Popular as pets due to their small size, beauty, and intelligence, green-cheeked conures have stolen many bird lover's hearts. Their curiosity, spunk, and playful nature are great characteristics in a pet bird. Mischievous and engaging, green-cheeked conures pack a lot of personality into a small package. The fact that they are less noisy than most other parrots—and more affordable—adds to their appeal.
Common Names: Green-cheeked conure, green-cheeked parakeet, yellow-sided conure, green-cheeked parrot
Scientific Name: Pyrrhura molinae with six subspecies with slight varieties: P. molinae australis, P. m. molinae, P. m. phoenicura, P. m. restricta, P. m. flavoptera, P. m. hypoxantha
Adult Size: One of the smaller conure species, it measures around 10 inches in length and weighs about two to three ounces
Life Expectancy: Can live 30-plus years in captivity
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Origin and History
The green-cheeked conure is native to South America, commonly found in the forests and woodland areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay. It usually lives in flocks of 10 to 20 birds at treetop level or larger flocks where there is more food.
Green-cheeked conures are popular pet birds. They are affectionate and playful and thrive on time spent socializing with their owners. Like all birds, green-cheeked conures can be nippy and uncooperative at times, but as a general rule, they are among the most easygoing of the conure species. Although most never talk, green-cheeked conures do well with training and are known to be fast learners. They can learn to do simple tricks. Most owners say that their big personalities make up for what they lack in the speech department.
Speech and Vocalizations
Although quieter than most conure species, this species can still be a noisy bird, which may pose a problem for apartment-dwellers. Some can learn a few words, but green-cheeked conures are not generally known as great talkers.
Green-Cheeked Conure Colors and Markings
Males and females have identical coloring. Green-cheeked conures display an array of colors in their plumage, sporting bright red feathers in their tails and on their chests, bright green on their backs and the tops of their wings, olive green surrounding the red patch on their chest, a whitish ring around the neck, black plumage on the head, and olive green patches on their cheeks. Their long pointed tail is mostly blue or maroon. They have black beaks and feet and display bare white rings around their eyes.
Several color variations were selectively bred in captivity, including turquoise, yellow-sided, cinnamon, and pineapple conures.
Caring for the Green-Cheeked Conure
While the green-cheeked conure's beauty and brains make it an attractive potential pet, the truth is that not just anyone can properly care for a conure or any bird. Parrots are a big commitment requiring daily exercise and socialization, a continuous supply of fresh foods per day, and space for their sizable cage and flying activities.
A green-cheeked conure may not require the kind of space a larger parrot needs, but provide you will still need an enclosure that is at least 24 inches square and 30 inches high with metal bars spaced 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart. As with any parrot, a bigger cage is always better. Provide several perches at least nine inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter—a variety of perch sizes will help keep your parrot's feet limber.
A green-cheeked conure should do well when paired with other green-cheeked conures, but do not house them with different species of birds. If you house more than one bird in the cage, make sure you increase the size of the cage per bird. The more birds you put together, the larger the cage will need to be.
In its natural environment, the green-cheeked conure lives in a flock. As a pet, it still needs a considerable amount of interaction with you. Expect that your bird may need two to four hours outside the cage for exercise and social time every day.
Common Health Problems
All conures are prone to feather picking, which usually occurs because the birds are bored or neglected. A number of common parrot maladies can affect these birds, such as proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), a nervous system disease; psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), a deadly virus; psittacosis, a bacterial infection; beak malocclusion or beak misalignment; and aspergillosis, a fungal infection. Have your bird checked by an avian veterinarian regularly to catch problems early, while they can be easily treated.
Diet and Nutrition
In the wild, green-cheeked conures feast on fruits, vegetables, seeds, and the occasional insect or two. Pet conures in captivity should have a similar diet. For optimal health, feed your conure a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables supplemented with a high-quality pelleted diet. An easy way to incorporate a variety of fresh foods is to use the chop concept, which involves making a preparing salad mixture in advance.
Exercise is extremely important for green-cheeked conures as it is for all parrots. In the wild, these birds might fly many miles per day in search of food, a mate, or a nesting site. It can be hard to provide the means to duplicate this in captivity, but if you can devote a minimum of two hours per day to supervising your conure during out-of-cage exercise and playtime, your bird is likely to remain healthy and happy. A helpful way to achieve this lifestyle requirement is to get a cage with a play gym on the top of their cage. This can be a safe place for them to expand their wings during supervised exercise time.
Social and friendly
Intelligent, can be taught tricks
Quieter than other parrots
May not be as noisy, but can still get loud and may not be well-suited for apartments
Requires at least two to four hours of exercise, socialization
Where to Adopt or Buy a Green-Cheeked Conure
Before purchasing a conure from a bird store or breeder, check animal shelters and rescue organizations. While the gentle and easy-to-care-for conure is not often up for adoption, there are instances where owners must relinquish their birds. Some adoptions or rescues that may have green-cheeked conures include:
The Beauty of Birds is an organization that maintains a directory of reputable parrot breeders in the U.S. If considering a bird breeder, make sure you interview the breeder, look at the general health of their birds, check out their living conditions, and talk to past customers. Signs you should avoid the breeder include cramped living conditions, inactive birds, and breeders who avoid your questions or do not seem to have much information on their birds.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
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Otherwise, check out all of our other small parrot species profiles.