Are Conures Parrots? How Are Conures Classified?

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Conures make some of the most fun pet birds to keep. They’re inquisitive, lively, and love to entertain their audience. If anything, conures don’t seem to mind parading around while dancing or hanging upside-down, for hours! These and many other antics are some of the traits that have made them so popular with bird enthusiasts.

But are conures real parrots? Yes, they are! Though they aren’t normal parrots. But like all parrots, conures possess zygodactyl claws, with the different toes facing opposite sides (two forward, two backward) to allow for holding onto food, perches, and other items. Not only that.

Conures have small, curved, mighty beaks for crushing nuts and seeds, just like parrots. However, many experts consider conures to also be parakeets. Which is mainly due to their small size and long tail feathers. You see, there’s a difference between parrots and parakeets.

Parrots tend to be bigger in size with relatively shorter tail feathers. Which then begs the question…

Why are these Parrots Called Conures?

The term “conure” was originally used by aviculturists to describe members of the ‘defunct’ genus Conorus, which consists of numerous gaudy American parrots under the subfamily Psittacinae.

This subfamily has about 45 species (previously grouped as Conorus) currently placed in 7 genera including Aratinga (Bright Macaw) and Pyrrhura.

Mind you, not all species under these genera were originally referred to as “conure”. Some were more often called parakeets. Which is why up to today, many bird keepers term “conure” can mean either the small parrots or the large parakeets found in the Western hemisphere.

In fact, ‘conure’ today represents a diverse, loosely defined grouping of medium- to small-sized parrots. And although it has appeared in several scientific journals, this term is used mostly in the bird keeping world.

Conures currently consist of several genera under the subfamily Arinae. These are New World parrot or Neotropical parrot group consisting of 150 species under about 32 genera mostly found throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean Islands, and Mexico.

Conure vs Normal Parrot – What’s the Difference?

Take note that both conure and parrots belong to the Psittaciformes- a large bird order that also consists of parakeets, cockatoos, and macaws.

As you would expect, this is a diverse bird family consisting of over 350 different species. The Psittaciform order has three subgroups, among them Psittacoidea. Both parrots and conures belong to this group.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t have differences:

The Parrot

In any case, the name ‘parrot’ is a general term referring to birds of the Psittaciodea family. These birds come in various forms, with sizes ranging from 3.5 to 40 inches. Yes, parrots include all birds from large macaws to small parakeets.

And when it comes to their specific characteristics, all parrots feature a cere around their nostrils, grasping feet, as well as unique bills. Also, all parrots prefer to live in gregarious groups. There are arguably no visual differences between female and male parrots.

What’s more, parrots can produce sounds that vary greatly. From many distinctive vocalizations to short squawks and melodious songs, parrots use these sounds, together with moving their tail feathers, to communicate with other members within their flocks.

And despite their complex behaviour, parrots exhibit lifetime monogamy and have a great capacity for learning, on top of being extremely intelligent and social. You’ll find parrots in a myriad of habitats, ranging from the urban jungle to the desert.

The Conure

Rather than having more square-shaped tails and stockier bodies like their cousins the ‘normal’ parrots, conures feature tapered tails and slender bodies.

They are also intelligent, dynamic birds with delightful personalities and talents for mimicry and comic antics. If anything, some experts consider them the clowns of the parrot family.

They are in many ways like miniature versions of Macaws, though they still possess the attractive qualities of larger parrots. Not only that.

Conures come with truly exquisite colouring. Depending on where they originate from, you can find conures of shades like grey, orange, red, white, etc. all mixed with their basic green.

Conures live in flocks of 10 to 20 birds, mostly at the treetop level of forests or woodlands.

Do Conure Parrots Talk?

In as much as conures have excellent talents in mimicry, their capacity for mimicking vocabulary isn’t as extensive as that of normal parrots.

Nonetheless, they can learn to say a few phrases and words. But their signature sound is a high-pitched screech they emit whenever they feel startled, excited, or are in need of attention.

In fact, many owners make the mistake of promoting that screech by answering to their pets every call. Only to end up with extremely noisy houses.

Are Conures Good for Beginners?

Yes, most conure species are an excellent option for anyone who’s never owned a pet bird before. Take green-cheeked and maroon-bellied conures for example. These birds are small, full of personality, affectionate, and relatively quiet. No wonder they make for excellent family birds.

All the same, conures demand attention and if you play with them enough, they’ll reward your efforts with cuddles, tricks, and a few spoken words. Therefore, a conure will suit you best if you’re a beginner who’s ready to commit time to it. Or someone with family or friends who have parrots.

The best part is that conures aren’t as expensive as some normal parrots. If you choose to buy a green-cheeked conure, ensure to get it cage accessories and toys to ensure it doesn’t get bored. These birds are quite playful and will need to interact with different things if they are to stay happy.

Do Conures Get Along with Other Parrots?

Yes, conures do get along with many other conures as well as other bird species including parrots. In some cases, you can house conures in the same cage with other same-size (or smaller) birds. Though you can’t really tell if a specific conure bird will get along with its cage mate. It’s all trial and error.

As such, ensure that you have separate cages for different types of birds you’ll keep. Don’t forget to train and constantly expose conures that you want to house together. Otherwise, they won’t get along.

In Summary

In as much as the parrot family exhibits minor variances across species, virtually all its members call for a substantial investment of money, attention, and time from their human companions. It’s important to note that parrots, including conures, are long-lived animals whose life span is about 10 to 80 years.

Which why keeping these feathery friends requires significantly more commitment when compared to keeping traditional pets. All the same, conures are definitely worth the buy. Try keeping one and see for yourself.

Conures - Updated: October 19, 2020

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