Conures are one of the most wholesome pet companions you can have. They’re intelligent, bubbly, often comical and most importantly, come in a range of eye-catching colors.
They also have quite a long lifespan – up to 20 years or more; which means you get to enjoy their spunky awesomeness for a little bit more.
Unfortunately, many of the wild species of conure have nearly gone extinct mostly because of environmental changes and to some extent, human activities.
Bad diets, in particular, are a major cause of death to these precious birds and if you have a pet conure, or looking to get one in future, you need to feed it with the right foods to avoid illness and other complications.
So, through this article, I will take you through all the foods you should and shouldn’t feed your conures as well as what steps to take if your bird pet accidentally comes into contact with toxic foods. Sounds good? Ok…
Toxic Food For Conures
Harmful foods that you should never feed your pets include:
Chocolate is a sweet, and relatively beneficial treat for humans but resist the temptation to share a bar with your conure. The reason being that while our digestive systems can fully process the main compounds in chocolate (that is, theobromine and caffeine), birds have difficulties doing so.
Matter of fact, chocolates can induce tremors, hyperactivity and increase heart rate in conures and higher levels may even cause death. If you really want to give your birdie a sugary treat, consider more healthier options, like a ripe banana, or maybe a grape.
Avocado fruits are high in the “good” fatty compounds, which is why it’s such a popular food within the wellness community. However, one component of the avocado plant, called persin, has been seen to have adverse effects on birds, ranging from heart failure to respiratory problems and even death.
Notably, the inner pulp contains lower concentrations of persin compared to the leaves, which explains why it’s considered safe for humans and even some bird types.
However, you may not know how much persin a given avocado contains and how it may affect your conure hence it’s safer to just keep them away from your bird.
Sugary foods like candy are not recommended for humans and it also follows that you should also not give them to your conure.
For one, candies are very high in sugar, fats and sodium, all of which contribute to obesity and can also cause diarrhea and heart problems.
– Fruit Seeds
Fruits are generally safe and healthy for conures – except the ones mentioned here of course – but even so, don’t let your bird eat the seeds.
This is especially important when it comes to fruits like apples, pears, plums, cherries and apricots, as their seeds and pits contain very high levels of cardio-toxic cyanide, which causes death in birds.
If you really want to give some fruity treats, consider grapes, tomatoes, melons, pomegranates and squash, which are much safer options.
While meat is not as harmful to conures and parrots as the other foods in this list are (wild birds eat lots of insects) it is still not advisable to feed it to your bird as you’re likely to overdo it.
Feeding your bird too much meat can promote buildup of fat deposits, leading to obesity, which is in itself a big health risk for parrots.
Cheese, and other similarly fatty foods like butter and nuts, cause health problems in humans, so imagine what they can do to the much smaller conures.
Even the tiniest bites of cheese can clog the birds’ arteries, making them susceptible to heart failure and stroke. And the smaller the bird, the higher the risk.
Peanuts are typically very rich in fats, yet almost deficient in other minerals like calcium and vitamin A. Giving them to your bird promotes fat buildup while not adding any nutritional value to them, which basically leads to malnutrition.
Peanuts, and other seeds in general, are pretty useless when offered as standalone meals, and are better included in more balanced diets.
– Coffee Beans
Coffee beans are rich in caffeine which is considerably more effective (read harmful) to conures than in humans, for obvious reasons.
A few sips of coffee beans may not sound bad to you but the caffeine in it may significantly increase your bird’s heart rate, lead to hyperactivity, and potentially trigger cardiac arrest.
Remember that caffeine is not limited to coffee but is also present in tea, soda and many other beverages, so you may want to stick to only giving clean water.
– Onion and Garlic
They may sound cute and healthy, but onions and garlic are one of the most dangerous foods you can ever feed your bird (or any pet, for that matter).
Onions, in particular, contain lots of sulfur, which is a very potent toxin that can cause anemia and in a worse case scenario, rupture of red blood cells.
Hell, the sulfur composition remains the same whether the onions are cooked, raw or dehydrated so avoid feeding your conure with cooked food containing onions.
Garlic, on the other hand, contains a compound called allicin, which is also toxic to birds like conures. Intake of allicin can also cause anemia or even death in birds.
Admittedly, this chemical is not present in all garlic variants but since you probably won’t be able to tell which ones have it, it is advisable to keep away all garlic from your birdie’s reach.
A lot of mushroom varieties are neither safe for human nor bird consumption and are generally best avoided. Some mushrooms may also be variably toxic – in that they’re toxic at different heat levels, or in different areas, and safe in others.
So, unless you are willing to conduct thorough scientific analysis on every bit of shroom you give to your bird, you may want to just avoid them all.
What Conure Birds Should Eat?
Avian nutritionists recommend feeding your pet conure a diet similar to the one they would take if they were in the wild. In essence, 50-70 percent of the diet should contain pellets, while the remaining 30-50 percent should consist of fresh foods.
You can find a lot of fortified and nutritious pellets at an avian pet shop so you don’t need to worry about that. For the fresh feeds, consider organic veggies (raw or steamed), small amounts of fruite, cooked whole grains like rice, oats, barley and legumes.
For more balanced meals, use the Chop Approach, which involves cooking a bunch of grains, legumes and chopped vegetables then mixing them in a large container, which then goes into the fridge.
Every day, take a serving of the food, warm it, then feed it to your birdie. The whole thing saves you time and ensures that every day, your pet will get the required mix of nutrients and vitamins.
What to Do If Your Conure Accidentally Eats Toxic Food?
If your conure somehow gets in contact with any of the toxic foods mentioned above, you need to swing into action as fast as you can to save its life.
The first course of action, naturally, should be to assess the situation (is the bird still breathing? Any seizures? Is there evidence of hemorrhage? etc), then depending on the circumstances, stabilize the bird and throw away any toxic substances in the vicinity.
Stabilization procedures here may include performing CPR, giving water, controlling seizures, taking the bird outside for fresh air, and so forth.
The next logical step is visit a vet for the necessary tests and evaluation and to get more informed advice on the next steps.
Remember, you should still visit the vet even when your bird shows recovery after your stabilization procedures, as there may still be other unsolved internal problems that you didn’t notice, and which may cause problems later.
A full medical evaluation gives you a more clear picture and helps make timely, and potentially lifesaving interventions.
Taking care of your feathered friend goes beyond providing shelter, companionship and food.
Providing the right types of food is extremely essential to enhancing the bird’s health and lifespan, and subsequently increasing your mutual bond.