Green Cheek Conures in the Wild

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that Green Cheek Conures were actually wild creatures. Most parrots in general have adapted so well to captivity and thrive in our homes that we often forget these birds were once native beings that inhabited the rain forests. But the truth is, all Green Cheek Conures are descendents of wild parrots that have been imported into the United States. They are not domestic creatures and they are still very much wired to be in the forests.

So, where do Green Cheek Conures come from, and what countries can they be found in? To begin with, these birds are only found in South America. A major part of their habitat is in the country of Bolivia; however, other neighboring countries do happen to brush up into their natural habitat. These countries include Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.

A typical Green Cheek Conure habitat would consist of dense forests or marshy wetlands. In fact, these birds inhabit such a large range that it’s difficult to pinpoint which habitat suits these birds best. For example, some Green Cheek Conures have been spotted roughly 9000 feet high in the Andes flying through the clouds, while others have been found nesting in wetlands. Some have even been found in savannas! But still, there is one common factor all these environments share. What might that be? These environments are in a tropical zone and it is there these birds thrive best.

In the wild these parrots will gather in large numbers. Only when breeding season is near will a pair venture away from their flock to raise their young. After the babies have fledged and have weaned, all birds return to their flock. It’s a cycle that has run its course for thousands of years.

Being in a flock offers a great deal of security, especially against raptors who eat these birds.

Other activities these birds would do to keep them occupied are preening, chewing, foraging, and roosting.

Now, we often hear about many parrot species being endangered. Is this so for Green Cheek Conures? Thankfully, they are not! They are however experiencing habit loss at a fast rate, thus, they could eventually become threatened if habitat destruction is not stopped. These birds are considered to be plentiful, so much so, that many natives keep these conures as pets.

Why is it important to know our conure’s wild behaviors or his environmental needs? It is important because if we know what is required to own such a creature then we can emulate a proper life for them in our home. We have to remember that they never chose to be kept in captivity, rather, it was us who brought them into our home.

Green Cheek Conure Diet

Feeding Your Green Cheek Conure

Feeding your Green Cheek is something that should not be taken lightly. In fact, feeding your parrot a proper diet is essential for proper feathering, the bird’s emotional well-being, and the overall health. That being said, we’ve all heard the saying you are what you eat, right? Well, this holds true for your pet Green Cheek Conure too. If you feed your bird unhealthy foods such as chips, crackers, or fast foods your bird’s health will suffer. So, it is important to get the bird’s diet right to ensure your bird thrives in your household. Besides, these little guys are extremely colorful, and a proper diet will only make your bird’s feathers glisten as nature intended them to. Before we get into feeding your Conure, let’s look at their diet in the wild first.

In the wild, birds have access to literally hundreds of foods. Think of their environment like a never ending buffet. In the morning the birds will spend a great deal of their time foraging. Because their beaks are hooked, these parrots specialize in eating fruits. In the wild, fruits are not the only food preferred by these creatures as items such as blossoms, nectar, seeds, buds, and occasionally insects will be eaten too. For this reason, we should try to emulate the same diet in captivity. So what kinds of things should you feed your Green Cheek Conure in captivity? It’s simple! A healthy human diet will work.

Fruits and Vegetables for your Green Cheek Conure

Fruits and vegetables should be a main staple for your bird. Offering an assortment of these food items will ensure your Conure remains healthy throughout its life. These items should be given daily, and should be served fresh due to the fact that spoiled fruits and vegetables will make your bird sick.

So what kinds of fruits should be given to your parrot? The answer to this question is almost anything your fruit basket has to offer. They love ripe bananas, fresh Washington apples, sliced mangoes, papaya, Kiwis, peaches, nectarines, or figs. As you can see there are so many fruits to offer. Fruits are vital as the natural sugars help to feed a Green Cheek’s high metabolism and brain. Quite literally these birds are so active and they require large amounts of fresh fruit daily to keep their little bodies fueled.

Another thing that should be offered daily are vegetables. Vegetables are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, sweet peppers, and butternut squash should be given every single day. Why? Because the vegetables mentioned are high in vitamins A. Vitamin A is an essential mineral that a lot of pet parrots are deficient in. These deficiencies can lead to ailments that eventually lead to death if not treated. For this reason, vitamin A should always be given on a regular basis through foods, not supplements.

Another important vegetable type that should be given regularly are dark leafy greens. Foods like kale, chard, basil, turnip greens, and spinach are just as important. These dark leafy greens have a great deal of antioxidants and are packed with vitamin A as well. Many Green Cheek Conures will nibble on the leaves throughout the day once the leaves are placed in a food bowl or on a kebab stick. These should be offered to your bird several times weekly.

There are so many vegetables that can be given to your bird. Believe it or not, some birds are picky eaters. For those that are picky, continue to introduce fruits and vegetables inside their cage. Over time, the birds will learn to eat these and enjoy them.

Again, fruits and vegetables should be a staple in your parrots diet, no exceptions! These birds need the complex carbohydrates to maintain and function properly. Not only do the carbohydrates give your bird’s the proper energy throughout the day, but also the fiber helps to move things along internally. Highly processed foods such as white bread, table sugar, or processed junk food may cause unhealthy bacteria to flourish in your birds intestines. Many birds who are fed junk diets may resort to plucking or showcase dull feathering.

Grains, Legumes, and Beans

Grains are just as important for your parrot. Like the fruits and vegetables, they too offer a great deal of fiber. These slow digesting carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, or whole wheat toast are perfect breakfast items that can be given. Also, they don’t spoil as quickly too, which is another plus.

Beans and legumes can be given as well. Try boiling some fresh brown rice with finely chopped spinach and adding some brown lentils or red lentils to the mix. Then watch how eagerly your bird devours the food. Beans and legumes are packed with protein and perfect for your Conure. This abundant protein source is perfect for feathering and muscle growth.

Thankfully beans and legumes are not too difficult to attain. They are cheap and can be found in any store. Though beans and legumes do come in cans, it is best you choose ones that are boiled without preservatives and are organic.

Meat / Protein for your Green Cheek Conure

Feeding your Green Cheek Conure small amounts of meat can be acceptable. But it should be said that this food item should be given sparingly. These protein items are not natural to them and they don’t go scavenging for carcasses when food is scarce. Rather, these birds may indulge in insects or grubs occasionally. For this reason, all protein items should be lean and should be given no more than 2 to 3 times per month. Too much animal protein is not healthy for your pet Conure. Other food items such as milk, cheese, ice cream, or yogurts should be given sparingly as well too.

I know you might be thinking about the calcium in dairy; however, calcium is just as abundant in dark leafy greens and broccoli. That being said, milk should be avoided and you should know these parrots don’t have the proper enzymes to digest dairy products. Though some owners do give their birds small amounts of dairy, and truthfully most Green Cheek Conures don’t die from it, you’ll have to decide if it’s something you choose to give your bird. Again, you should know dairy is not natural to Green Cheek Conures. Also, dairy is filled with fat, hormones, and leads to cholesterol build up.

Natural and Healthy Fats

Natural and healthy fats are important for your parrot too in moderation. That being said, a majority of healthy fats should come from seeds and healthy oils. Seeds such as walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans, and even sunflower seeds should be given sparingly. Back in the old days, before proper parrot nutrition was known, many breeders only fed their birds an assortment of seeds. Though many birds did thrive on such a diet, many suffered as well. Quite frankly, a super fat diet is not healthy nor is a Green Cheek Conure designed to eat such a diet.

Other fat sources such as coconut oil or red palm oil can be given too. These oils have fatty acids that promote glossy feathers. But remember there can be too much of a good thing! These fats can be drizzled over some of your birds dark leafy greens or mixed with a brown rice mixture. Some owners even toast fresh whole wheat bread with a little bit of coconut oil drizzled on top. A little goes a long way! These birds have tiny bodies and need roughly about a tablespoon every month, no more. The overall goal for a Green Cheek owner to strive for is a balance between these healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, grains, rices, and legumes. If you do,you’ll see your birds have radiant feathers if their diet is spot on.

Other oils that are hydrogenated or destroyed upon cooking also should be avoided. These oils include olive oil and vegetable oils. Olive oil can be given just as long as it is cold pressed and made of a higher quality.

Pellets and Commercial Diets

This might be a bit controversial section of the article, but it should be said pellets should really be given in MODERATION. Why? Firstly, many of the pelleted brands are simply companies looking to make money. Well then, you might be thinking what about the vets endorsing such products? We’ll unfortunately, many of them get compensated for their efforts to advertise pellets too. So, where is this going? The bottom line is that it all comes down to business and selling product. Some pellet blends change formulas due to shortages in ingredients or have poisoned birds due to spoiled batches. Some bird foods, which we’ll leave out, have been recalled due to many pet birds dying. Not only are pellets synthesized and processed foods, but many contain dyes or have been known to offer too many vitamins and minerals. So does that mean they are completely unhealthy? It depends how they are given.

Pellets should be given in small doses throughout the week. There is no such thing as a one food brand for all parrots. Parrots have evolved to eat colorful foods that have many different textures and tastes. From a mental point of view, it’s simply not healthy. How would you like to only eat shredded wheat your whole life? See our point? To drive home this concept, you should know that some species of parrots have evolved to eat palm nuts, others grass seeds, nectar, some even eat the flesh from sheep! As you can see, each parrot species has its own nutritional needs. Besides, for more proof, look at what’s happening to people who eat tons of processed foods–it’s not good and the same applies to your Green Cheek Conure.

Pellets can be given; however, they need to be offered with the food mentioned above.

Foods that Should Never Be Given

There are foods that should never be given to your pet Conure. In fact, some can even kill your birds. These food items are avocado, chocolate, and alcoholic beverages. Other food items that have been known to cause allergies in birds are garlic and onions; however, many owners do give their birds garlic or onions. If you fill your bird has a food allergy to these items you should talk to your avian vet and see what works for your bird. Remember, every bird is different and has its own internal chemistry.

An Overall Thought About Your Green Cheek’s Diet

Hopefully this article enlightened many new Green Cheek owners or made experienced owners more aware of a proper diet. The most important thing that should be taken away is that these birds require a diet varied in all kinds of color and fresh foods. For optimal health, all food should be given in its natural state.

There are so many wonderful salads and recipes waiting to be tasted by your feathered companion. Be creative and your little bird will love you for it and will live a long and healthy life!

Green Cheek Conure Molting

It’s a warm summer day, you’re out on your patio sipping your cold lemonade, and you’ve rolled your bird cage outside with you so your Green Cheek Conure can get some fresh air. While you’re observing your bird play with its toys or climb about, you start to notice feathers on the bottom of the cage. Feeling a great deal of concern, you start to think your bird is plucking its feathers, or your bird has some sort of disease! With feathers all over the place, you do a search online and you stumble upon the topic of molting. So what is it, how long does it last, and why does this happen? These are some of the things, and more, that will be covered within this article, but first things first, don’t panic or worry. It’s likely a seasonal molt.

What is Molting?

Molting is simply a natural process that all birds must endure. Yearly, the feathers are shed and new feathers are regenerated. This molting process last roughly two months and starts on the wings or the head of the bird. As the bird cycles through the molt, you’ll notice tubelike structures all over the Conure’s body. These tube structures, called pin feathers, are simply casings of wax to protect the new feathers that are regrowing. These straw like structures are filled with blood vessels, also known as blood feathers too, until the feather matures. A mature feathers is simply made and hardened by the protein keratin. This fibrous structure is also produced in our hair and nails too.

If one of these feathers should break, a bird may lose a great deal of blood. For this reason, the bird should never be stressed as breakage of a blood feather could occur quite easily.

As the pin feathers mature, you’ll notice feathers erupting from the tips of them. Over time, the mature feathers will eventually break from this waxy coating until they are fully formed. How do you tell if a feather is fully formed? Most pin feathers will have a translucent look while younger pin feathers will be full of blood and fluid. By looking at the pin feathers you’ll be able to notice the mature ones from the newer ones.

Why Does A Green Cheek Conure Molt?

The most obvious reason is that over a year a great deal of damage occurs to the feathers. Green Cheek Conures live in environments full of parasites, wind, humidity, rain, and the constant preening of their beaks. For this reason, these feathers are designed to last for a short time. Not only do the feathers damage over time, but Green Cheek Conures take a great deal of pride in how they look. A healthy coat of feathers symbolizes the bird’s health and its attractiveness. For this reason, nature has bestowed a genius solution to ensure that your bird stays in optimal health and always has a great coating of feathers at all times.

You should know that feathers are not like our human hair. Instead, the feather is more like a scale of a reptile. It is believed that over time scales have evolved into feathers; however, that is a whole different argument and a controversial subject to say the least. That being said, feathers don’t grow like our hair. If we get a haircut, our hair continues to grow from the follicle forever–it never stops growing. If a feather should break or get cut, the feather will stay that way for roughly a year. In fact, owners who clip their Green Cheek Conure’s wings take advantage of this as the wings will stay clipped for roughly a year. Only when the bird molts, will the owner have to go get the wings clipped again.

What can you do during the molt?

Again, the most important thing is to not stress the bird out. Birds who become overly stressed during a molt will develop bars, known as stress bars. That being said, if you’re Green Cheek Conure lets you pet him, then you can try to remove the excess waxy coating with your fingernails.

In the wild, a mated pair of conures would sit side-by-side preening each other. The areas the Conure cannot get, the forehead and in the back of the head, would be preened by its mate. This constant preening strengthens the bond and helps the birds maintain the feathers in the hard to get regions. Where the Green Cheek Conure can reach, the bird will preen its own feathers until all pin feathers mature. This is a natural process and for this reason the conure should be left alone to deal with the new feathers.

You should know that it is safe to handle the bird during a molt. Again, just take the proper precautions and don’t play too rough with the bird until the feathers have all regrown.

So what else can you do to make the process smoother? You can ensure the diet is on the up and up, give more sprouted seeds, higher foods in vitamin A, and extra baths to help the feathers. With that being said, in roughly 2 months the cycle will be complete and everything will be back to normal.

If your bird becomes extra moody during a molt, you should respect its boundaries and give the bird some space. Most often, owners always report some moodiness during such a stage.

On a side note, if you think your bird is plucking you should look for these symptoms: bald spots on the chest, bald spots on the middle covert (shoulders), or shredded feathers. You should also know that during a molt a Green Cheek Conure will not have any skin showing. If you notice a lot of down poking through the feathers too, then you should take your bird to an avian veterinarian. If you believe the molt to be a bit heavier, you could also give the bird a few months to ensure the bird is not mutilating its feathers.

Another great sign that your bird is molting is that most molts occur, usually after warmer weather and in it or in autumn. Though some molts may occur in the winter, you should monitor your bird to be sure it is not feather picking as this can be odd. Please take a look at the photos provided in this article as they will showcase what a natural molt should look like.

We hope this article has shed some light on the topic!