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How to Read Conure Body Language

Nicole Cosgrove

Conures are mostly green and yellow in color, with red, blue, and pink markings like a macaw. They’re known as ‘mini macaws’ because they’re not quite as large as larger parrot species. They can live for between 25 to 50 years in captivity – which is a long time when you’re used to getting only a decade or so with mammals, and finches usually survive around three years.

Conures are remarkable birds that have the unique ability to mimic human speech. Unfortunately, they can’t convey ideas through those words, so pet owners must learn to read their parrot’s body language to know how they feel about what’s going on around them.

Whether you’re currently the proud owner of a conure or thinking of adopting, read on to learn a few simple steps to help you figure out what your bird is thinking.

divider-birdsStep 1: Look Out for Preening

golden conure
Image Credit: Tupungato, Shutterstock

A healthy conure is a well-groomed parrot who will preen itself regularly, but a bird that simply sits around and plucks at its feathers may be experiencing boredom, or worse, depression.

These are both problems that can make you lose your confidence in your bird’s happiness, so it’s important to address them right away.

You can help with this by giving your bird some extra attention and playing with it regularly. It doesn’t take much for birds to regain their sense of fun and wellbeing!


Step 2: Listen to Its Voice

conure bird
Image Credit: Lin Animalart, Pixabay

There are many ways you can interpret your parrot’s voice: where it’s coming from (mouth or beak), the tone of its voice, whether it is loud or quiet. Think about how you would feel if someone was talking to you in that same tone of voice, and use this method of advanced observation when trying to figure out what your bird is saying.

For example, if you own an African grey parrot, it will generally be quieter than other conures (in fact, they’re the quietest of all pet parrots). They are known to barely make a peep when expressing their anger, sadness, or boredom. So, if you notice your grey is being noticeably more silent than usual, perhaps he’s feeling that way for a reason.

Of course, the opposite is also true: if you hear your parrot talking loudly and clearly, it could mean he’s in a good mood!


Step 3: Watch Its Balance

black capped conure playing
Image Credit: UniqSnaps, Shutterstock

Conures are strong and very stable fliers who can easily maneuver about the room without a problem. If it loses this skill, then there could be something wrong with its cardiovascular system or a number of other issues.

If your conure is not only unstable on the ground but also willingly steps up onto your hand or play stand, it could be ready for some special attention. It is, after all, a process of trust-building that requires an effort on the bird’s end as well and should not be pushed too far if it isn’t interested in stepping up to your hand right away.


Step 4: Look at Posture

sun conures
Image Credit: Rutpratheep, Pixabay

A healthy bird will have a straight posture and will be alert in its movements. If it seems hunched or tired, it could be a sign of something serious.

Birds who are sick or injured may sit awkwardly, and if this is the case, it’s best to take your bird in for a check-up with your veterinarian.

A parrot that has been abused will carry itself differently from a properly nurtured bird, making it much easier to spot these differences when you’re familiar with both kinds of posture.


Step 5: Observe Its Wings

sun conure perching
Image Credit: Rutpratheep Nilpechr, Pixabay

If your conure is trying to get some air, it will be flapping its wings excessively and looking at you with curiosity. If the bird’s wings are in motion, but there doesn’t seem to be any deliberate direction behind them, then you should check for signs of pain because it could be in great discomfort.


Step 6: Watch the “Happy Dance”

Conures also have ways of letting you know when they’re happy and enjoying themselves. Make sure you know how to read conure body language so that you can understand when it’s a good time to give your bird some special attention!

If you see your bird wag its tail and ruffle its feathers, it’s a good time to get in on the fun. This is similar to what a cat does when it rubs up against you, but with this move, your bird will spread its wings out slightly while dancing around.

Head bopping, in which your bird will move its head from side to side, is another good sign. This could mean curiosity or playfulness (or both!). If you see your conure balancing on one foot and swaying, you can expect it to do a jumpy hop next!


Step 7: Observe Its Energy Level

Green Cheeked Conure on hand
Image Credit: bluepaints, Pixabay

If your conure is running around at bird-speed and wandering about the room, then you can assume that it doesn’t have any problems. If the beloved bird seems lethargic or reluctant to move, it could be an indication of loneliness or depression, or even a sign of illness (so be sure to make a quick visit with your avian veterinarian and see what they can find).


Step 8: Watch the Eyes

Conure in a cage
Image Credit: Aekotography, Shutterstock

Just like humans use their eyes as a primary method for communication, so do parrots. If you notice that your bird is squinting or covering its eyes, it could be in pain.

An alert bird will have clear eyes with no discharge or tearing; if you see these signs, then your parrot may need some medication and a trip to the vet.

Note: It’s a Two-Way Street

Conures read body language too – it’s in their nature, so they’re going to be paying close attention to how you act. They learn what they can and can’t do by watching first. Your actions will teach them what to expect from the world at large, and theirs will do the same for you.

This is why you should never be aggressive towards your conure, even when you are angry. If you’re mad, wait until you have calmed down so that your actions and body language are not aggressive – don’t take it out on the bird.

They are extremely sensitive birds and “tune in” to their owners’ emotions very quickly. To reprimand your pet when they do something wrong, make sure you approach them calmly and use a quiet yet firm voice. Your conure needs to know that their actions got them in trouble, not because of any aggression from you.

divider-birdsConclusion

Whether you’re thinking about getting a conure or already have one, it’s important to know how they communicate and what their body language means. By observing your pet bird’s beak, eyes, and movements, an owner can tell if their winged friend is happy or if something’s bothering them – which makes for a better experience for everyone!

Some signs could indicate something may be wrong with your conure, in which case you should think about taking them to the vet.

If you don’t get it right away, don’t worry. The more time you spend with your bird, the easier it will be for you to understand its body language. To learn more about this interesting bird species and get tips on caring for them, check out our blog!


Featured Image Credit: Wagner Campelo, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.