Popular as pets due to their small size, beauty, and intelligence, green-cheeked conures have stolen many a bird lover's heart in recent years. Their curiosity, spunk, and playful nature make them interesting and entertaining pets. Mischievous and engaging, green-cheeked conures pack a lot of personality into a small package. The fact that is less noisy than most other parrots—and more affordable—adds to the appeal.
The green-cheeked (or green cheek) conure also is known as the green-cheeked parakeet, the yellow-sided conure, and green-cheeked parrot.
The taxonomical name for the green-cheeked conure is Pyrrhura molinae, a member of a genus that features a number of parrot species with smallish bodies and long tails. There are at least six subspecies:
- P. molinae australis
- P. m. flavoptera
- P. m. hypoxantha
- P. m. molinae
- P. m. phoenicura
- P. m. restricta
Of these, the ones most commonly sold as pets are P. m. molinae, P. m. australis, and P. m. restricta.
Origin and History
The green-cheeked conure is native to South America, found in the forests and woodland areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay.
One of the smaller conure species, the green cheek conure normally measures around 10 inches in length from the beak to the tip of the tailfeathers. Adults weigh 2 to 3 ounces.
The green cheek conure can live 30+ years when well cared for in captivity.
Packing a lot of personality into a pint-sized parrot, green-cheeked conures have exploded in popularity as pets in recent years. They are known to be affectionate and playful with their owners, thriving on time spent socializing with them. Although quieter than most conure species, this can still be a noisy bird and may be a problem for apartment-dwellers. Some can learn a few words, but green-cheeked conures are not generally known as great talkers. However, most owners will tell you that their personalities more than make up for what they might lack in the speech department.
Green-Cheeked Conure Colors and Markings
Wild 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 finally, olive green patches on the cheeks. The long pointed tail is mostly blue/maroon. They have black beaks and feet and display bare white rings around their eyes.
Males and females have identical coloring.
A number of color variations have been selectively bred in captivity, including the so-called 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 everyone has what it takes to own a conure or any bird. Before bringing a green-cheeked conure home, do plenty of research to make sure that you will be able to accommodate the needs of your new companion. Can you afford a spacious birdcage, and do you have room for it in your home? Do you have extra cash to set aside in case of emergency vet visits? Can you commit two to four hours a day to supervise and interact with your parrot during out-of-cage play and exercise? If you can't answer these questions with an unwavering "yes," then chances are a parrot is not the right pet for you.
In its natural environment, the green-cheeked conure typically lives in small flocks of 10 to 20 birds, and in captivity, it still needs a considerable amount of social interaction—which must be provided by the owners. Those who are able to provide for the needs of a green-cheeked conure receive a loving and devoted little pet in return. Many people who keep green cheek conures decide that no other bird species will do—these little birds really do steal hearts.
Before purchasing a conure from a bird store or breeder, make sure to check animal shelters and rescue organizations. While the gentle and easy-to-care-for conure is not often put up for adoption, there are instances where owners are forced to relinquish their birds.
A green-cheeked conure does not require the kind of space a larger parrot needs, but you should provide an enclose 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 9 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter—a variety of perch sizes will help keep your parrot's feet limber.
Green-cheeked parrots do well when paired with another green-cheek, but do not house them with different species. Two birds will, of course, require a much larger cage.
Like all birds, green cheeks can be nippy and uncooperative at times, but as a general rule, they are among the most easy-going of the conure species. Although most never talk, green-cheeked conures do well with training and are known to be fast learners. This willingness to learn plays a big role in the green cheek's popularity today.
Feeding the Green-Cheeked Conure
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 optimum health, feed your conure a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, supplemented with a high-quality pelleted diet, and give chop a try to make life easier for you and healthier for your bird. Doing so will provide your conure with the best foundation for lifelong health and happiness.
Exercise is extremely important to green-cheeked conures and 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 play time, your bird is likely to remain healthy and happy.
Common Health Issues
All conures can be prone to feather picking, which usually occurs because the birds are bored or neglected. A number of common parrot maladies can affect these birds: conures are prone to Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD), Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), psittacosis, beak malocclusion, and aspergillosis.
Have your bird checked by an avian veterinarian regularly to catch problems early, while they can be easily treated.