Conures as Pets: Pros & Cons
Conures have big personalities for such small birds. They are smart and interactive, but are also more prone to behavioral problems than the more common, smaller cockatiels or budgies. Conures require committed care takers who will work with them to guide their behavior." Below are some pointers ...
They love to play!
They are very active parrots that like to play, explore and chew. Lots of toys are recommended to keep their beaks from "getting busy" on your furniture.
- Toys can also be things that I bet you never thought were toys at all! Please refer to the foraging page for easy, inexpensive or FREE tips to entertain your pet.
They are Smart!
Most will hold their own with any of the mid-sized or medium-large parrots in terms of smartness. They can be taught simple tricks pretty easily and more complicated tricks with some training.
How much attention do they need?
Like all parrots, they are social birds. They do require daily interaction with their social group, entertainment, things to do -- or else they will become bored and develop behavioral problems. In the wild, they would never leave the company of their flockmates. In a captive pet situation, a hand-fed conure requires the same social interaction from you and your family.
If you have little time to give, a parrot would not be a good choice for you. You would need someone at home several hours a day at a minimum, preferably someone should be home most of the day. I would recommend that there be people at home, with the bird, for at least several hours every day or the majority of day.
It's best to keep your pet conure where the center of activity is, usually the family room, and leave the cage door open or allow your pet to be on a playpen whenever someone is at home. During this time some direct interaction should be provided, such as talking to your pet, petting it, or placing it on your shoulder while you surf the internet, watch tv or go about your other activities. My parrot even joins me in the gym!
Do they make good family pets?
In general, conures make good family pets as long as they have been well socialized. They don't mind a lot of activity - in fact, the more "fun stuff" is going on, the more entertained and happier they tend to be. They usually get along well with all family members, although they are likely to eventually choose a favorite; but as long as they are exposed to, and socialized by, other family members, they should maintain their friendliness with the others. Conures love to be touched and handled - another reason why they often do well with kids.
However, they go through nippy phases that can be hard on children as well as on adults. Teaching the child appropriate handling of the conure will help prevent some painful experiences - however, it will never entirely eliminate them. The tamest pet bird gets startled and bites - without this being a true reflection on its personality. It's a natural reaction. Experienced pet owners learn to read the body language of their pets and can avoid most of these "accidental encounters." Training is important to prevent an accidental bite from turning into a behavioral problem.
It is difficult to instruct smaller children on proper parrot handling, and their interactions with the conure should always be supervised. But children who have learned to handle the conure gently and confidently usually don't have a big problem with aggression. How well the child-parrot interaction goes really depends on the maturity level of the child, as well as the proper socialization-level of the parrot. Admittedly though, some genetics come into play as well. Some individual parrots are more aggressive than others. Often this is a family trait and one parrot pair produces sweet babies, while others produce nippy offspring. Sweet babies can turn nippy, if not socialized well, and nippy (usually nervous / fearful birds) can be taught to be good family pets. Birds do pick up on stress and anger that we humans may feel and this can impact their personality and likelihood to be aggressive towards us. It is always best to approach a bird calmly and focus on, and enjoy, the interaction with the parrot rather than reflecting on problems in your life. Doing so will actually be conducive to your own health, as it will help you relax.
There never will be a guarantee that a meaningful relationship between the children in the family and the pet parrot develops and if things don't go well, the conure may end up being a pet for the adults only. For this reason, it is not recommended to buy a parrot as a pet for the kids - this needs to be a family pet, with the adults taking on most of the responsibility.
Conures, albeit their smaller size, do present their challenges, and they are not the best "starter" birds, although some species are easier to keep than others. It really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
Conures are known for their loud and harsh calls, which is a natural way of communication and social interaction and shouldn't be "trained away" -- however, they can develop into excessive screamers, which really requires early intervention.
Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation. Behavioral challenges that conures present include:
- Excessive Chewing: Any parrot will chew. In nature, they use their beak to "customize" their favorite tree, to enlarge the size of their nest in a tree hollow. Doing this keeps their beaks in good condition. The problem is excessive and undesirable chewing. Undisciplined conures will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. The owner needs to provide plenty of "healthy" chewing opportunities (bird toys, natural wood branches, etc.) and training is necessary to teach your pet what is "off-limits."
- Biting: Conures can become nippy. Like most parrots they are likely to discover their beaks as a method of "disciplining us" once they are out of the "baby stage." It really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
- The "Noise" Factor: Along with other Pyrrhura conures, they are only moderately loud, therefore making acceptable pets for apartment dwellers for the most part. However, these conures can still be noisy enough to potentially upset the neighbors of apartment dwellers or annoy those that are sensitive to noise. Like other conures, they tend to express excitement with a series of loud, shrill screams.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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Training and behavioral guidance will help your pet be the kind of companion you want it to be ...
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