Everything You Need to Know About the Nanday Conure

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Guide to the Nanday Conure BirdThe Nanday Conure is one of the most commonly kept conures when it comes to keeping these brilliant birds as pets. With a good level of care, these birds can provide companionship and entertainment for twenty plus years. In this article we will cover a number of things you need to know in order to keep a healthy Nanday Conure including: determining whether this is the right pet choice for you, life in captivity, diet, behavior and preferred habitat.

What is the Nanday Conure?

The Nanday Conure is commonly recognized as the Nanday Parakeet, the Black hooded Parakeet and the Aratinga nenday. This brightly colored bird is a member of the Psittacidae family making it a true parrot. The Nanday Conure is native to South America; however, over the years caged Nanday Conures have been released in to the wild in North America and have gone on to establish populations in Miami Dade county in Florida, Broward county in Florida, St. Petersburg in Florida and Los Angeles in California.

What Does the Nanday Conure Look Like?

The Nanday Conure is approximately twelve and a half to fourteen and a half inches long and like many Conures it is primarily bright green in color. The most distinguishing physical factor that sets this conure apart from other species is the black “hood” from which this species gets the nickname the “black hooded parakeet.” The black facial markings appear in the shape of a hood or a mask over the face and beak. The Nanday Conure can also be identified by the presence of black trailing flight feathers on their wings and a blue tip to their long tail. The thigh feathers of the Nanday Conure are usually red in color and the upper portion of the chest is a blue-green hue where the lower area of the chest is a much paler green tone.

Taxonomy of the Nanday Conure

The Nanday Conure is a member of the Aratinga genus in the Arini tribe which is a subsection of the Psittacinae subfamily in the Psittaciformes order. The Nanday Conure is also obviously a member of the Aves class being that it is a bird.

The Aves Class

The aves class is the class of creatures which includes all birds. Aves are characterized by the presence of feathered body’s and wings. All birds are bipedal and warm-blooded and are also recognized by their ability to lay eggs. There are believed to be approximately 10,000 species of birds currently living with a large number of additional species that have become extinct. The largest of all species of bird is the ostrich which can measure in at around nine feet, the smallest of bird species is the bee hummingbird which measures in at just two inches! This incredible contrast in size is just one of the incredibly diverse characteristics that can be seen in bird species. There is a little controversy as to the origin of the aves class; however, most biologists believe that these feathered creatures evolved from theropod dinosaurs that were walking the Earth during the late Jurassic period some 150 million years ago! It seems somewhat ridiculous to look at birds as being related to dinosaurs however, a large number of the later dinosaurs of the late Jurassic period had begun to show birdlike qualities. Since their beginning, birds have been constantly developing in order to optimize themselves for flight and this includes the development of light skeletons, a four chambered heart, a high metabolic rate, evolved forelimbs and unique respiratory and digestive systems which are adapted to allow the bird to thrive even when flying.

The Psittaciformes Order

Birds that fall within the Psittaciformes order are most commonly referred to simply as parrots. There are currently believed to be approximately 86 genera of parrot that are divided in to 372 species. Unlike many other birds, parrots are tropical and subtropical birds and cannot thrive naturally in areas that experience colder climates. There are three families of parrot that are currently recognized by biologists: the Psittacidae or the true parrots, the Cacatuidae or the cockatoos and the Strigopidae or the New Zealand parrots. The Nanday Conure is a member of the Psittacidae or true parrot’s family. It is believed that the birds in the Psittaciformes order have been in existence since the early Eocene period dating back to some 54 million years ago. Most species of parrot are naturally found dispersed throughout South America and Australasia.

Parrots are characterized by the existence of a strong and curved bill, zygodactyl feet, bright coloration, an upright stance and strong legs. There are few examples of sexual dimorphism in parrot species and as such it can be difficult to visually determine the sex of a single parrot. The parrot is recognized as being one of the most intelligent birds on the planet in addition to magpies, jays, ravens and crows.

The Psittacidae Family

The Psittacidae family is a family of birds most commonly referred to as “true parrots.” The majority of birds that people accurately identify as being parrots belong to this family. Of all of the families of the Psittaciformes order the Psittacidae family is one of the most widespread in terms of species and can be found throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas and eastward over the Atlantic Ocean. For the most part these brilliantly colored and highly intelligent birds are known for forming monogamous pair bonds in addition to nesting within cavities. The most commonly recognized of all parrot species to the layman is currently the macaw although with a little education many people are able to distinguish between many of the different types of birds within the Psittacidae family.

The Psittacinae Subfamily

The Psittacinae subfamily is a subfamily of the Psittacinae family that is recognized for housing not only parrots as we know them but also for housing macaws and parakeets. It is important to understand however, that this subfamily does not include cockatoos, Lories and lorikeets.

The Arini Tribe

The Arini tribe is otherwise referred to as the “neotropical parrot.” Parrots that fall within this particular tribe are believed to have been mostly distinct as species by the Pleistocene era few million years ago. There are currently two recognized groups within the Arini tribe; these include the long-tailed and the short-tailed parrot.

The Aratinga Genus

The Aratinga genus is a group of parrots within the Arini tribe that are native to the Americas. These birds are more often referred to as parakeets and they fall in to the long-tailed category of the Arini tribe. Most birds that fall in to the Aratinga genus are green in color although they are often splashed with a little color variety once in a while as well. Birds in the Aratinga genus are particularly sociable birds and appear to have a personality of their own. A significant number of species from the Aratinga genus are commonly kept as pets. Birds from this genus tend to make good pets when cared for properly not only because of their natural beauty but also because of their particular intelligence and sociability.

The Aratinga Nenday

The Aratinga Nenday or the Nanday Conure is just one species within the Aratinga genus. Many people appreciate keeping the Nanday Conure as a pet because of the personality of this bird on the whole. This brightly colored parakeet is not only intelligent and social but it is outgoing and also possesses the ability to learn how to speak. While the Nanday Conure does have the ability to speak this is not a characteristic that is particularly well known about these birds and, in fact, many books on the Nanday Conure state that these birds cannot be taught how to speak at all! If left without enough stimulation this intelligent bird will become bored easily and without adequate toys to keep it entertained, life with a Nanday Conure can become a nightmare. There are some who offer training courses to help to tame the Nanday Conure in an effort to help to make this wild bird a more captive friendly bird but these are particularly adaptive creatures and with a healthy routine they can easily thrive in captivity.

Like many parrots, the Nanday Conure is from a tropical environment and is used to having large areas in which to roam but fortunately most pet Nanday Conures these days have been bred in captivity which relieves much of the stress in adapting to captive life with a new owner. Despite being raised in captivity many times, captive Nanday Conures can still be shy and prefer not to be handled excessively during the first few weeks in their new home. It will take a while for the captive bird to warm up to having a new environment as well as new companions so it is recommended that handling be kept to a minimum and the bird be allowed time to adjust to its new surroundings.

The Natural Habitat of the Nanday Conure versus the Captive Habitat of the Nanday Conure

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In the wild the Nanday Conure prefers to make its home in hollowed out areas of trees or other cubbyhole type of homes. While this bird prefers a somewhat snug and safe home life, they are particularly used to being able to fly freely so it is important when keeping one that they are provided with a large enough living space to be happy in. Since these tropical birds are used to having large areas in which to fly it is highly recommended that when kept in captivity that these birds are given a fly cage in which they can stretch their wings and experience a little more freedom! When looking at regular cages in which to keep your Nanday Conure, be sure that your bird is at least able to open their wings fully and spread out in their cage.

Picking the right cage for your Nanday Conure can be a task when you aren’t sure what you are looking for but the best option is always to consult a professional at your local breeder, or by talking to the local pet store before purchasing your bird. The minimum recommended size for a Nanday Conure is 20” x 20” x 36” however if you are looking to purchase a pair of Nanday Conure’s the larger the cage the better. It is advised to purchase more than a single Nanday Conure because of the fact that these birds are so sociable and can easily become lonely when left to live a solitary life. It is also important to ensure that your bird is provided with enough toys to keep them entertained because boredom can quickly lead to destructive behavior in any intelligent creature that is lacking entertainment or exercise.

Stocking Your Nanday Conure Cage

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As mentioned above it is important to keep your Nanday Conure entertained which means that there should be plenty of toys available that you can switch out each time you clean your bird’s cage. It is also important to provide swings and perches so that your bird is able to sit comfortably within its cage. When choosing perches for your bird it is important to provide multiple ones that have varying lengths and thickness. Having varied thickness in perch size is significant because it allows for exercise of the bird’s feet and helps to prevent degenerative diseases like arthritis from setting in. Another important thing to keep in your new bird’s cage is chew toys. There are plenty of chew toys available for birds kept in captivity and it is important to purchase a number of these so that they can be quickly and easily replaced when they begin to show signs of wear.

Grooming Your Nanday Conure

Another important aspect of keeping a healthy cage for your Nanday Conure is ensuring that your bird has a water supply in which to bathe. In the wild these birds frequently bathe themselves by standing in the rain and cleaning. It is not particularly easy to replicate a shower in your bird’s cage, but you can provide a shallow water dish which your bird can use for bathing. One of the better types of dish to use for this purpose is a pie dish because it is shallow and wide enough for your bird to bathe in without experiencing any difficulties. Another method that people often use is spray misting their bird with a spray bottle to allow them to clean themselves.

Feeding Your Nanday Conure

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In the wild the Nanday Conure feeds most commonly on berries, nuts, flowers, fruits, insects, grains, grass seeds and flower buds. The vast diet variety and the extreme amount of food that is available to the Nanday Conure in the wild is not necessarily healthy for the Nanday Conure being kept in captivity however since exercise levels are limited in captivity. Most commonly when kept in captivity the Nanday Conure is fed with a special pellet diet formulated specifically for the Nanday Conure. The benefit to feeding this type of diet is that the food is nutritionally formulated to suit the needs of the Nanday Conure. There is however a couple of drawbacks to feeding only a pellet based diet, most commonly the biggest issue with this diet is that soon your bird will become bored and no longer interested in their food. A second concern with a diet composed solely of pellets is that it does not include phytonutrients that these birds obtain in the wild from fresh foods. Phytonutrients help to improve the immune system of these birds and prevent disease. Varying a diet for the Nanday Conure is the best way to ensure that your bird obtains all necessary nutrients in addition to enjoying a variation in food staples. Some of the commonly fed items for the captive Nanday Conure include chopped eggs, cheese, raisins, broccoli, chopped green and orange vegetables, dark orange fruit, grapes, diced apples and pomegranates.

It is crucial to remember never to feed your Nanday Conure avocados, chocolate, coffee or salt. These things can be extremely toxic and cause a significant amount of damage to your bird.

Is the Nanday Conure the Right Pet For You?

Only you can decide whether the Nanday Conure is the right choice for you as far as bringing a new pet home. There are many things to consider however, and it is easy to overlook any one factor in the excitement at the possibility of a new pet. Sometimes it can be easier to find a professional who is familiar with caring for birds and to ask them whether they feel that you are prepared and well suited to owning a Nanday Conure. Some of the things that you should take in to consideration when deciding whether this intelligent bird is the right choice for you, include:

  • Do you have space to provide a comfortable home for your new bird?
  • Are you prepared to dedicate some twenty plus years to caring for this bird?
  • Can you provide daily supervised time for your bird to exercise outside of its cage?
  • Will you, your family or your neighbors become irritated with the sounds that your bird will make?
  • Are you responsible enough to care for your new bird?
  • Are you financially able to address any medical needs that your bird may develop?
  • Are you financially able to provide clean substrate and healthy food for your bird?
  • Can you afford everything you need to set up a healthy home for your new bird?
  • Does anyone in your home have allergies that may prevent you from being able to care for this bird throughout its long lifespan?

Video: Nanday Conure doing Tricks

Want to see this bird in action? Check out Jay Jay the Nanday Conure doing a series of pet tricks including high five and shake. Just like a dog!


There are only a few of the questions that you need to ask yourself when preparing to adopt a Nanday Conure in to your home. There are certainly plenty more, but if you answered positively to the questions above then a Nanday Conure could be the right pet choice for you!

What do you love most about the Nanday Conure?

Sadie is a vegetarian and an avid recycler who loves riding her bike and practicing yoga. She is passionate about the planet, conserving life’s precious resources and making the world a better place for generations to come. A big fan of up-cycling, Sadie loves yard sales and vintage stores to find new uses for old things. She loves to cook, clean and enjoy the many parks and outdoor spaces in DC where she currently resides with her husband.

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7 Comments on "Everything You Need to Know About the Nanday Conure"

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Tina Underwood
Tina Underwood

How can you tell if you have a male or female nanday conure ?

miguel
miguel

Hey I have a female nanday and she took out her feathers off her chest why for?

Alaina
Alaina

it is common most birds molt and they will grow them back but if it continues take her to a vet

Joie AndLamar Starling
Joie AndLamar Starling

I will be the first comment. Have been owned by a Nanday (Ninja ) for 21 yrs. 1st article I have read that is on the money. Lots of attention, love & activity. Ninja does fly, a lot. Has the run of the house. And a huge cage, more suitable in size for a large cockatoo or small macaw. Abducted an armoire years ago, which is where he sleeps every night. In his ‘nest’, complete with snuggle material. In his ‘hole’. 2 floor conure condo. Trained 2 dogs, and yes, has gotten out maybe 6 times. Hangs out an hour or two, flies back, never leaving the yard. Talks when he wants to. Eats seed/pellet mix AND your food, too. Rice, pasta, veggies, pork & steak fat, bread, cereal – NOT the healthy kind-fruit loops & fruity pebbles r faves. No interest in Chex or raisin bran & knows the boxes! Nuts, cheese-its, he knows his stuff! Not a pet for everybody! Wouldn’t trade him for the world.

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