Sherry is a native animal keeper who volunteers at a bird rescue centre in her town.
Green-Cheeked Conure Profile
Green-cheeked conures are small-sized parrots that are widespread throughout South America. They are little birds with gymnastic and clownish personalities to amuse everyone.
- Size: approximately 26 cm
- Weight: 2 to 3 ounces
- Lifespan: 20-30 years
- Phylogeny: The green-cheeked parrots belong to the family Psittacidae and subfamily Arinae. The genus Pyrrhura consists of long-tailed parrots of the new world of parrots.
- Sex identification: Male and females are visually identical (monomorphic). Feather DNA may be used for identification.
- Common names: green-cheeked conure, green-cheeked parakeet, yellow-sided conure, green-cheeked parrot
- Scientific name (Genus species): Pyrrhura molinae
Six subspecies of green-cheeked parakeets are found. Five of those are quite discernible and one is well-marked (you can check out the photos above to see the differences).
1. P. m. molinae
- Crown to nape: brown-tinged green
- Cheeks: bright green
- Hindneck: has some blue feathers
- Breast: pale brown barred greyish white or dull yellow towards the centre of the breast
- Feathers: tipped, dusky brown
- Eye ring: white
Geographical distribution: eastern Bolivia
2. P. m. restricta
- Breast: brownish-grey barred white
- Hindneck: has a blue collar
- Cheeks: green-tinged blue
- Flanks and under tail-coverts: suffused blue
Geographical distribution: Santa Cruz, Bolivia
3. P. m. sordida
Green morph: Similar to P. m. restricta:
- Breast: centre suffused yellow
- Flanks and under tail coverts: little or no bluish suffusion
Yellow morph, aka yellow-sided green cheek conure:
- Throat: yellowish-white barred brown
- Breast: upper breast yellowish-white barred brown
- Lower underparts: yellow indistinctly barred green and brown
- Undertail coverts: yellowish-white tinged blue
Geographical distribution: southern Brazil and northwestern Paraguay
4. P. m. australis
- Overall: Paler than molinae
- Breast: centre suffused yellow
- Abdomen: a brownish-red patch
Geographical distribution: southern Bolivia and northwestern Argentina
5. P. m. flavoptera
Closely similar to P. m. molinae but, here are a few differences:
- Wing: The bend of the wing and carpal edge are reddish-orange.
- Feathers: intermixed blue and yellowish-white
Geographical distribution: northern Bolivia
6. P. m. phoenicia
- Tail: green towards base
Geographical distribution: southern Brazil and northeastern Bolivia
Temperament and Behaviour
- Green-cheeked conures are smaller and generally quieter than the conures of Aratinga species (such as Janday and Sun conures).
- They are a smart, curious and interactive species.
- Green-cheeks ask for regular interaction with their owners.
- They can be more active and social than cockatiels or budgies which can be both, good and bad depending on the owner.
- They make one of the cuddliest parrots. If well trained, they can be considered a shoulder bird.
- Green-cheeked conures will hide under cage papers or owner's clothing.
- They can get destructive sometimes and may show moderate biting potential. As these traits are common with most parrots with large beaks, green-cheeks are no exception.
Speech and Vocalization
As stated earlier, green-cheeked conures are reputed to be a quieter species. Like other conures, they can be vocal but still not as much to call it a problem. They have really low talking potential so if you are expecting to have a parrot that can talk, you may have a hard time training him/her.
Caring and Exercise
- Green-cheeked conures can live alone or in pairs but will like it if paired with other species of birds.
- Provide your feathered companions clean and fresh air to breathe in. Anything that gives off strong fumes or smoke such as spray pesticides, paints, air fresheners, incense, and burning plastic is a potential hazard to the bird.
- Like any other companion bird, regular baths are important for green-cheeked conures. It is going to be a simple task for owners. Some of them might even take a bath in a water dish.
Cage and Nest Box
The best thing to do to care for a bird is to keep it cage-free for as long as possible while protecting it from all kinds of harm.
- A vertical cage that allows the bird an obstruction-free flight is most recommended. Horizontal cages also do fine but vertical cages are more likely to be fit as a home of a green-cheeked parakeet.
- An ideal cage for a green-cheeked conure should measure 18-22 inches square width and 36 inches height.
- The spacing of bars should be done 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart. It should be such that the bird cannot extend its head through the cage.
- The materials used for the construction of the cage should be nontoxic.
- A cage height that allows the parrot to perch at the human chest or shoulder level is most comfortable.
- The bird should not be kept in a cage for longer than 48 hours, in any case.
- A green-cheeked parakeet may need a nest box throughout the year. It should be vertical and measuring around 10 inches X 10 inches x 10 inches.
Perches, Play Gyms and Toys
DIY perches or store-bought ones? Both are good, although commercial perches of good quality are hard to find and quite expensive.
- Perch should be made of pesticide-free wood. It should make a safe chewable substrate. Natural branches with bark as roosts are recommended.
- The circumference of a perch wood should allow the bird to wrap its feet most of the way around.
- Large pieces of fresh vegetables and fruits provided on a skewer encourage foraging. You may get one of those from a nearby pet store or amazon.
- Toys such as chewable items or foot toys, foraging toys are enjoyed by green-cheeked conures. They like to be really active and if you cannot give them most of your time then you should definitely get them as many toys as you can.
Diet and Nutrition
In the wild, green-cheeked parakeets ate pulp and small seeds from different plant species, especially fig (Ficus calyptoceras) and Ambay pumpwood trees.
More than 50 percent of the bird's diet should be formulated product, and the remaining portion can be human food with good quality seed mix and fresh foods.
Feeding birds with a diet high in human food will result in a lack of many nutrients and may not provide some nutrients such as vitamin D. High seed diets, on the other hand, may cause the birds to consume excess fat.
Formulated pelleted diets contain the right balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. I recommend Zupreem natural pellets. It has all the essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids. The green cheeks will get used to it in a few days.
There are other pellets like Roudybush, Hagen tropican, Caitec Ovenfresh bites and products from Lafeber that you can try. All of these are pretty much the same in terms of the nutrients they provide.
Do not give food that is bitten by a human as human saliva contains bacterial that are not normal for parrots.
Acceptable Human Foods
Capsicum (yellow, red)
Egg, baked chicken
There is no specific disease that occurs exceptionally in green-cheeked conures. Conditions that are common include the following:
- Psittacosis, a bacterial disease
- Conure bleeding syndrome
- Avian Bornavirus, a viral infection
- Malassezia yeast organisms in the keratin of feather follicles (rare)
- Proventricular dilation disease (PDD)
- Psittacine beak and feather disease, a viral disease
- Marek's disease, virus
Cost of Raising a Green-Cheeked Conure
According to ASPCA, the general cost of caring for a small bird is $390 in the first year and $320 annually. My estimate is quite close to this.
- Cage: $220-450
- Play gyms, swings and other toys: $100-300
- Food expenses: $100-200 for pelleted food
- Medical expenses: Although companion birds might hardly need a vet, it is safe to calculate for medical expenses beforehand.
How and Where to Adopt
Parrots are the last pets anyone should adopt impulsively. They require long-term commitment as well as emotional and physical care. After a great deal of research, if you are committed to buying a green-cheeked conure, do not buy one from a pet store.
I highly recommend adopting one from a rescue center. This is the least you can do to hinder illegal trade and the cruel breeding of birds. You will be providing a home to a bird in need.
You can adopt a green-cheeked conure from the following places:
Maroon-bellied conures (Conure P. frontalis) are quite similar to green-cheeked conures. They can be differentiated from the latter by a green crown and olive upper tail.
- Forshaw, J. M. (2010). Parrots of the World (Vol. 70). Princeton University Press.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Sherry Haynes
Liz Westwood from UK on August 15, 2020:
This is a very detailed and well-illustrated article. I think I might have seen some of these in an area of a wild life park in the Canaries.