Conures are wonderful pet birds that are members of the parrot family. The word “conure” means cone tail. Small to medium sized conure parrots are found in the new world, throughout the central and southern regions of the Americas.

Conure parrots are distinguished by their slender bodies and tapered tails, rather than having the stockier bodies and more square-shaped tails found on larger parrots. These dynamic birds are full of energy, very attractive, and make wonderful pets. Conures are very intelligent, they are enjoyed for their delightful personalities, high energy, and comical antics. Being some of the most colorful and playful parrots, they are definitely one of the clowns of the parrot world.

Conures have all the great qualities of the larger parrots and in many ways are like miniature versions of the Macaws. They are found in many sizes and colors. Their beaks are powerful, they have large heads, and they are adorned in bright colors. They are delightful comics, acrobatic, very social, and having talents for mimicry. A Conure parrot is a good choice for those wanting to step up from a Budgie or Cockatiel but not quite ready for the commitment of a large parrot like a Macaw, African Grey, or Cockatoo.

Being very outgoing and social, a conure parrot will quickly adapt to its new environment and cage. Because they are smaller parrots, they require less space and are generally less expensive than large parrots. Depending on size, in a good environment they can live up to 15 years for a smaller conure parrot, or up to about 35 years for the larger species. They love attention and make wonderful pets, but can be very vocal.

The bird guides for each type of conure provides in-depth information about living with them. Housing, care, and feeding requirements are covered along with each bird’s behaviors and activity needs. Tips for handling and training conures are also included, along with breeding information.


Conures are very smart parrots and make affectionate pets!

Austral Conure

austral conure on a branch
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Enicognathus ferrugineus ferrugineus

Blue-crowned Conure

blue crowned conure in the wilderness
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Aratinga acuticaudata

Dusky Conure

Dusky Conure
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Aratinga weddellii

Golden-capped Conure

golden-capped conure
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Aratinga auricapilla aurifrons

Green-cheeked Conure

Green-cheeked conure at the zoo
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Pyrrhura molinae

Half-Moon Conure

Half-Moon Conure
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Aratinga canicularis

Jenday Conure

Jenday Conure
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Aratinga jandaya

Mitred Conure

Mitred Conure Side Profile Portrait
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Aratinga mitrata

Nanday Conure

Nanday Conure
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Nandayus nenday

Patagonian Conure

Patagonian Conure side view on the branch of the tree
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Cyanoliseus patagonus

Peach-fronted Conure

Peach-fronted Conure
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Aratinga aurea aurea

Queen of Bavaria Conure

Queen of Bavaria Conure bird
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Aratinga guarouba

Red-masked Conure

Red-masked Conure
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Aratinga erythrogenys

Sun Conure

a colorful sun conure bird on a branch
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Aratinga solstitialis

White-eyed Conure

White Eyed Conure
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Aratinga leucophthalmus

Conure History

Conure parrots have been kept as pets for over a hundred years, and possibly longer. The first Conures were found throughout Latin America from Mexico, through the Caribbean, to southern Chile. A missionary in the colonies of the West Indies, French priest Jean Baptiste Labat, first described them in literature in 1724. He drew pictures of a species of bird he called Aratinga labati from the island of Guadeloupe, and it is believed by some that he may have kept it as a pet.

It was in the 19th century that European explorers and naturalists began further expanding the knowledge of birds and many other creatures. A romantic period ensued where birds became highly favored by British nobility and royalty. The late 1800’s saw volumes of literature on all sorts of exotic birds and parrots. Conures began to be imported into the Europe and the United States. Interest in parrot keeping continued in the United State throughout the 1900’s. A few species, including the Green Conure, were bred in the 1930’s. In the 1960’s even more species began to be produced in captivity, including the Sun Conure.

Concern for many species threatened with extinction resulting from deforestation and habitat destruction began to arouse concern around the world. In 1979 Herbert R. Axelrod, a renowned tropical fish expert and publisher of pet books, attended a meeting sponsored by the United Nations on endangered species. There he proposed that birds be placed in captive breeding to prevent the extinction of many rare species as being a sensible approach to the problem. This helped open the doors to importation of many parrot species previously not available. Only Australia persisted in not allowing exportation.

Parrots of all types arrived in abundance into the United States. The latter 1900’s saw a large increase in aviculture and captive breeding. Today, although bird importation is greatly restricted, many Conure species are successfully bred in captive and readily available.

three Sun Conure birds
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What Are Conures?

Conures are new world parrots, meaning they are native to the Americas. The term Conure refers to several genera of small to medium sized, long-tailed parrots found from Mexico and Central America down through South America. There are many different types of conures found in this vast region, and they live in a diverse range of habitats from the tropical to the subtropics.

It can be confusing to understand the difference between a parakeet and a conure. Actually there is really no difference between a parakeet and a conure, as both are long-tailed, small parrots. The term conure simply means these are parakeets from South and Central America, particularly those found in the genera Aratinga and Pyrrhura.

Here is a more in-depth explanation of these two terms: Parakeet and Conure

The name “Parakeet”

Parakeets are a huge group of birds. These are small parrots consisting of many different unrelated species found across the globe from Australia to Asia, the subtropics of Africa to Central and South America. Parakeets belong to the Order Psittacine (or Psittaciformes) of hook-billed birds. Under this order they are part of a large Family known as Psittacidae, or “True Parrots” and placed in the subfamily Psittacinae of “typical parrots and allies”. The Psittacinae subfamily itself consists of 7 tribes, and within each of these tribes are many familiar parrots besides parakeets and conures, they also include Macaws, African Greys, Amazon parrots, Lovebirds, and more.

Parakeet is a term that refers to a small to medium sized parrot. They range in size from the smaller ones being only about 7″ (18 cm) while the largest reach up to 18″ (45 cm) in length from the top of the head to the tip of the tail. One of the distinguishing characteristics of this group of parrots is the tail. Parakeets have long, tapered tail feathers which are about half of their body length.

The name parakeet can be confusing. This is a term used in aviculture, it is not a scientific name nor a representation of their taxonomy. In fact, there is no scientific designation, which recognizes the size of a bird as important enough to make it a “natural” group – scientifically. It is a common designation with a lot of latitude. You will occasionally find a larger parakeet species called a parakeet, while at the same time others will refer to it as a parrot, and both are correct.

The name “Conure”

The name conure originated from Conurus. Conurus is an invalid scientific name formerly given to the Aratinga Genus. This is a large conure genus that contains very popular parrots like the Sun Conure and the Jenday Conure. Conorus comes from the Greek words cone (cone) and ourus (tail-bearing). It is not used today.

Many refer to the small to mid-sized long-tailed parrots found in the New Worlds as Conures, and this is used most commonly in aviculture. Others refer to them as South American Parakeets. Some parrots in the conure group are commonly referred to as either a conure, or as a parakeet, and both are correct. In the scientific world, Orthinologist call them parakeets.

Although all conures can be considered parakeets, several varieties of parakeets found in the Americas do not belong to the conure group. We have followed the designations ascribed by Joseph M. Forshaw, author of “Parrots of the World”, putting those he calls Conures here and those he designates as Parakeets in their own group.

two Cinnamon Green Cheek Conures Eating
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Facts about Conures

There are many types of conures, and they vary widely in size, coloration, and lifespan. The smallest conure is the Painted Conure Pyrrhura picta which ranges from 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 inches (21.5 – 24 cm) in length. The Patagonian Conures Cyanoliseus patagonus sp. are the largest conures, reaching up to 17 3/4 to 19 inches (45 – 48 cm).

The average life span of conures is really unknown on most species. It is known that conures live longer in captivity than they do in the wild, and larger birds live longer than smaller birds. In general, small conures can live up to about 15 years, while some of the larger conures have been known to live for 35 years or more.

This is a large and diverse group of parrots. Although each species has it own unique characteristics, there are some common features all conures share.

Characteristics found in all types of conures:

  • In general, conures have slender bodies and long, tapered tails. Yet some varieties have short tails that become narrow at the tip, while others have long, slender tails.
  • The colors of conures can be very rich with the plumage of each species having its own color palate. Colors can range from rich greens to brilliant yellows, reds and oranges, and into the whites and browns.
  • Conures have broad heavy beaks of black or light horn color. Use of their beak is multi-faceted. They have a hooked upper bill that they use to climb, hold things, or to dig. They also use their beak to chew, break seeds, and peel fruit.
  • Conures have a fairly broad cere at the base of the beak.
  • Almost all Conures have a clearly defined eye ring, with the females generally having a somewhat narrower ring than the males.
  • Each type of conure has its own set of calls, but they are generally harsh and can be loud. These are all fairly intelligent parrots and many can learn to “talk”.  Many are quite adept at mimicking sounds they hear and some will repeat words, phrases and even whistle.
  • All types of conures are naturally active and will stay very busy. They will always be climbing and flying from perch to perch. They will intently chew on toys and anything else that they can reach.
two sun conures on the branch
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Types of Conures

The conure structure here follows the designations put forth by Joseph M. Forshaw, author of “Parrots of the World”. Most of the living Conure species are found in the Aratinga and Pyrrhua genera, with a smaller number found in five other genera. There are an additional four genera that are sometimes referred to as Conures by other sources as well, as in the “Lexicon of Parrots”. We have included them below as well, but the bird guides for these species will be found in the Parakeets section, see: Types of Parakeets

Types of Conures – by genera:

  • Aratinga Conures
    There are many conure birds in the Aratinga genus, it contains about 25 species and many subspecies. This genus also includes some of the most popular conures, such as the Sun Conure Jenday Conure. Peach-fronted Conure, Red-masked Conure, Mitred Conure, and more. Aratinga Conures are found across a large area of Central and South America, from Mexico to central Argentina as well as in the West Indies. Within this huge range, their habitats vary from tropical rainforests to savannahs, deserts to semi- deserts, and from mountains to sea level.
  • Nandayus Conures
    The Nandayus genus consists of one species, Nandayus nenday. It has a variety of common names including Nanday Conure, Nanday Parakeet, Black-hooded Conure, and Black-masked Conure. The Nanday Conure is native to southeastern Bolivia, southern Mato Grosso, northern Argentina, Chaco Formosa, and Paraguay. It has also been introduced into North America, with colonies reported in the southern and eastern parts of the United States.
  • Ognorhynchus Conures
    The Ognorhynchus genus consists of one species, Ognorhynchus icterotis, called the Yellow-eared Conure or Yellow-eared Parrot. It is an endangered species from the western Andes of Colombia.
  • Leptosittaca Conures
    The Leptosittaca genus consists of one species, Leptosittaca branickii, called the Golden-plumed Conure or Golden-plumed Parrot. It is found widely but locally distributed in Colombia, but numbers are in declining due to habitat destruction.
  • Conuropsis Conures (extinct)
  • Cyanoliseus Conures
    The Cyanoliseus genus consists of the nominate species, Cyanoliseus patagonus, called the Patagonian Conure or Burrowing Parrot, and 3 subspecies. It is found in Argentina and Chile, with some migration population found in Uruguay in the winter.
  • Enicognathus Conures
    The genus Enicognathus has two species, and a few subspecies. The familiar conure species are the Slender-bill Conure, Astral Conure, and the Chilean Conure. They are found in Chile, southern Argentina, and the islands in the Strait of Magellan. They inhabit mostly in wooded country, but can also be found in shrubland and farmland.
  • Pyrrhura Conures
    The genus Pyrrhura consists upwards of 22 species and a number of subspecies. This genus includes the smallest conure parrot, the Painted Conure, as well as some other well-known conures including the Green-cheeked Conure, Black-capped Conure, Pearly Conure, Souance Conure, and more. Pyrrhura Conures are found in Panama and Costa Rica of southern Central America and in South America, inhabiting tropical and subtropical regions. Some species are highly endangered.

Other Genera – sometimes referred to as Conures:

  • Rhynchopsitta
    In the genus Rhynchopsitta there are 2 species, called the Thick-billed Parrots.
  • Myiopsitta
    In the genus Myiopsitta there are 1 to 2 species, called the Monk Parakeet.
  • Bolborhynchus
    In the genus Bolborhynchus there are 3 to 5 species, including the Sierra Parakeet B. aymara, Mountain Parakeet B. aurifrons, Barred Parakeet B. lineola, Andean Parakeet B. orbygnesius, and Rofous-fronted Parakeet B. ferruginifrons.
  • Brotogeris
    In the genus Brotogeris there are 7 species and 15 subspecies, including the Plain Parakeet B. tirica, Canary-winged Parakeet B. versicolorus, Grey-cheeked Parakeet B. pyrrhopterus, Orange-chinned Parakeet B. jugularis, Cobalt-winged Parakeet B. cyanoptera, Golden-winged Parakeet B. chrysopterus, Tui Parakeet B. sanctithomae.

   The bird guides for these species are found in the Parakeets section, see: Types of Parakeets

Sun Conure and Green Cheek Conure perched
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Conure Behavior

Conures are very social, active, and outgoing birds. They adapt well to captivity and will adjust easily to their cage or aviary. They are intelligent little birds and are generally easy to tame. These parrots enjoy interaction with people and they also enjoy the companionship of other birds.

Conure parrots are very popular pet birds because of their incredible beauty and personable behaviors. What a joy it is to watch these active, playful creatures. Everything in their cage becomes an object for their pleasure, from pulling up the paper on the bottom of their cage to playing hide-and-seek under it. Then they’ll move on to rearranging their perches and toys.

In nature conures live in flocks or family groups and are very friendly and peaceful birds. They love attention and make wonderful pets, but can be very vocal. Although they can be noisy, they are highly intelligent and so are quick to learn tricks and to talk. Because of their social disposition, many can become finger tamed in just a few weeks. These birds are very hardy and will breed fairly easily in captivity.

Conures also do well when kept in pairs or groups. They live in colonies in the wild, but form monogamous pairs. Once a pair is harmonious, many types of conures will bond with their mate for life. A single bird can become restless or distressed without companionship, and may start demonstrating undesirable behaviors like feather plucking or become depressed. Keeping them with a companion can help avert such behaviors.



Featured Image by: Andrea Lightfoot, Unsplash