Many people are instantly attracted to the striking beauty of a sun conure, and this attraction often leads to an impulse purchase, instead of the careful research needed to be sure that this is the right bird for them. The sun conure can be a loving, comical and devoted companion, but the path to bonding is not a short one. Patience, understanding and the realization that training will be an on-going process (with several bites along the way), is the key to your best chance of successfully bringing this intelligent beauty into your life.
How to Bond with a Sun Conure
Purchase a baby hand raised sun conure, as they are easier to bond with than an adult. You may have success with an adult, but it is generally more of a task to gain their trust, and you may have no way of knowing the bird's history regarding being handled by humans.2
Give the bird a safe, quiet space to live in and time to settle in. Place the cage in a corner, if possible; this will give her a little more sense of security. Do not place her by a window, as there may be more sights, sounds and movement from outside to make her nervous.3
Teach the sun conure to "step up," by calmly and slowly placing your hand near the bird, and saying "step up" while gently touching his chest. The bird may bite from fear or agitation. Do not flick his beak, hit or yell at him. Try to keep your hand in place, and try not to react to the bite. Give him the command once more. If he bites again, slowly pull your hand back and say "No." If the biting continues, turn your back and leave the room for several minutes. Once he succeeds at stepping up, give him a treat and cheerful praise.4
Introduce your sun conure to the other people in your home. Sun conures often bond with only one member of the household, meaning that everyone else is apt to be bitten or screamed at upon coming near her. Attempt to train her to be handled by more than one person, but do not be surprised if this does not happen. Realize that your bird may choose someone else as her favorite; try not to take it personally.5
Provide your sun conure with lots of toys; they all love to play and clown around. As you handle him more often, try laying him on his back in your hand, or on your lap. This is often one of the conure's favorite positions to play in, and if he allows you to do this, you will know you are gaining his trust. Make sure he has regular out of the cage time on his stand.6
Make sure your sun conure gets 11 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Lack of sleep can make your bird very crabby, and less likely to feel like interacting with you. Give her a quiet space in order for her to nap during the day, as well.7
Provide your bird with the proper nutrition each day. Sun conures need lots of fruits and vegetables in their diets, as well as conure or cockatiel seed mix, pelleted food and occasionally, a few nuts. If your bird is not fed properly, he may not feel well enough to bother with bonding. For a list of foods to offer, and foods to avoid, see the resources section.