Conures are easily mistaken for parakeets, just as parakeets are often mistakenly grouped as conures. That’s because these species belong to the parrot family and tend to have the same physical characteristics. For example, both birds are surprisingly colorful, vocal, and have long tails.
In fact, conures belong to a large group of parakeets, but that does not mean that all conures are parakeets. It’s okay if this sounds confusing at first. But think this way. All conures are parrots, but not all parrots are conures. In the same way, some parakeets are also double as conures, although not all conures are considered parakeets.
Conures are generally larger than typical parakeets in pet stores, so when you go purchase for one, you may be able to tell the difference in size.
What are Conures?
The term “conure” is a generic term that literally means “cone tail” and is used to describe a diverse group of parrots. Conures are generally small to medium-sized parrots that come in a variety of beautiful colors. They have a slender body with long tail feathers that can range from 10 to a little over 20 inches.
Their strong, horn-colored, or black bill is usually short and broad. Their eyes are surrounded by a ring. In some cases, you can tell females from males by the female’s narrower eye-ring.
Conures are endearing and cuddly, but they can be very loud, especially when they want attention or when they call out to the flock. These are not your typical shy or cautious birds. Instead, conures are bold and curious, making them quickly adapt to new environments. These very sociable birds often enjoy a lot of attention and are generally the life of the party! They are acrobatic and some of the conures have an impressive talent for mimicry.
Unlike some birds that prefer to be touched only on the neck and head, conures enjoy being held and petted all over, making them excellent family pets. They are intelligent birds that can be easily trained and socialized. These attractive birds can also learn a few tricks and even imitate a handful of human words and common household sounds.
Where do conures come from?
All species of conures are native to Central and South America, with some found in Mexico and the Caribbean islands. The only exception is the Carolina conure, which originated in the eastern part of the United States. Unfortunately, it is now an extinct species.
Depending on the species, their natural habitat can vary greatly from farmland, lowland, woodland, or even wetland. For example, some conures are found in the Pantanal regions of Brazil, known as the world’s largest flooded grasslands and the largest tropical wetland area. In other parts of the world where they live on farmland, conures are seen as pests to crops.
Many people tend to imagine a Green-cheeked Conure or a Sun Conure when they think or talk about these lively parrots. Of course, these two are some of the common breeds found in pet stores, but several others have equally amazing personalities.
While it can be fun to have all the pet conures and make great companions, they don’t all have the same behaviors. Choosing one with the traits you like is crucial, as some are more difficult to maintain than others. Remember that you will probably spend most of your life with the breed you adopt. So, take as much time as you need to carefully consider their personalities before making your choice.
Parrots are generally long-lived birds. Conures, in particular, can live between 25 and 30 years on average. Owning one as a pet is a significant long-term commitment.
What are parakeets or budgies?
So you want to buy a budgerigar or what is known as a common parakeet as a pet. There are a few things you’ll want to know about these types of birds that will increase your enjoyment and bonding, as well as help you understand what to expect.
The first thing you might want to know about a parakeet is its scientific name: Melopsittacus undulates. However, most refer to these birds as budgies. Still others know budgies as the common house pet or as a shell parakeet.
There are actually two types of budgies:
- The American budgie
- The English budgie
The American budgie or American Parakeet is the parakeet that is commonly found in pet stores across the country. English budgies are larger and look different from American budgies, and are generally used for shows. Both types are members of the same species: Melopsittacus undula.
Most Americans don’t realize that the word “parakeet” can actually refer to any type of small parrot with long, flat tails. Budgies are related to a number of different birds, most notably fig parrots and lorises.
Here are some of the different names that parakeets are known by:
- Shell parakeet
- Canary parakeet
- Scallop parakeet
- Zebra parakeet
- Warbling grass parakeet
- Hooded parakeet
- Golden shoulder parakeet
There are a large number of different types of parakeets and a large number of color variations of parakeets. The varied and attractive colors of a parakeet are just one reason these birds are so popular.
Add to this the natural grace, intelligence, friendliness of the parakeet, and the fact that they can be easily tamed, and you can quickly see why they are so popular as pets.
Another reason why parakeets or budgies are one of the most popular domestic avian pets is their ability to learn tricks and imitate sounds, even words like conures. They love attention and are very sociable with their own kind and with people. And let’s not forget the main reason why they are so popular: they are so cute!
What do budgies look like?
Budgies, which have been easily bred for hundreds of years, come in hundreds of colors and a variety of species. The typical budgie or parakeet is bright green on the chest with its wings a mixture of green and black. In their natural habitat, green and black act as camouflage to protect the parakeet.
The variation of the plumage color of a budgie can be quite striking and beautiful. It is not uncommon to see shades of blue, white, gray, yellow, purple, and cobalt. Parakeets often have very distinct markings along the nape, mantle (back and wings), and primary flight feathers. In addition to those markings, budgies often show check spots and three black dots on their throats.
Budgies range in size from 7 “to about 9.5” inches from the top of their beak to the tip of their tail. The tail itself can be between 3 “and 4.5” long.
Budgies weigh about 1 to 2 ounces, but most weigh between .09 – 1.3 ounces. A bird’s weight can be an important indicator of a parakeet’s health.
No discussion of parakeets would be complete without talking about the color of the bird’s ‘cere’. The cere is what you would identify as the fleshy nodule just above the upper peak. Cere a is a way to determine the sex of the bird. This is very important if you plan to raise your parakeets.
The color of the cere is not only different between the sexes, but it changes as the bird ages and can be used as an indicator of the breeding condition they are in.
The color of the cere for males in a typical parakeet is blue or purplish-blue for birds ready to mate. For non-breeding males, the cere is pale brown or pink in color. The cere color for a ready-to-breed female is brown, while a non-breeding female is a white or light blue.
For young parakeets, the cere is pink regardless of gender. This can make sex determination and breeding of young parakeets difficult.
The eye color of typical parakeets also changes over time. Young parakeets (up to 4 months old) have black eyes. At about 4 to 6 months, parakeets will display dark gray irises.
Parakeets between 6 and 8 months will show light gray irises. When parakeets are over 8 months old, they will have white irises.
Plumage color, markings, and eye color can be very different and striking in non-typical variations of parakeets: lutinos, albinos, and pieds.
For example, the eye color of yellow and albino parakeets is usually red. Parakeets will use their hooked beak to climb, dig, and hold things, as well as breaking seeds and peeling fruit.
Where do parakeets or budgies come from?
Budgies originated from Australia.
Naturalist John Gould is believed to have brought the budgie to Europe from Australia in the late 19th century. They quickly spread throughout Europe, Asia, and even Africa and Central and South America.
Australians originally used the budgie for food. In fact, the term “budgie” literally means “good eating” or “good food”.
Recorded sightings of the budgies date back to the late 18th century. Budgies or parakeets are believed to have lived more than 5 million years. Because the parakeets were fast and agile, the aborigines set traps with seeds and fruits to catch the bird.
Being nomadic in nature, parakeets can generally be found in small flocks in the scrubland, open woodland, and grasslands of Australia. Their movements are normally linked to the availability of food and water.
Parakeets have been bred in captivity in a variety of different species and colors since the 1850s. Breeders have produced a large number of colors, feather types, and patterns.
In their natural habitat, parakeets are hunted by certain owls, hawks, and snakes. In domesticated environments, parakeets can be eaten by dogs, cats, and other birds.