Other examples of diet related problems include undesirable behaviours such as feather picking, excessive screaming and aggression, poor feather quality and a lack of energy.
For conures, it is observed in nature that eating and sharing meals is the most important flock/family group meeting time of the day. Happiness behaviours such as tail wiggles, chatting and playful antics are observed during these times. Therefore, the best companion bird feeding routine mimics the morning and evening flock activity of wild birds. It involves providing freshly prepared fruits and vegetables at human meal times, ideally at breakfast time and again as part of the family evening meal.
Eating at the same times as the human family reinforces the pet bird to human bond, and provides essential security and the knowledge that their human carers will return at the end of the day to eat and play again with them. Conures adjust quickly to shared mealtime routines as it is an instinctual behaviour which encourages them to occupy themselves happily during the day time hours when most owners are at work. Following the evening meal, conures enjoy spending time with their owners to wind down for the day.
In the wild, conures spend much of their day foraging in trees individually and in small groups. Individual foraging in the captive setting can be achieved during the day when the humans are away from home by providing a selection of fresh, clean branches and millet sprays as well as a dish of small seeds. This eliminates the need for fruits and vegetables to be left in the cage where they may spoil during the heat of the day.
A final element for dietary consideration is portion size. The amount of food required must be allocated according to the relative size and dietary requirements of the pet bird. Green cheeked conures eat proportionally more seeds than fruit and vegetables compared to Sun, Nanday and Jenday conures which require more fruit and less seed in their diet. Flighted birds require and will use more energy than those with clipped wings. It should be noted that most pet parrots are far more sedentary and require less food than their wild cousins that must spend many hours each day foraging for survival and use strong flight repeatedly during foraging and also to evade predation.
Suggested Daily Routine for Conures
Click here to view our daily routine for pet conures.
Weekly Health & Nutritional Programme for Pet Conures
Pet Conure Annual Health Check-up
We believe an annual health check is an integral part of developing your bird's innate potential as a companion pet, because without good health your bird is unable to respond fully to your affection or concentrate during training sessions. Microscopic testing of droppings (and sometimes other tests) are required as part of this health examination since birds are masters of hiding their illness. As part of the examination, Dr Marshall and Talai will also assess your daily routines and the progress of your bird's intellect. This is a most important part of the annual health examination as it allows us to tailor a programme specific to your bird's individual needs.
During your bird's health check Dr Marshall will examine the progress of your bird's annual moult. This gives a good indication of your bird's overall health as the moult may be delayed or interrupted when an underlying health problem or nutritional deficiency is present. Adjustments to your bird's weekly health programme may be recommended based on your bird's individual needs.
The best time for a health check varies between bird species and sex. February to March is the best time for a health check for conures as this marks the end of the annual moult. A check up may also be required between July and August as Spring breeding behaviour commences at this time.
Dr Rob Marshall and bird trainer, Tailai O'Brien have developed a complete system of care that ensures health and happiness in your pet bird.
Going on holidays? At Carlingford Animal Hospital, we understand the needs of your much loved pet bird and will cater for these during its stay with us.
Dr Marshall and Tailai O'Brien have developed a culture tested bean mix for larger parrots, to provide them with variety and a low Glycaemic Index (GI) food.