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How to Tell the Age of a Conure
Conures are members of the parrot family. They are intelligent, sociable creatures that love to play with their owners and interact with other pets in the household. The most common type of conures is the green-cheeked and sun conures. Other types include blue-fronted Amazons (Amazona aestiva) and white-bellied conures (Leptosittaca branickii).
If you own a conure, the age of your pet bird is a question many people will ask you. Whether you’re the proud parent of a conure or are simply curious how old your feathered friend maybe, there are several features that you can look at to get an idea of just how old your pet bird is.
This guide will be relevant mostly for sun and green-cheeked conures but may apply to other species as well! Here are the simple steps.
1. The Beak
The beak is arguably the most important feature to check when trying to estimate age in birds. The main reason for this is that parrots don’t have deciduous teeth, so once you’ve seen a certain type of beak on your bird, they will likely have it until death.
With conures particularly, their beaks change color as they age (especially with sun conures), making them very easy to see.
Inherited from wild ancestors, the uppermost part of a conure’s beak is black (although sometimes brown). This color may begin to appear in younger birds or slowly disappear in older ones. It can take up to 10 years for a sun conure to completely lose the black coloration on its beaks. The other main color is red, and this also changes with age. As birds get older, their upper beak color will turn from orange (in young conures) through yellow to white.
2. The Feet
While somewhat difficult to see, it is possible to tell the age of a conure based on their feet! Like with the beak, certain colors indicate how old your feathered friend may be. Conures’ feet can range in color from pink or yellowish-white when they’re young through blue and green as they begin growing up (just like human babies). With older birds, especially if they’re gender-matched, their feet will turn a dark grey. As conures get older, they grow thin nails (and long claws) that are usually visible on the feet.
3. The Eyes
The size of your conure’s eyes doesn’t necessarily give a good indication of age, but it is possible to tell how old a bird may be based on its eye color!
Conures’ irises change color as they get older and develop more mature feathers in their plumage. This can take anywhere from 1-5 years, depending on the individual bird. While young birds have brown eyes, this gradually changes into varying shades of yellow before changing to red or orange with age. In old birds, their eyes start to turn blue.
4. Their Behavior
Like with humans, conures’ behavior changes as they get older. They may become calmer and more relaxed (much like elderly people do). On the other hand, a younger bird can exhibit old man-like behavior if raised from babyhood or kept with older birds.
Once your bird reaches a geriatric stage, it can still be playful and active; however, these birds are usually more likely to tend to stay close to their cage or play areas than go exploring.
5. Their Plumage
The colors on a conure’s body are also a sign of its age, but it is usually quite difficult to tell how old an adult bird maybe just from looking at its feathers. However, when the sun conures are hatchlings, there are a few telltale signs you can look out for.
Advantages of Knowing Your Conure’s Age
Some bird owners are may be surprised to learn that conures have an average lifespan of 25+ years! This longevity can come with both health and behavioral benefits.
For conure owners, it is important to know your pet bird’s age because this helps with understanding its behavior. Knowing a conure’s age also has financial value; for example, most insurance companies are only willing to make reimbursement on the medical bills of an owner’s pet if they can properly prove its age.
Tips and Tricks
Aging a conure can be tricky for many owners because it involves observations that must be carried out over a long period of time. However, the key is consistency! Remember always to keep your observations consistent and always use the same method so you can track the changes in the bird’s plumage, behavior, and development over time.
It would help if you made notes or took pictures of the changes in its plumage, beak, and feet. This way, you can compare these with current observations to see if there is a major color change or not. Also, save any notable information about the bird’s behavior as well when making your notes (such as aggressive behaviors changing to mild-mannered and playful behavior).
It can be difficult to pinpoint a conure’s age with accuracy. Some are juveniles, some are adults, and others may be in between these two stages. Even though they have the ability to mimic speech, we can’t exactly talk to them about their life story–they don’t always know when they were born!
Fortunately, plumage is an indicator that works better than anything else for telling if a bird is full-grown or not. Other signs can help you estimate if your pet bird is nearing seniority or if it’s in the prime of its life!
If you enjoyed these five easy steps, go explore the rest of our blog post to learn more about all kinds of interesting bird species!
- Suggested reading: Blue-crowned Conure
Featured Image Credit: Tupungato, Shutterstock
Oliver (Ollie) Jones – A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master’s degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.