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The sun conure, Aratinga solstitialis, is a parrot endemic to northeastern South America. Also known as the sun parakeet, the sun conure is brightly colored with plumage of yellow, green, and blue. These birds can be taught to speak a few words clearly, but their ability to speak is more limited than that of larger parrots. Trapping for the pet trade, hunting for its feathers, and loss of habitat have led to the bird being listed as an endangered species.
An adult sun conure weighs about 4 ounces (110 grams) and is about 12 inches (30 cm) tall. The bird is mostly yellow in color, but has an orange face and belly. The wings and tail have both blue and green coloring, while the bill and the legs are black. The ring around the bird’s eye is gray, but often fades to white if the bird is captive. The juvenile sun conure is mostly green, with the more colorful plumage developing as it matures.
The male and female birds are nearly identical. They reach sexual maturity at about 2 years. The birds can live to be 25 to 30 years old. The female bird lays four to five eggs that she incubates for about 23 days. The male bird usually sits near the nest, but doesn’t help incubate the eggs. He does help to feed the babies after they hatch.
The sun conure is found in savannas, coastal forests, and at the edges of humid forests. They are native to Roraima in Brazil, southern Guyana, and southern Suriname and southern French Guiana. The birds usually live in groups of up to 30 individuals. Their diet consists of fruits, berries, and nuts. They have a loud squawking call and can mimic humans.
Popular as pets, the sun conure breeds readily in captivity. They are known for alerting their owners with their shrill call if they notice something out of the ordinary. While they bond with the people who interact with them regularly, they may be wary of strangers. These playful birds enjoy toys and are noted for their jumping, curiosity, and hanging by one foot from the tops of cages while swinging back and forth.
While relatively healthy, the sun conure is prone to some illnesses common in captive birds. These include aspergillosis, psittacosis, and psittacine beak and feather disease. The birds are also susceptible to conure bleeding syndrome.
We had a pet sun conure for years, and it was the prettiest bird I ever saw. She came straight from some reputable sun conure breeders I met at a convention once. They not only sold me the bird, but they also provided me with important sun conure information and training. I'd strongly urge new owners to do some homework before investing in a sun conure parrot. That bird will hopefully be in their lives for a very long time, so it's essential to understand their diet and their health issues.
My sun conure lived for nearly 18 years, but she developed some respiratory problems and passed away while under a vet's care. I'd also say that sun conure owners need to locate a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets, especially tropical birds.
I wish a sun conure wasn't so expensive. I'd own one tomorrow if I could afford it. The local pet store has one for sale for around $349, and they sometimes take him out of the cage and let me hold him. I've had smaller birds before, but I think a sun conure is the perfect size for me. This one always seems to be in a good mood, and I like that in a pet.
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