Sun Conures

Kelly Roper
Pet sun conure on owner's shoulder; © Pat Lalli | Dreamstime.com

Energetic, comical, loud, and beautiful; all of these words describe the magnificent sun conure. These birds can live up to 30 years with the right care, but you should know that they are much more demanding than the average parakeet or finch. Sun conures are boisterous, affectionate, and even a bit destructive if you don't channel their energy into acceptable activities. If you think you're up for the challenge, a sun conure just might be the greatest bird that ever owns you.

A Healthy Diet for a Sun Conure

According to Doctors Foster and Smith, a healthy sun conure diet consists of about 65 to 80 percent pellets, 15 to 30 percent vegetables, and about 5 percent fruits.

  • Pellets: Pellets formulated for conures supply rounded nutrition in every bite. Keep them available at all times.
  • Vegetables: Choose organic vegetables, and wash and chop them. Try kale, carrots, peas, corn, yams, and broccoli. Sprouts are also very nutritious.

  • Fruits: Organic fruit is best if it's available, and the fruit should be washed before chopping. Try apples (no seeds), bananas, mangos, pears, and pomegranates.

  • Nuts: Organic almonds and walnuts supply fatty acids. Offer a couple of shelled nuts each day as healthy treats.
  • Eggs: Eggs provide extra protein. Offer a little cooked egg with some vegetables, or add a teaspoon of commercial egg food to the pellets.
  • Seed mix: Keep seed mix to a minimum, and be especially careful about feeding sunflower seed since it's high in fat. You can offer a teaspoon of conure or cockatiel seed mix about three times a week.

Be sure to remove uneaten fresh foods after several hours so they don't have a chance to spoil. In addition to feeding a correct diet, you should also provide your pet with unlimited clean water.

Proper Housing

The following guidelines will help you set up the right type of environment for a sun conure.

Cage Specifics

Lefeber Vet recommends housing a sun conure in a cage that is at least 20" L x 20" W x 36" H and has bar spacing between one-half to three-quarters of an inch wide. However, you can provide an even larger cage in order to have room for a lot of toys and sufficient perching areas. If the cage has a play top, that will give your pet another area to play while he's out of the cage.

Door locks are a must with conures because they are highly intelligent and will figure out how to let themselves out of the cage if you give them the opportunity.

Perches

Sun conure on a natural branch perch

The minimum perch diameter for a sun conure is about three-fourths to one and a half inches, so offer several hardwood perches of varying widths in this range. It's also a good idea to place one cement conditioning perch in the cage to help keep your pet's nails from growing too long.

Cage Accessories

  • Cage cover: Like all pet birds, sun conures need about 10 to 12 hours of sleep, and they need complete darkness to do it. Drape your pet's cage with a dark sheet or a fitted cage cover at bedtime.
  • Water bottle: Suns are messy, and they leave a lot of food and droppings in their water dishes. Providing a water bottle will keep their drinking water clean. Check it several times a day to make sure it doesn't run dry.
  • Swing: Every sun should have a swing to play on. Try to select one that also has wood blocks for chewing.
  • Birdbath: These birds absolutely love to bathe, and they'll happily splash around in a birdbath or bowl of water placed in the bottom of the cage. Give them the opportunity to bath every day.
  • Toys: Your sun's cage should be equipped with a variety of toys to keep him active and busy. Consider a foraging toy, a wooden toy for chewing, a ladder for climbing, an acrylic toy that will last longer than his wooden toys, and perhaps a chew toy made of vegetable-tanned leather. Toys ensure a stimulating environment, so be sure not to skimp on them.
  • Cuttlebone or mineral block: These items provide minerals and can also keep the beak from over growing.

Cleaning

Sun conures leave a lot of droppings, so it's important to clean your pet's cage on a regular basis.

  • Line the bottom of the cage with newspaper, and discard it and replace with fresh paper every other day.
  • Wash your pet's food and water bowls every day. If you use a water bottle, empty it, clean it with a bottle brush, and refill it with fresh water every day.
  • Once a week, wash the bottom of the cage and wipe down the cage bars with a bird safe cleaning solution, such as Poop-Off, or a mixture of white vinegar and water.

Out of Cage Time

Sun conure hanging out with gold capped conure

Even the best cage is still a cage. Give your conure at least a couple of hours of supervised time out each day so he can exercise his wings and spend time with you.

Tamed suns love to cuddle with their special people and check out everything they do. Some will even lay down and fall asleep in their owners' laps. Suns also get along well with other conures, and they'll often hang out together when they have the opportunity.

Before you let your pet out of his cage:

  • Make sure all windows are closed.
  • Confine other pets that might injure your conure.
  • Let other family members know so they don't open any doors your pet could fly out of.

Health Care

Lefeber Vet recommends an annual check up, including a physical exam, a complete blood work up, and testing for a number of common diseases, including polyomavirus, beak and feather disease, and psittacosis.

Take your pet to the vet immediately if you ever notice any signs of illness, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Changes in the droppings, such as very wet and/or foul-smelling droppings
  • Sitting with feathers fluffed up for long periods

Great Birds, but Not for Everyone

Sun conures are not the ideal pet for every bird lover. Their tendency to screech loudly makes them unsuitable for apartment dwellers, and it can try even the most loving owner's patience. These birds demand a lot of attention, so they're also not the best choice for someone who is seldom at home. If you're serious about getting a sun conure, spend time visiting breeders so you can get an idea of what life with one of these birds is really like. Remember that you'll be committing to a lifetime of care, so don't take that commitment lightly.

Sun Conures