Blue-Crowned Conure (Sharp-Tailed Conure): Bird Species Profile

Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

Blue-crowned Parakeet (Aratinga acuticaudata)
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The blue-crowned conure is classic in many ways, but this medium-sized parrot is slightly quieter and gentler than most of its conure cousins. This green bird with the bright blue head and spiked tail is a gentle, clever, playful creature that can make a great pet. This kind of parrot has even starred in two movies: "Pauly" and the documentary "The Parrots of Telegraph Hill."

Species Overview

Common Names: Blue-crowned conure, blue-crown conure, blue-hooded conure, blue-capped conure, blue-crowned parakeet, sharp-tailed conure

Scientific Name: Thectocercus acuticaudatus. There are five subspecies with varying color combinations: Thectocercus acuticaudatus acuticaudatus, Thectocercus acuticaudatus haemorrhous, Thectocercus acuticaudatus koenigi, Thectocercus acuticaudatus neoxenus, Thectocercus acuticaudatus neumanni 

Adult Size: 14 to 16 inches

Life Expectancy: Up to 30 years with proper care

Origin and History

Blue-crowned conures are native to South America with a range that extends from eastern Colombia to northern Argentina. Their preferred habitat includes savannah-like grasslands, woodlands, and forest margins. You will not find it in dense, humid forests. 

Temperament

Blue-crowned conures are known for being intelligent birds full of playful energy. Like all parrots and conures, in particular, the blue-crowned conure needs a lot of mental stimulation and exercise to prevent it from becoming bored and restless.

These birds are very affectionate, social creatures. They bond strongly with the owner who treats them well and gives them the attention they crave. Blue-crowned conures rarely bite, which makes them a suitable pet for families with children. 

Highly trainable, you can teach conures to retrieve items, turn around, and wave. The best strategy for successful training is ignoring bad behavior and rewarding good behavior with attention and treats.

However, there is no training that will turn this naturally noisy bird into a quiet one. If upset or excited, it can scream and shriek, which is not a good situation for apartment living. Attempts to scold the bird when it screams will only make it louder. 

Speech and Vocalizations

Blue-crowned conures are a bit quieter than other conure species, but no conure is a quiet bird. This species will be quite noisy in the morning and evening, which can create problems with close neighbors.

In general, conures do not talk as much as other types of parrots. However, the blue-crowned conure ranks as one of the better conure talkers. They are capable of learning several words and short phrases.

Blue-crowned Conure Colors and Markings

Males and females are identical in color and pattern. When born, the blue-crowned conure has a reddish head. It changes to bright blue by the time it reaches maturity. In addition to its signature parakeet green body and blue head, blue-crowned conures have reddish tips on their tail feathers, pink legs and feet, horn-colored beaks, and white rings around their eyes.

To tell a male apart from a female, use a genetic test. The physical difference is hardly noticeable, if at all. Males may have larger white eyepatches than females, and the feathers of their ceres (above their nostrils) tend to be longer.

Caring for the Blue-Crowned Conure

This is not a bird you should plan to leave confined to a cage all of the time. The blue-crowned conure is a highly social bird that spends its time in a flock when in the wild. In captivity, you will need to serve the function of its flock mate.

If you are not around much during the day, a blue-crowned conure may be happier when it has another bird as a companion. It may also be happier if you leave a television or radio playing when the bird alone in the house. 

Conures are unique parrots in that they like to snuggle under things, such as a tightly woven washcloth, a soft piece of fabric, or a small blanket. It might even want a bird tent as a place to sleep.

In the wild, conures bathe daily. In captivity, they need a bath at least weekly, and more often if possible. Frequent bathing will keep the feathers and skin healthy. Wet your bird under a spray mist of lukewarm water; it counts as interaction time with your pet. 

Common Health Issues

All conures can be prone to feather picking, which usually occurs because they are getting insufficient attention and stimulation. Spend time talking to your bird, train it tricks or learn to speak, and provide a rotating crop of toys to prevent your bird from getting bored.

The blue-crowned conure, like its cousins, is also susceptible to a variety of common bird diseases, including:

  • Proventricular Dilatation Disease: a condition that can affect the nervous and digestive system
  • Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease: an immunological disease affecting the beak, feathers, nails
  • Psittacosis: a bacterial respiratory infection
  • Aspergillosis: a fungal respiratory infection

Diet and Nutrition

In the wild, blue-crowned conures typically feast on a varied diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, and grains.

Conures in captivity need an equally varied diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetable greens, and high-quality pellets. Pellets should be about 75 percent of their diet. Offer about a 1/4 cup of pellets a day and watch how much your parrot consumes. Offer more if necessary. Most conures eat about 20 percent of their body weight. Pet conures fed a high-fat diet of only seeds and nuts often have health issues.

Offer fresh foods once or twice a day. Give them as much as they will eat. Remove the uneaten foods after the feeding period. Early morning is usually the most active meal time; these diurnal birds are generally hungry after a long night's rest. You can also try feeding again right before dusk. Birds in the wild naturally forage for a final meal before they tuck in for the night.

Warning

As is the case with many birds, chocolate and avocado are toxic to conures. 

Exercise

Blue-crowned conures have a naturally high energy level. They prefer being out of the cage, interacting and talking with you throughout the day. Be prepared to give your bird at least 3 to 4 hours of supervised time out of the cage each day. Provide a freestanding play structure somewhere outside the cage for the bird to stretch its wings. During this period, give it the essential social interaction that it craves from you.

If you will not be releasing the bird from its its cage much, give it a spacious enclosure (36-by-36-by-36 inches) and fill it with toys that it can chew. Toys will help your bird get some exercise and stimulation. If you do not provide it with chewable toys, your conure might find less desirable items to chew, such as wires, furniture, and woodwork around the house.

Pros

  • Social and friendly

  • Intelligent, can be taught tricks and to speak

  • Kid friendly, not much of a biter

Cons

  • Can get loud; may scream or shriek when excited, bored, or alarmed

  • Requires at least 3 to 4 hours of daily exercise and socialization

Where to Adopt or Buy a Blue-crowned Conure

The blue-crowned conure breeds readily in captivity and is one of few parrot species that is relatively easy to find in pet stores and from breeders. You can expect to pay from $1,000 to $2,000,

To adopt, rescue, or buy a blue-crowned conure, check out these online resources:

If you're going the breeder route, ask how long they have been breeding and working with the species and tour their facility. When perusing their inventory, looks for signs of overall good health of the flock. The birds should be active and alert with bright eyes, clean feathers, and full crops.

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar species, check out:

Otherwise, check out all of our other medium-sized bird species profiles