White-Eyed Conure (White-Eyed Parakeet)

White eyed parakeet (Aratinga leucophthalmus) couple perching on a branch in front of sandstone rocks. Chapada dos Guimarães near Cuiabá. Mato Grosso. Brazil.
Berndt Fischer/fotostock/Getty Images

The white-eyed conure or white-eyed parakeet is a smallish green parrot that is among one of the better-behaved of pet species. It's less noisy than many other parrots, non-destructive, and more likely to want to talk than to scream. 

Common Names

The white-eyed conure is also sometimes called the white-eyed parakeet.

Scientific Name

The taxonomical name for the white-eyed conure is Aratinga leucophthalmus. There are at least two subspecies, the Argentinia white-eyed conure (Aratinga leucophthalmus propinqua), and the Ecuadorian white-eyed conure (Aratinga l. callogenys). The Argentinia white-eyed conure is slightly bigger, while the Ecuadorian white-eyed has slightly darker plumage and a larger, heavier bill. 

Origin and History

The white-eyed conure is native to northern South America. Its range stretches from Venezuela, Colombia and the Guianas in the north, down across Brazil to northern Argentina and Uruguay. The bird's preferred habitats are forests, woodland areas, savannas, and mangroves. 

The bird was first described and cataloged by the German zoologist Phillipp Ludwig  Müller in 1776. The taxonomical name is derived from ancient Greek words, leukos (white) and ophthalmus (eye).

The white-eyed conure remains plentiful in the wild, even though it is heavily trafficked in the pet trade. The IUCN places it on its red list, meaning it is a species of least concern as regards danger of extinction. 

Size

The white-eyed conure is a medium-sized parrot, normally growing to a size of about 13 inches from the beak to the tip of the tailfeathers. The wings are about 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long. 

Average Lifespan

White-eyed conures in captivity can be expected to live 20+ years.

Temperament

Properly socialized white-eyed conures can make loving and entertaining pets. Although they not one of the noisier parrots, potential owners should be aware that like all conures, these birds have very loud and powerful voices when they want to use them. Because of this, white-eyed conures may not make the best pets for those who live in apartments or condominiums with neighbors immediately adjacent. 

White-eyed conures are very intelligent and must be offered adequate mental stimulation to prevent boredom and behavior problems from setting in. Those interested in owning a white-eyed conure should make sure they can spare at least 3 to 4 hours per day to interact with their pet. Bored pets can become lethargic and demonstrate destructive habits, such as feather plucking. 

White-Eyed Conure Colors and Markings

Adult white-eyed conures have mostly green bodies with patches of red on the head and wings. The insides of their wings also display a random scattering of bright yellow feathers with red tips. The underside of the wing and tail feathers are olive-yellow. The bird can appear to be all green, until the wings open, revealing the flashes of dramatic yellow and red. The eyes are framed with bare white rings of skin, from which the common name derives. White-eyed conures have horn-colored bills and gray feet and legs. 

Caring For White-Eyed Conures

White-eyed conures are striking birds that make excellent pets for the right people. They are highly intelligent and curious parrots, making them eager to explore and prone to getting into trouble when left unsupervised. When properly cared for, however, white-eyed conure owners report these birds are exceedingly loving and entertaining.

A single bird needs a cage of ample size, at least 24 x 24 inches in footprint, and at least 36 inches high. Equip the cage with sturdy perches and toys. Outside the cage, make sure there some kind of playpen where the bird can explore and exercise while flying about the house. In the wild, these birds fly long distances while foraging with other birds, so they need space and opportunity to fulfill this natural instinct when kept as pets. 

Feeding the White-Eyed Conure

Like all parrots, white-eyed conures do best on a diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables and supplemented with a high-quality commercial pelleted diet. A small amount of seed can be offered as for treats, but make sure that your white-eyed conure doesn't get too many seeds in its diet. These birds have a reputation for getting "addicted" to fattening seeds such as sunflower and safflower, and may then refuse to eat anything else. Pay close attention to your conure's diet to ensure a healthy and happy pet.

Offering a regular supply of branches with flowers and buds will provide extra nutrition and satisfy the bird's urge to chew and gnaw.

As with many pet birds, keep chocolate and avocado away from your white-eyed conure; these substances are toxic to them. 

Exercise

Those who own white-eyed conures must make sure to provide them with a safe "bird-proof" out-of-cage area in which they can play and stretch their wings each day. More time is always better, but as a general rule, a white-eyed conure needs a minimum of 3 to 4 hours supervised out-of-cage playtime per day. This is a huge commitment that can last for 20 years or more, so it is important to do plenty of research before bringing a white-eyed conure (or any type of bird, for that matter) home as a pet.

Common Health Issues

The white-eyed conure may be susceptible to Conure Bleeding Syndrome. Symptoms include weakness, loss of balance, and bleeding from the mouth. It usually occurs with stressed birds, especially when they are young. Vitamin supplements and feeding the birds leafy green vegetables may provide the vitamin K necessary to prevent the syndrome. 

Feather-plucking can occur with birds that become bored due to lack of stimulation. Prevent this by spending lots of time playing and socializing with your bird. 

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

If this description of the white-eyed conure interests you, also check out these related bird species: