Conures are giant parakeets or tiny parrots native to the western hemisphere. They are similar in size and behaviour to Rose-ringed Parakeets and Australian Parakeets from the Old World. All current conure species are located in Central and South America, with the exception of the extinct Conuropsis carolinensis, or Carolina Parakeet.
Conures, although being huge for parakeets, are light in build, with long tails and short (but powerful) beaks. Conure beaks are generally tiny and usually horn-colored or black. The majority of conure species dwell in groups of 20 or more birds. Conures often consume grain, leading to its classification as an agricultural pest in certain areas.
Conures are as different as African Parrots, making it impossible and erroneous to classify them altogether. Conures are a poorly defined category since they do not now form a natural, scientific grouping. The word conure is currently largely used in aviculture. These birds are often referred to as “parrots” or “parakeets” by scientists. Because of their antics and the way they act, they are known as parrot clowns. (For further information, see Scientific Classification.)
Aviculturists use the name “conures” to refer to just the genera Aratinga and Pyrrhura, as well as many single-species genera and one double-species genus*. These other genera are as follows:
- Conuropsis: Carolina Parakeet (extinct)
- Cyanoliseus: Patagonian Conure
- Enicognathus: Austral and Slender-Billed Conures
- Guarouba: Golden or Queen Of Bavaria Conure
- Leptosittaca: Golden-Plumed Conure
- Nandayus: Nanday Conure
- Ognorhynchus: Yellow-Eared Conure
Aratinga conures, Latin for “small macaw” (ara – macaw, tinga – diminutive), seem to have a more mischievous attitude than true miniature macaws or mini macaws. Aratinga conures are normally bigger, with brighter plumage, and are louder, more outgoing, and more demanding of the two principal conure genera. The Sun Conure and Jenday Conure are two conure species that are often maintained as pets.
Pyrrhura is the other major conure genus. The Green-cheeked Conure is one of the most frequent of these greenish conures. Pyrrhura conures are smaller, duller-colored, and quieter than Aratinga conures. They include practically every conure species with a hyphen in the name, and the bulk of Pyrrhura species names are hyphenated.
Pair of wild Nanday Conures
Outside of the two major genera, the Nanday conure, Nandayus nenday, is the most often maintained pet conure species. Because Nandays are cross-fertile with Jendays and Suns, some researchers feel they should be classified as part of the Aratinga genus. Nanday conures have a unique black head and dark blue feathered wings and tails. They wear a pale blue scarf and vivid orange feathers around their vents and legs. A Nanday’s maturity may be determined by the margins of its black hood: if the hood has a ragged border of brown, the bird is over a year old. Although Nandays are sometimes described as exceedingly loud, it may be more true to describe them as a flock-oriented species, used to making their needs known, issuing warnings for the group, and inquiring about other members of the group who are out of sight. They are also incredibly bright birds that can learn tricks, replicate noises, and develop a limited language. According to one study, they are very adaptive to human encroachment on their territory, although the species’ actual state in the wild is unclear. Flocks of Nanday conures have been seen in the wild in sections of Florida, most notably the west coast around St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
The Golden Conure, also known as the Queen of Bavaria Conure, Guarouba guarouba (recently reclassified from Aratinga guarouba), is coated in brilliant yellow feathers all over save for the green wing-tip feathers and the greyish-horn-colored beak. Golden conures are among the most costly conures to buy and care for, yet many owners believe the advantages justify the costs. In addition to the pet trade, it is one of the rarest Conures in the wild. Many specialists feel that these birds should only be maintained in captivity for breeding purposes.
The Patagonian conure, Cyanoliseus patagonus, is a big conure found in south-central Argentina and Chile’s Patagonia area. The Patagonian conure, drab on top and brightly coloured beneath, has surged in popularity during the 1990s, leading to an increase in illicit imports, which threatens native populations. It is also known as the “burrowing parrot” because of its propensity of breeding in ground holes. Patagonians in captivity are notorious chewers, having been known to chew through furniture and even walls.
The biggest of the Conures is the Greater Patagonian Conure. They learn to converse and typically connect well with others, particularly if hand-reared.
The Golden-plumed conure, Leptosittaca branickii, is a tiny Andean conure that is threatened in its natural environment.
The very uncommon Yellow-eared conure (Ognorhynchus icterotis) of Colombia and Ecuador was never widely cultivated and has never successfully reproduced in captivity.
In recorded history, the Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) was the only parrot species native to the United States. The Carolina parakeet was a highly gregarious bird that lived in large groups. American bird hunters observed that Carolina parakeets would return to grieve the loss of a flock member, making them easy prey. This species was hunted to extinction at the turn of the century because it was considered a nuisance, popular in the pet trade, and had plume feathers coveted for hats.
The term conure is an archaic term that was initially used as a descriptive name for members of the now-defunct genus Conurus, which includes Aratinga and Pyrrhura members.
The parrot order Psittaciformes has a tangle of genera, many of which contain just one species. Psittacines (order Psittaciformes) contains around 353 species of birds divided into two families: Cacatuidae (cockatoos) and Psittacidae (true parrots). The name parrot refers to both the overall order and the Psittacidae subfamily.
All members of the Psittaciformes order have a distinctive curved beak shape, with the upper jaw moving slightly in its joint with the skull and an usually upright attitude. All parrots are zygodactyl, with two toes in front and two in rear on each foot. See also Parrot.
Conures and other New World parrots are often classified as Arinae subfamily or tribe. Internal connections of conures are poorly known, while it is obvious that the Quaker parakeet1, thick-billed parrot, and Brotogeris2 should be included, and are often. Neotropical parakeets, macaws, and other birds are also possible choices. In this classification, “conure” would include members of the following genera:
- Rhynchopsitta: Thick-billed parrot
- Myopsitta: Quaker parakeet
Furthermore, the caiques and hawk-headed parakeets have been considered for inclusion. Caiques and Hawk-headed parakeets are both larger than regular conures and have a distinct tail structure.
1The Quaker or Monk parakeet is technically a conure by virtually any definition, but owing to its popularity in aviculture and originality, it is often regarded to be in its own group. 2Brotogeris are sometimes classed as both conures and parrotlets, and it is unclear whether one, or both, or neither, they belong to. Certainly, the tail structure differs from that of the parrotlets, but the fundamental body anatomy seems to be similar in both groups.
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