If you just got your sun conure or are thinking of adding one to your feathered family, you’re probably wondering about sun conure life span. How long can you expect your bird to be around for? Good news: quite a while! With proper care and a healthy diet, these neotropical parrots can be a part of your family for years to come.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about sun conure life span and making sure yours lives a long and happy life!
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How long do sun conures live in the wild?
According to Animal Diversity Web, the lifespan of sun conures in the wild is not actually known at this point. As stated by this source, the habits and life cycles of sun conures in their natural habitat haven’t actually been studied closely yet, owing to the fact that the areas they live in are usually pretty inhospitable.
Of course, as with all parrots, it’s to be expected that sun conures don’t live quite as long in the wild as they do when well-cared for in captivity.
Sun conures are endangered in the wild, owing to habitat loss caused by human activity like cattle grazing. The capture of wild sun conures for the animal trade and food or to protect crops is not allowed but it likely still happens.
On top of the dangers that humans pose, sun conures also have natural predators to deal with. They naturally occur in tropical areas: open savannalands as well as more densely forested areas along the Amazon riverbank, always at low altitudes.
Because they nest in trees, sun conures are especially vulnerable during the nesting season, when predators like snakes and monkeys can intrude to steal chicks and even adult birds.
What is the lifespan of a sun conure in captivity?
The breeding season for sun conures falls early in their natural habitat, usually in February. In captivity they usually breed a bit later, when spring is in full effect.
Chicks become independent around 10 weeks and reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age. After that they still have a long life ahead of them, as sun conures tend to live for a minimum of 15 years with good care.
Ages of 20 or more are not uncommon and there are even birds that reach 30.
What influences sun conure life span?
You! You influence your sun conure’s lifespan. Although these neotropical parrots can make it to the respectable age of 30, that doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee.
There’s always the possibility of premature passing due to a disease that you can’t do anything about or unfortunate accidents, but in the end, good care is the most important factor. Sure, maybe your sun conure just doesn’t have the genetics to make it to the high end of the age spectrum, but 15-20 years or more should be totally attainable.
Let’s go into some of the things you can do to ensure that your sun conure makes it to a respectable age.
Probably the most common cause of premature passing in all parrots, including sun conures, is bad diet. The myth that parrots can survive on nothing but seeds is still pervasive.
Many sun conures end up obese and with a myriad of related health issues due to overfeeding and fatty diets that are high in foods that should really only be treats, like sunflower seeds.
Although wild sun conures do eat seeds (unripe, ripe and sprouting), they also consume many other foods. Fruits make up a good part of their diet; according to ADW, they especially have a taste for red cactus fruits and berries of the Malpighia tree. Other than that they’ll feed on nuts, seeds, flowers, the occasional insect and, to the dismay of farmers, human-grown crops.
With our domestic birds we should always do our best to offer an equally varied diet to make sure they get all those precious micronutrients. What we shouldn’t do, however, is feed them as much as wild birds eat: our feathered friends don’t exactly use as many calories on a daily basis as their wild counterparts do while flying around searching for their next meal.
A good sun conure diet can consist, among other things, of:
- Plenty of veggies like broccoli, leafy greens, peas, carrots and more.
- The occasional fruit: although wild sun conures eat a lot of fruit, it’s too high in sugar to feed large amounts of it to our domestic parrots.
- A high-quality pellet food that doesn’t contain added sugars.
- A high-quality seed mix, preferably without addictive sunflower seeds.
- Fresh sprouted seeds, which you can do yourself using your normal seed mix or a more varied sprouting mix.
- Foraged foods from low-pollution areas without pesticides: garden weeds (dandelion leaves, clover), fresh flowers (chrysanthemum, daisies) and fresh grasses.
- Extra: cooked grains like black rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, buckwheat, oats, etc.
Don’t forget to also offer a mineral block and multiple sources of fresh water.
In order to prevent accidents, stress and diseases that stem from environmental causes, there are a few general care guidelines that you should always keep in mind.
- Air quality: Birds, including parrots, have extremely sensitive lungs. A nice scented candle is a joy for us but can shorten sun conure life span, for example. Other common culprits to avoid at any cost are aerosolized scented products, cigarette smoke, fumes from teflon cookware and air fresheners.
- Social life: Sun conures live in large flocks in the wild and they have evolved to be extremely social. A lone conure that doesn’t get enough attention from its owner will be stressed out of its mind and can not only develop behavioral issues but also physical problems like feather plucking and self-mutilation.
Exercise: A good diet is the biggest factor in preventing parrot obesity, but regular exercise is necessary as well. Your conure will love spending daily time out of its cage not just so it can socialize with you and explore, but also because it offers a great chance to stretch those beautiful wings.
It’s also a good idea to offer plenty of parrot toys to keep your bird extra busy.
- Parrot-proofing: Any space that you let your sun conure roam free in, including its own cage, should be inspected to make sure there are no dangers. Electricity cables make attractive chew toys, open windows are a huge danger and unsafe toys have killed or maimed many parrots. They’re so curious they just get in trouble easily!
- Vet & emergencies: You should have the number for a trusted avian vet handy at all times. Ideally, you should be taking your conure there not just when it feels under the weather, but also for yearly check-ups. Have an emergency kit ready with items like tweezers, a blood clotting agent and anything else you think might prove useful.
How old is my sun conure?
We all want to know how old our bird is so we know how much time we can expect to enjoy with it and to identify age-related issues (like the parrot “terrible twos” when they reach sexual maturity).
If you bought your bird from a breeder you’ll usually know exactly when it hatched, and even if you weren’t told, it’ll often have a leg band that shows the hatch date.
If you got your parrot from a pet store or if it’s a rescue it might be a bit more difficult to figure out its age. You can ask around some but unless the bird is still a juvenile, you’re pretty much out of luck when it comes to determining sun conure age visually.
Young sun conures that haven’t yet reached a year and a half will have different plumage than adult ones. Their feathers are much greener in color and they don’t have that typical sunny yellow yet until they molt and their adult colors grow in. This makes sense: the green color offers great camouflage in the wild!
Other than this color difference in young birds, it’s not possible to see how old a sun conure is.
If you have any more questions about sun conure life span or if you want to share your own experiences with these colorful South American parrots, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
If you love sun conures, don’t forget to have a look at the guide to sun conure talking.