A Dusky Conure as a Pet Bird - An Affectionate and Clever Parrot

Martin the dusky conure
Martin the dusky conure | Source

A Lovely Pet

Dusky conures can make lovely pets and companions. They are small and attractive parrots and are clever birds. My dusky conure is called Cece. She has been a member of my family for about eight years. I got her from a breeder when she was a youngster. She's an affectionate bird and has become a great friend, but she does have her feisty moments.

Wild dusky conures live in South America. Pet birds breed well in captivity. They are mainly green in color but have a grey or blue-grey head. The abdomen and part of the wings may be yellow and the edges of the wings and tip of the tail may be a beautiful blue color. The birds have a white ring around the eyes and their beak is black. Adult dusky conures are about eleven inches long.

Dusky conures are also known as Weddell's conures, dusky-headed conures and dusky-headed parakeets. Their scientific name is Aratinga weddellii.

A telephoto picture of Cece on my shoulder; she likes running my hair through her beak
A telephoto picture of Cece on my shoulder; she likes running my hair through her beak | Source

Cece, My Dusky Conure

Cece is the only conure that I have ever owned. Many sources say that dusky conures are sweet, clever, calm and relatively quiet compared to other conures, who are generally noisy birds. Cece is clever and is often very sweet too - when she’s in the mood - but she is sometimes the opposite of calm and quiet! She is strong willed and is very assertive at times. She has a loud call, but she also makes gentle chirping sounds when she is happy and relaxed.

Cece loves to perch on me and walk over my clothes. She likes to investigate everythIng that I do. (Since she tries to help herself to my food, I have to put her on a perch attached to her cage while I'm eating.) Sometimes she decides to relax and preen her feathers while she's perched on me. At other times she decides to nestle under my clothes. She often becomes silent and motionless when she has settled under my sweater or shirt. I have to remember that I'm carrying an invisible bird around so that she doesn't get hurt by my movements!

At times, Cece likes to be stroked all over her body, even turning upside down on my lap for a chest and belly stroke. These moments are lovely. It's wonderful to have the trust of a bird.

Stroking a Dusky Conure

Cece often behaves exactly like the bird in the video above. She must be in the right mood in order for me to stroke her chest and belly, however. She lets me know if she isn't with an irritated vocalization and by putting pressure on one of my fingers with her beak. She's an affectionate but assertive bird.


I don’t know Cece’s gender. Male and female conures look identical externally. I suspect that Cece is a male, based on certain aspects of “her” behavior, but when I first got her I referred to her as “she” and I’ve got used to doing this. Her gender could be determined by looking at DNA from a blood test, but I don’t want to put her through this. I don’t intend to breed her so it really doesn’t matter whether she’s a male or a female.


The main food for a dusky conure should be bird pellets with good ingredients. The diet needs to be supplemented with pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. Although some seeds in a conure's diet are okay, perhaps as part of the pellets, many pet experts recommend avoiding an all-seed diet. They say that seeds don't provide all the nutrients that birds need. Observers know that conures in the wild feed on more than just seeds.

Cece and Petra, my moustache parakeet, love cooked sweet potatoes and corn in addition to their pellets. Some other suitable foods for conures are carrots, peas, green beans, broccoli, spinach, apples without the seeds, pears, oranges and cooked grains such as millet and rice. Sugary, fatty or salty junk food shouldn't be given to dusky conures. Avocado and chocolate must be avoided, since they contain compounds that are poisonous for pet birds. Caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided.

Kayak Eats a Birdie Chip

The Cage

A cage needs to be big enough and interesting enough to keep a conure happy. (No matter how interesting the cage, the bird shouldn't be left in it all day.) My cage is thirty inches tall and twenty-four inches wide. Another factor to consider is that the bars of a cage should not be so far apart that a bird can get a head stuck between them.

Cece spends the night in her cage but is free flying for most of the day. Petra usually spends the night on a perch attached to the top of Cece's cage. Petra and Cece do sometimes get into the same cage when the door is open, but I've never tried closing the door of a cage when both birds are inside.

If your conure is free flying at any time, you need to plan where the bird is allowed to travel in order to keep him or her - and your furniture - safe. All escape routes must be blocked. Even if your bird can't fly, you need to decide where he is allowed to explore. You also need to keep your eye on him, especially if there are other pets or young children in the house. Even adults need to be careful if a bird decides to travel over the floor or a sofa where they may get accidentally hurt.

A Dusky Conure Getting a Bath

Games and Baths

Conures need toys and activities to keep them physically and mentally happy. The toys need to be made of safe materials. The activities need to be changed regularly so that the bird doesn't get bored.

Conures like to take showers or baths occasionally. My birds love bathing in a dog food bowl and always get very excited during this activity. Some birds enjoy being sprayed with a fine mist. It's important that the water in the bath isn't too hot or too cold. If you decide to let your bird bathe under running water, it's also important that the flow isn't too strong. Although the bird in the video above is obviously enjoying the bath, I would personally prefer a gentler flow of water for Cece. A bird mustn't get cold after a bath when he or she has wet feathers.

Burt Plays With a Toy

A Conure in the Family - Some Drawbacks

In my experience - and in the experiences of many other dusky conure owners - it's definitely worthwhile getting one of these birds as a pet. Their advantages far outweigh their drawbacks as far as I am concerned. However, you should be aware of these drawbacks - they may be more important to you than they are to me.

Cage Maintenance and Veterinary Care

As is true for any pet, looking after a dusky conure requires time and money. The cage must be an adequate size for your bird and needs to be cleaned regularly. The bird's beak and claws need to be kept in good condition. Special perches, cuttlebones and mineral blocks help to do this. You will need to visit the vet if necessary, carrying the bird in a safe container. An avian vet is the best kind to visit because he or she specialises in treating birds.

Personal Attention

Personal attention to a pet can be time consuming - especially when there are multiple pets in a family - but is essential for the pet's wellbeing. In the wild, dusky conures live in pairs, small groups and large flocks. They are social birds. As pets, they need company, even if their companion is a human instead of another bird.

Rocky Steals Potato Chips

Based on the video above, Rocky seems to enjoy helping himself to human food, just like Cece. Be careful what your pet bird eats. He or she may pick up something unhealthy or even dangerous.

The Price of Good Food

Another possible drawback for a dusky conure owner is the price of food. Good food Is needed to keep your bird in top condition. You should try to avoid the bird food that most supermarkets sell. Pet store food may be more expensive and the store may be located further from your house than your local supermarket. A good diet helps to keep the bird's immune system working properly, however, so it's worth searching for healthy food. You will also need to buy fruits and vegetables for your conure.

I have to travel quite a long way to buy my favorite food. Luckily, the specialty bird store that I visit sells the food in bulk, so I freeze some of it when I get home. I also appreciate the owner's extensive knowledge of birds. The store is associated with an avian vet, who has her clinic right next to the bird store. If you own a pet, make sure that you know the location, route and open hours to your nearest emergency vet in case a visit is ever necessary.

Elphaba Plays with her Stick


Dusky conures are chewers and complete their damage rapidly. I’ve got small holes in several items of clothing, since Cece spends a lot of time perched on me. I’ve learned to wear old clothes in the house because I’m not going to stop carrying her around. Cece does sometimes nip me when she is in one of her feisty moods, but she's never bitten hard enough to make me bleed.

It’s definitely not a good plan to wear anything valuable around a dusky conure, including jewelry such as earrings. Be very careful if you wear hearing aids and have a pet bird who perches on your shoulder, especially if the hearing aid has any visible parts that the bird could damage.


Cece can be noisy when she's excited, such as when she sees someone coming down the driveway or when she's interacting with Petra. I live in a house, not an apartment, but even so I can hear Cece and Petra shrieking together from outside the house. Luckily the calls don't last for long. Cece may be noisier than she would normally be because she's copying Petra. I'm glad that Cece has Petra's companionship as well as mine. She enjoys his company even though he belongs to a different species.

A dusky conure at Beale Park in Reading, England
A dusky conure at Beale Park in Reading, England | Source

Training a Conure

Conures aren't great talkers, which may be a disadvantage for some people. When the birds do produce words they are often indistinct - or so I've read. I've never tried to teach Cece to speak. Conures can be taught to perform tricks, however, although once again I've never tried this with Cece. She creates interesting behaviours on her own!

Like other pet birds, dusky conures can be messy, dropping food when it's only half eaten and pooping whenever they feel the urge. Newspaper or another covering below a popular perch can make clean-up easier. Some people say that they have been able to potty train their dusky conure, getting the bird to poop on command in a suitable place.

Pet birds should be bought from a reputable breeder. They should never be wild-caught birds.

Should You Get a Dusky Conure?

One thing to be aware of is that conures can live for as long as twenty-five years. You need to think about the future. Is the bird likely to outlive you? If so, is there someone that you trust who will take of your bird when you are no longer able to?

If you're prepared for the work involved in looking after a pet bird and for the other possible drawbacks, a dusky conure makes a great pet. I'm very fond of Cece. Her occasional bad moods are annoying when they happen, but her good moods are wonderful! It's lovely to have a close relationship with a parrot.

© 2012 Linda Crampton

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Comments 32 comments

writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

You have a very cute parrot and great information. Voted up and awesome.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the lovely comment and the votes, writer20! I'm sure that Cece would appreciate the comment too. She has a very high opinion of herself!

FishAreFriends profile image

FishAreFriends 4 years ago from Colorado

I love parrots, I have four. This hub has a lot of information, nicely done. I've always wanted to have a conure, as I like their personalities. Cool hub I especially like the videos!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Taking care of four parrots must keep you very busy, FishAreFriends! I would like to own more birds, but I already have seven pets in the house and know that I wouldn't have time to look after any others. Thanks for the visit and the comment.

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Good info for those wanting to take care of this clever bird. Voting this Up and Useful.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for commenting and for the votes, alocsin. I appreciate your visit.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Alicia,

Enjoyed reading about and seeing your Conure bird. Nice that you mentioned their longevity because that should always be taken into consideration when adopting any kind of pet. Useful, interesting and up votes.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for the visit and the votes, Peggy. Yes, it is very important to think about the potential lifespan of a pet before bringing him or her into the family. It's possible for some pets to live for a very long time.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

I love bird and I learn many things here. Thank you very much for detail information about Dusky Conure. It's new for me. Alicia, you have done a great job here. Rated up and have a nice day!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Prasetio. Thank you very much for the comment and the rating. I hope that you have a nice day, too!

Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Wow - nice information!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for visiting and for the comment, Maren Morgan!

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

I can well understand your attachment to Cece, Alicia, since my grandmother owned a parrot when I was very young. It was a very clever bird and could imitate my mother's and grandmothers's voices so well, I would always think they were calling me. It was the bird! Thanks for the sweet hub.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, drbj. I've never had a bird that can talk in my family or tried to teach one to talk. I'm sure that a talking parrot would be very entertaining, though, just like your grandmother's was!

Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Alicia, wow they can live up to 25 years! that's definitely something to be considered if you're thinking of having one!

Cece is certainly a very handsome bird.

Voting up and interesting.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Lesley. Yes, sometimes people don't realize that even though a dusky conure is a small parrot he or she can live for many years. That certainly is something to think about! Thank you for the comment and the votes.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, Alicia, the name Dusky Conure is new to me, I never realised that parrots had different names, but how lovely! there used to be a parrot in the pet shop near me, I loved going in and being greeted with good mornin'! even though yours doesn't speak much it must be great fun carrying one around on your shoulder! I bet you get called long john silver! haha! thanks for sharing!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks, Nell. Yes, Cece is a good companion and it is fun to carry her around, unless she starts interfering with what I'm doing, which she does sometimes because she's very interested in what's going on! She often likes to examine what I'm touching or pick up things that I'm trying to use, like a pen or a pencil. Sometimes I just have to put her back on a perch and shut her up in the room which has her cage just so I can get some work done!

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

Hi Alicia, my sister has had her "Dasy" the Parrot for about 35 years! That crazy bird can say, "I'm a pretty good girl" and Whistles at you. I really Enjoyed your Hub and those Interesting Fact that only you can weave so well!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Wow - thirty five years is a long time to own a pet! That's a sizable chunk of a human's life! Thank you for the interesting and kind comment, b. Malin.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

You will never know how many brilliant memories you have brought back.

A few years ago now we had a Red Hooded Conure called Brad in the family ;he was such a character and so loved by all.

I wrote a hub on him if you would like to read ;

I have to vote this one up up and away plus bookmark.

Thank you so much for sharing;take care and enjoy your day.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

I am very much looking forward to reading your hub, Eddy! The only conure that I know much about is the dusky conure, and I'd love to learn about the other kinds. Thank you for the comment.

Fennelseed profile image

Fennelseed 4 years ago from Australia

HI Alicia, Cece sounds like a real character, he/she must be so centent nestling in your sweater. I would love to stroke her, if she would let me. Thank you for this interesting hub and for introducing Cece here. My votes to you!!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Fennelseed. Thank you for the visit and the votes. Yes, Cece is certainly a character. There's a lot of personality packed into her relatively small body!

Paul 3 years ago

My Connie is 30 yrs old. It looks like she's developing cataracts in both eyes. She is still active and a very loving bird.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Paul. I hope Cece lives to be thirty, as long as she's happy. It's wonderful that Connie is still active! Thanks for the visit.

Tess 8 months ago

I loved this article, I just got a dusky conure about 6 months ago and she is so sweet and fun, I love her so much!, She also has her feisty moments just like your Cece. They are great little birds thanks for the wonderful and informative article.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 8 months ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Tess. It's great to hear from another dusky conure owner! Your bird sounds a lot like Cece. Thank you very much for the comment.

lrdl3535 profile image

lrdl3535 6 months ago from California

Great post, my wife has a Sun Conure and she is a great pet. But she can get a little loud at time.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 6 months ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks, lrdl3535. Sun conures are attractive birds. I'm glad to hear that your bird is a great pet despite her noise!

Robert 5 months ago

My girlfriend has a dusky and a green cheek. People say they don't talk. WRONG! These 2 will drive you nuts. They can talk very well. They actually make sentences. The green cheek is named baby. The dusky is egor baby. I've never been into birds but I am now. These 2 birds will steal your heart. The reason we got 2 is they had them side by side at the pet store. She wanted the little one and I noticed the dusky trying to get her attention. After a little it just went to the side of its cage like it was sad. I felt sorry for it,so I told them you make me a good deal I'll buy both birds. Guess what I did. This isn't the first conures she has had. She lost 2 in the past. That was the best thing we could have ever done is to have 2 at the same time. I love these birds like I have never loved another pet. They are so cool and loveable.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 months ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for sharing your experience, Robert. It sounds like you have a wonderful pair of birds!

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