White-Eared Conure: Traits, History, & Care (with Pictures)


Although they are less common in the pet bird world than other conure species, like the green-cheeked conure, white-eared conures are a fun and friendly feathered companion. More popular in Europe, white-eared conures are small, colorful birds, with the social nature and entertainment value common to most conure species. Finding one to buy or adopt can be a challenge, but the white-eared conure is worth the search! Read on to learn more about these special conures and how to care for one.divider-birdcage

Species Overview

Common Names: White-eared conure, maroon-faced conure
Scientific Name: Pyrrhura leucotis
Adult Size: 9 inches long
Life Expectancy: 19 years

Origin and History

White-eared conures are native to Eastern Brazil, where they live in dense, humid forests. Like many species, wild white-eared conures are declining in populations due to loss of habitat. White-eared conures are naturally social, living in groups of 10-20 birds. They are quieter than other species of conure, even in their natural habitat.

Fortunately, white-eared conures are perfectly happy to live and breed in captivity, helping to keep their population’s numbers up. In America, white-eared conures are not bred as often as other conure species, but they are much more popular in Europe. Legal captive breeding in America has only been going on since the mid-1990s.

Temperament

It’s hard to believe that white-eared conures are not better-known pet birds because those who’ve been lucky enough to own one have nothing but good things to say.

A well-socialized white-eared conure is friendly, affectionate, and social. They love attention and need plenty of it, either from their humans or another bird friend. White-eared conures usually aren’t as noisy or destructive as some other species of conures.

Life with a white-eared conure will never be boring as they are active and playful birds who enjoy making a spectacle of themselves. These conures are smart and can even learn to say a few words. They are good mimics as well.

Because of their social nature, white-eared conures enjoy living in pairs and will need dedicated, daily attention if kept as an only bird.

When carefully tamed and socialized, white-eared conures are usually gentle with people they know like their family. They may be wary of strangers and could bite if scared or startled.

Pros

  • Small birds, don’t take up too much space
  • Gentle and friendly personality
  • Sometimes quieter than other conure species

Cons

  • Hard to find for sale
  • They may be more expensive than more common conure species
Pyrrhura_griseipectus_-upper_body-8a-2c
Pyrrhura_griseipectus_-upper_body-8a-2c_ (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Snowmanradio, CC 2.0)

Speech & Vocalizations

The usual vocalization of a white-eared conure is a sharp, loud call, which they may repeat several times. As previously mentioned, white-eared conures are not as noisy as other conure species. While their calls are just as loud, they choose not to express themselves as often.

Conures as a whole are not as talented at talking as other parrot species. With patience, white-eared conures can usually learn to say a few words, however. They are excellent mimics and may imitate other noises that they hear like whistling or sirens.

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White-Eared Conure Colors and Markings

White-eared conures are full of color, if not as eye-catching as other species, like the sun conure.

Their bodies are mostly green, with maroon bellies and backs. The area of their ears is white, giving them their name. The rest of their head is a mix of blue and maroon coloring, explaining why they are also called maroon-faced conures.

Their wings are a mix of blue, aqua, and green feathers with red marks on the shoulders. On their chests, their feathers are green with orange-yellow edges. White-eared conures have gray legs and feet.

Like many conure species, male and female white-eared conures are similar in appearance. DNA testing is usually needed to distinguish between the two sexes. Young white-eared conures will already have their adult coloring, just not as bright.

Caring for the White-Eared Conure

Housing

White-eared conures are active birds and need a cage large enough for them to have plenty of space to move and play. Their cage should be at least 24 inches tall and wide by 36 inches long. Make sure their cage has plenty of perches and toys to keep them entertained. White-eared conures particularly love to chew, so they will need a rotation of fresh toys and branches to gnaw on.

As social birds, white-eared conures become bored and lonely easily. If your pet is an only bird, consider placing their cage in a busier area of the home, rather than a room by itself. White-eared conures enjoy observing and participating in family life.

White-eared conures may enjoy being kept in pairs or having another compatible bird species as a friend. Be sure you take the time to socialize and introduce the birds carefully as they get to know each other.

Grooming

White-eared conures love to bathe. They should have access to a birdbath or get regular spray showers to keep clean. Like all pet birds, they need to have their beak, wings, and nails trimmed regularly. Veterinarians or some groomers can usually perform these tasks or teach you how to do some of them at home. Beak trimming is best left to the experts, but motivated owners can learn to trim their conure’s nails and wings correctly.

Common Health Problems

All conures, including white-eared conures, can suffer from similar common health problems. One of these problems, feather-plucking, is behavior-related. Conures who don’t get enough attention or socialization may start picking out their feathers due to boredom. Feather-plucking can lead to other skin infections.

Here are some other common diseases found in white-eared conures:

  • Aspergillosis
  • Beak and feather disease
  • Proventricular dilatation disease
  • Psittacosis

Before bringing home a white-eared conure, make sure you connect with a veterinarian familiar with the care of birds. If you are concerned your bird is showing signs of illness, like not eating or diarrhea, contact your veterinarian.

Diet and Nutrition

To ensure good health, white-eared conures should eat a diet of primarily nutritionally balanced pellet food, with some seeds mixed in. Because wild white-eared conures forage for a variety of foods, including insects, fruits, and leaves, pet birds need variety in their diet as well. Offer fresh fruits and vegetables daily, such as leafy greens, tropical fruits, or berries. White-eared conures also need to eat protein sources like cooked eggs, beans, or quinoa, especially when molting or laying eggs.

Exercise

White-eared conures need a daily dose of both physical and mental exercise. They should be allowed out of their cages to hang out with their people or play in a bird gym, ideally for 3-4 hours a day. Out of cage time allows the birds to climb, chew, play and burn off some of their endless energy.

A white-eared conure also needs daily bonding and one-on-one attention from their owners. Clever conures can learn tricks and enjoy talking, cuddling, and spending time with their human families, especially if they have no other bird friends.

Without this physical exercise or emotional bonding time, white-eared conures may develop behavior problems such as feather picking.

Where to Adopt or Buy a White-Eared Conure

Because they are sweet and easy to care for, the toughest part of owning a white-eared conure might end up being finding one to buy or adopt. They’re not commonly bred in the United States, compared to other conures. Contacting specialty bird breeders or bird stores is probably your best chance of locating a white-eared conure for sale. Expect to pay about $500 if you do find one.

Since they are so rare, finding a white-eared conure to adopt will be difficult, but not impossible. Check exotic bird rescues and expect that you’ll probably need to be patient in your search for adoptable white-eared conures. divider-birdcage

Conclusion

Sweet and gorgeous white-eared conures may be hard to find, but their charm is easy to see once you do. Before deciding to bring home any pet, including a white-eared conure, make sure you’re prepared for the cost and time commitment involved. Social white-eared conures won’t be happy living in a home where they must stay alone for long periods of time. They want to be part of the family and will bring many hours of joy and silly antics along with them!


Featured Image Credit: TIRIBA-DE-ORELHA-BRANCA,Herculano Batista Neto, Flickr, Attibution CC 2.0





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