What to Know About the Sun Conure

Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on December 01, 2022

The sun conure, also known as a sun parakeet, is a brightly colored and very noisy bird. Sun conures were once common in South America, but they are now considered endangered.

Conures are part of a bird family that includes macaws, parakeets, and some true parrots. Conures are parakeets that have large beaks and long, pointed tails, live in the Americas, and are mostly green in color. The sun conure is an exception with its bright yellow body and red, orange, green, and blue feathers.

Sun conures are considered medium-sized for a bird in the parrot family. Adult sun conures weigh between 3.5 and 4.5 ounces. They average 11.8 inches in length, with a wingspan of around 6 inches. As pets, sun conures need a hanging cage that is at least 6 to 10 feet long.

Males and females are about the same length. Female sun conures often have smaller, rounder heads; smaller beaks; and shorter tails than the males. Males usually look stronger and bulkier, while females tend to have more slender bodies.

Sun conures are born with dull green feathers. They start to molt (lose feathers to make way for new ones) when they are six to eight months old. When their new feathers grow, they start to show some of the brighter colors of adult sun conures. Each time the birds molt, their feathers get more colorful. Somewhere between 18 months and two years old, a sun conure will have its full adult colors.

Adult females and adult males have the same colors. Their body and the top half of their wings are a golden yellow with deep orange tinges on their face and abdomen. The bottom half of their wings are green when they perch, and they have blue feathers you can see when they fly. A sun conure's eyes are dark brown with a white eye ring. Their feet and beak are dark gray or black, although older birds may have paler, peach-colored feet.

In the wild, sun conures live only in tropical regions. They are most common in Guyana and Brazil, in the northeast part of South America.

Sun conures often live on grassland called a savanna, usually near a tall forest. Where possible, the sun conure prefers to live on the edge of a forest or beside a river.

Wild sun conures eat fruit, seeds, nuts, flowers, and sometimes insects. They are fast flyers and travel long distances every day to find food. This makes it important for a pet conure to get plenty of exercise.

Sun conures are very social birds. In the wild, dozens of sun conures flock together to rest, feed each other, bathe, and preen. When a bird preens, it uses its beak to clean and straighten out its feathers.

In their natural habitat, sun conures choose a partner when they are around 4 or 5 months old and mate for life. If you keep just one sun conure as a pet, it may form a very close bond with one particular person. Sun conures need regular social interaction and attention to be happy and healthy.

Sun conures are extremely vocal, meaning that they make a lot of noise. They are especially loud and talkative when they fly, as they call loudly to keep track of each other while they're flying through the trees looking for food. Their call is so high and loud, you can hear a sun conure from miles away.

The sun conure's call has been described as a grating, shrill screech, repeated three to six times. People will sometimes adopt a sun conure because of its beautiful colors then have to rehome the bird because they can't cope with the constant loud noises.

When sitting on a perch, sun conures can also make quieter wheezing and chuckling noises. Even in a flock, they do stop chattering while they eat. When they are feeding, sun conures are unusually quiet for birds. They tend to be wary and won't try new foods unless they see another bird eat the food first.

Scientists don't know how long wild sun conures live. They haven't been studied much in their natural habitat because they live in areas that are hard for people to get to. As pets in the United States, sun conure lifespan is usually between 15 and 30 years.

Smart and curious, sun conures need to learn and explore. Rotate a variety of ladders, swings, and perches in their cage. Give them bird-safe toys made of wood, non-toxic plastic, or vegetable-tanned leather. Some favorites include puzzle toys, foraging toys (they have to figure out how to get a food treat out of the toy), and chew toys.

Sun conures also enjoy taking a bath, so provide them either an overhead mister or a shallow water bowl. When a conure molts, it can be a little grouchy because it feels uncomfortable. Bathing often makes them feel better. Warm, humid air may help them shed feathers more quickly and easily.

Show Sources

Avibase: "Sun Parakeet."
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: "Sun Parakeet."
International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators: "IAATE Resource Center: Companion Parrot."
University of Michigan: "Aratinga solstitialis."
Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation: "Sun Conure."
World Parrot Trust: "Sun Conure."

© 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info