Avian Expert Articles

Conures: Sun Vs. Green Cheek

SunConureOutsideBoth sun conures (Aratinga solstitialis) and green-cheeked conures (Pyrrhura molinae)  have quite a bit in common. Steve Garvin, who has bred  Pyrrhura conures for 30 years, pointed out that one of the obvious differences between the species is color. But thanks to Mr. Garvin and other conure breeders, there are green-cheeked conures sporting bright yellow and orange, the colors of a sun conure that pet owners find so attractive.

Difference: Volume

The big difference between sun and green-cheeked  conures is the volume of their vocalizations and calls. How big is that difference? According to Garvin, “A green cheek makes about half the decimals of sound and makes noise less frequently, not using their voice as a location call as much as a sun. Green cheeks are way more suited for apartment life because of volume.” There you have it. This is a big difference. With both species, early behavioral training to curtail screaming for attention is important.

Green check ConureReward your bird for being quiet by giving him attention, verbal praise and treats. Provide him with plenty of toys and activities in the cage so that he learns to play quietly and happily alone at times. When your conure calls to you, answer in a whisper to reinforce that a soft voice is the level you are looking for. Learn to use a contact call to reassure your bird that you are within hearing, even though you are not in the same room. This can be any word, from the conure’s name to “Here I am,” to a certain whistle.

Difference: Genus

Sun conures belong to the Aratinga genus, and green-cheeked conures are in the genus Pyrrhura.  Aratinga means “little macaw” in Latin. If you’re looking for a macaw without the size and expense, this is the place to look. Sun conures, jenday conures and gold-capped conures are in the Aratinga genus, and all are loud as well as attractive. The family of Pyrrhura conures are smaller, predominantly green, and soft-voiced compared to their larger conure cousins. Green-cheeked and maroon-bellied conures are the Pyrrhura conures most often available as pets.

Similarity: Playful

Both families of conures share personality and a love of play. They are inquisitive, clever and intelligent. Both Aratinga and Pyrrhura conures like snuggling into things, such as under your hair, under a shirt, or into a fabric bird buddy hung in the cage. Conures probably like being turned over on their backs and you may even find one of these conures sleeping that way. Needless to say, there are occasionally some owner panic attacks over that. Conures are interactive with each other, playing and wrestling together, and with their people.

Both sun and green-cheeked conures want and will demand your attention. Neither is a good bird for a person who is gone much of the time. They will play with toys, play on your body and love being out of their cage when you are home. If they don’t get this needed attention, they can develop screaming behavior, so you should work with your bird early on to curb this behavior.  Here’s a one-word description of conure personality: dependent.

Provide both your green-cheeked and sun conures with some wooden toys and chewable foraging toys. They like to chew. This can include chewing on their owners; both species are known as “nippy,” and you should be aware of this when considering these species as a pet. This could be a seasonally hormonal behavior, as well as being the species’ reaction to the rough play it likes.

These conures are more likely to be family birds, not as likely to be bonded to just one person, so there are many situations where that is a positive trait. Conures have “big bird” traits and personalities in small bodies.

Difference: Size

It’s not a big difference, but a  green-cheeked  conure is about 10 inches long, similar to a cockatiel in size. The sun conure is roughly 2 inches longer at 12 inches. The sun conure is stouter, with a bigger beak.

Similarity: Poor Talking Ability

Neither of these birds are known as good talkers. The occasional bird may learn a few words, but that is not typical. You want to get a conure as a pet if you have time to spend with them, and value their sociability and playfulness, rather their talking ability. When a sun or green-cheeked conure does talk, it is often not in a clear voice.

Similiarity: Non Dimorphic

Another similarity, shared by all the conures, is that males and females are similar in appearance. Young sun conures sport more green than older ones, but both male and female mature sun conures are similar in appearance, as are both male and female green-cheeked conures.

Similarity: Eye ring

All the conure species have a ring of flesh around their eyes, which in many species is white.

5 thoughts on “Conures: Sun Vs. Green Cheek

  1. I just read Diane Grindol’s article on Sun/Green Cheek Conures.
    Very well written, I’m always interested in reading about the differences
    of especially the small parrots.
    I have a Blue Crowned Conure, Gus.
    He is very calm and laid back. Has found his voice, gets loud once
    a day or so.
    Keep up the good work, I’ll be watching for more good articles.
    Sincerely, Mrs. Leigh Calhoun, Clayton NC

  2. We’ve had Poppy, our sun conure for 13 years now. I was surprised at how quickly he picked up words when he was younger. He taught himself “hello” and “thank you” and would say them over and over while I was on the phone. At night, I say, “Night night. I love you.” He replies, “Thank you.”

  3. I had a hand tamed sun conure for 30 years, I loved her so much… Smart, bratty lol the most lovable little bird… Yes LOUD
    Boy do I miss her 🙁


  5. Our Sun Conure, Pepper, is 24yrs. old. He has been with us since he was weaned. He is a non talker, but very verbal! We also had a Black Capped Conure ,Pericles (Similar to a Green Cheek), who with us for 22 years (He was a rescue bird, so we did not know his age). Both have been wonderful (but demanding) companions.
    Parrots need hours of your time. Every day.
    Best of luck!

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