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Sun Conure Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

Overview 

Aratinga solstitialis

Originating in South America, sun conures are lively and inquisitive. They are content to be with their pet parents for hours and require daily interaction. There is a color variation called the sunburst conure. These birds have mostly yellow feathers and are slightly larger.

Typical appearance and behavior 

  • Are known for their bold personalities and playful, clownish interaction
  • Are a popular pet bird due to their bright orange and yellow plumage
  • Their feathers don’t reach their full coloration for about two years
  • They have black beaks, white featherless rings encircling their eyes, and long, slender tails
  • Males and females can be hard to distinguish; males tend to have flatter, squarer heads than females and brighter coloration
  • Sun conures like to chew, so ensure they have lots of safe wooden toys to chew on
  • Intelligent and affectionate, they require daily interaction with their pet parents to become properly socialized and kept entertained
  • Known to be very active and loud, with repeated shrill screams, they are not pets for the noise-sensitive
  • Are generally noisier when given inadequate attention
  • Are easy to train and don’t generally select out favorite family members as some other bird species do. Therefore, they make good family pets
  • May learn to speak a few words but are not known for their talking abilities 

Characteristics

Care Difficulty Intermediate
Average Life Span Up to 20+ years with proper care
Average Adult Size 10-13 inches long, head to end of tail
Diet Herbivore
Minimum Habitat Size 30"W x 30"D x 36"H

Habitat

Habitat size

Provide the largest habitat possible for your bird. The minimum habitat size for one sun conure is approximately 30" W x 30" D x 36" H, with metal bars spaced no more than 3/4" apart. Commercially available habitats are generally made with stainless steel bars (either with or without nontoxic coating). Homemade habitats and those made of wood or galvanized wire are not recommended because wood cannot be disinfected properly, and birds can chew on their habitats and ingest potentially toxic chemicals.

Building your habitat

Sun conures acclimate well to average household temperatures between 65°F and 80°F; be cautious of extreme temperature changes. Habitats should be placed off the floor in a well-lit area, away from drafts and inaccessible to other curious pets such as cats and dogs. Conures are very social, so habitats should be placed in an area with lots of household activity. Ensure no habitat parts or toys contain lead, zinc, other potentially toxic heavy metals, lead-based paints or galvanized parts, as these can cause serious medical issues if birds ingest them.

  • PerchesPerches should be 1/2" in diameter. Provide a variety of perch sizes so your conure can exercise their feet and help prevent pressure sores from developing on their soles. Use perches made from different materials, such as wood, braided rope and natural branches, to give your bird their choice of surfaces to stand on 
    • Sandpaper covers on perches are abrasive to the bottom of feet and are not recommended 
    • To avoid contaminating food dishes with droppings, do not place food or water containers directly under perches
  • Toys: Conures are very intelligent birds; foraging toys are important for enrichment and mental stimulation
    • Toys should have a variety of colors, shapes and textures to entice birds to interact with them
    • Toys must be securely attached to the habitat because birds can unscrew the C-clamps that are typically used to hang toys and become injured. Toys should not have small parts that birds can easily pull off and ingest. Without toys and attention, birds can get bored, pick their feathers, scream or develop other destructive behaviors, so be sure to rotate their toys regularly to prevent boredom
  • Liner and litter: A metal grate over the habitat bottom will allow droppings to fall away from birds’ feet and help keep the habitat cleaner. The tray in the habitat bottom should be lined with habitat paper or other paper-based substrate to ease cleanup and minimize dust
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light: Birds need exposure to UV light to make vitamin D in their skin, which enables them to absorb dietary calcium. UV light is filtered out by glass in windows, so placing the habitat next to a window is not sufficient. UV lights designed specifically for birds should shine on the habitat 10 to 12 hours a day and be changed every six months when their potency wanes
  • Bathing: Water dishes should be large enough for birds to bathe in. Birds who don’t bathe regularly can be misted gently a few times a week with warm water from a plant mister to help them maintain healthy plumage

Cleaning your sun conure’s habitat 

Spot-clean the habitat daily, removing discarded food and droppings from perches. Thoroughly wash and dry food bowls daily. Replace substrate or habitat liner at least once a week or more often as needed, especially if the habitat houses more than one bird. Regularly clean and disinfect your pet’s habitat and perches by:

  • Moving your conure into a secure place (such as another habitat or travel carrier) in a separate air space
  • Washing the habitat, perches and toys with a bird habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution, ensuring all trace amounts of habitat cleaner or bleach are washed off so there is no residue to which your bird could be exposed 
    • Do not use any cleaning agents around your bird. Birds’ respiratory tracts are very sensitive to anything aerosolized, and cleaning product fumes can be harmful
  • Thoroughly drying the habitat and its contents
  • Replacing substrate or liner, perches and toys
  • Returning your conure to their habitat
  • Replace perches, dishes and toys when worn or damaged. Rotate new toys into the habitat regularly.

Feeding 

What to feed your sun conure

A well-balanced sun conure diet consists of:

  • Nutritionally complete and balanced pelleted food specially formulated for conures, which should make up 60 to 70% of your conure’s diet, plus smaller amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits and fortified seeds as an occasional treat
  • Clean, fresh water, changed daily
  • Do not feed birds avocados, fruit seeds, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol, which are toxic to birds and can cause illness or death if consumed, and avoid salty, sugary and fatty treats

Things to remember when feeding your sun conure:

  • Fresh food and water should always be available
  • Vegetables and fruits not eaten within a few hours should be discarded
  • Treats should not exceed 10% of total food intake
  • Provide separate food dishes for dry food, fresh food and water. If more than one conure is housed in a single habitat, provide multiple feeding stations to reduce competition
  • Although birds are social and like to eat when their flock mates eat, never share food from your plate or your mouth; people have microorganisms in their mouths that can cause illness in birds
  • Since conures remove the hulls from seeds before eating them, they do not need to be offered grit to grind up food

Sun conure care

Bird pet parents should avoid using nonstick cookware and other appliances with nonstick coating. When heated, these items can release colorless, odorless fumes that can kill birds when inhaled.

  • Pet parents should socialize birds daily daily. Birds need daily time out of their habitats to exercise and get comfortable with their pet parents and families. When out of their habitats, conures must be supervised at all times so they don’t injure themselves or get into anything inappropriate
  • Birds need regular grooming, including nail trimming, every few weeks to months. Nails should be trimmed by a trained person to prevent injury to the bird
  • Beaks should not need regular trimming in most cases, unless they have an underlying condition (such as liver disease) that can cause abnormal beak growth. Birds’ beaks normally maintain in good condition with daily use
  • Clipping the outermost five flight feathers, when done correctly, can help prevent injury or escape. Consult an avian veterinarian on what is best for your bird

Where to buy

Petco sells sun conures in select stores. Call your local location ahead of time to ensure availability. 

Supplies

Habitat mates 

Sun conures can be kept alone to bond with pet parents or in pairs to bond with each other. Different types of birds should not be housed together.

Health 

Signs of a healthy sun conure

  • Active, alert and sociable
  • Eats, drinks and passes droppings throughout the day
  • Dry nares and bright, dry eyes
  • Supple skin on legs and feet and smooth beak
  • Clean, dry vent
  • Smooth, well-groomed feathers

Red flags (Contact your veterinarian if you notice these signs.)

  • Fluffed, plucked or soiled feathers
  • Sitting on the habitat floor for an extended period of time
  • Wheezing, sneezing or coughing
  • Open-mouth or labored breathing and/or tail bobbing
  • Regurgitation or vomiting
  • Runny, bloody or discolored stools
  • Straining to pass droppings
  • Favoring one foot when not sleeping
  • Ocular or nasal discharge
  • Red or swollen eyes
  • Crusty skin around face and feet
  • Persistently closed eyes or sleeping during the day
  • Loss of appetite

Common health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueChlamydiosis (psittacosis or parrot fever) Symptoms or CausesAppetite loss, fluffed feathers, nasal discharge, lime green feces, swollen abdomen, respiratory difficulty, conjunctivitis Suggested ActionSeek immediate veterinary attention.
Health IssueDiarrhea Symptoms or CausesFecal portion of stool (versus solid white urine portion or clear liquid urine) not formed. Multiple causes, from change in diet to bacterial or viral infection to internal parasites. Suggested ActionConsult a veterinarian and ensure proper diet.
Health IssueFeather plucking Symptoms or CausesBird plucks own feathers; may be due to boredom, poor diet, or other underlying illness Suggested ActionConsult a veterinarian and relieve boredom with attention, new toys and more stimulation.
Health IssuePolyoma virus Symptoms or CausesAnorexia, lethargy, weight loss, bruised areas of skin, sudden death Suggested ActionSeek immediate veterinary attention.

FAQs

  • Can sun conures talk? They are not known to be great talkers but can learn to speak a few words
  • How long do sun conures live? Sun conures can live up to 20+ years with proper care
  • Where are sun conures from? Sun conures originate from South America
  • What do sun conures eat? Nutritionally complete and balanced pelleted food specially formulated for conures should make up 60 to 70 percent of the diet, plus smaller amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits, with fortified seeds as an occasional treat. Clean, fresh water should be provided daily
  • How big do sun conures get? Sun conures grow 10 to 13 inches long from head to tail tip.

Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all birds are potential carriers of infectious diseases such as chlamydiosis, always wash your hands before and after handling your bird or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physicians before purchasing or caring for birds and should consider having a pet other than a bird.

Go to cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about birds and disease.

The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, contact your veterinarian as appropriate.