Conures are a group of long-tailed parakeets from Central and South America. These birds range in size from just under 9-inches to 18-inches long and come in eight different genera. The two genera that we are most familiar with as companion conures are the Pyrrhura and the Aratinga conures.
The Pyrrhura conures are the smallest conures, usually not much more than 8 inches from beak to tail. Pyrrhura includes the diminutive green cheeks and black-capped conures, which are about the size of a cockatiel. In the wild, these little birds learn their social and survival skills from their parents and other family or flock members until they become independent at 4 to 6 months old. These high-energy little birds they can start to exhibit sexual behaviors at about 10 to 12 months or even a bit younger. However they are still sexually immature, and it is preferable not to have them breed until they are closer to 2 years of age.
The word Aratinga is Latin for "little macaw” and Aratinga conures share many traits with their larger macaw cousins. Many of the Aratinga conures are almost as large as the smallest mini-macaw, the Hahn’s macaw and share many of the same traits. The Aratinga range in size from the orange-fronted conure at about 9 ½ inches to the mitred conure at 15 inches. The Aratinga conures reach maturity at about 2 years or older and several of the species don’t show their full colors until this age.
Other well-known conures that are neither Aratinga or Pyrrhura include the largest conure at 18 inches, the Patagonian conure. The Patagonian conure is unique in that it nests along the cliffs along river beds. Probably the two most unique conures are the related Austral and slender-billed conure. My slender-billed conure is so different from any other parrots I have known. She is one of the most playful birds I have ever seen. I have been told that the wild slender bills from southern Chile are one of the fastest and most accomplished flyers. Evidently when researchers are trying to catch them in a mist net for banding, they avoid it by changing direction form horizontal to vertical in a heartbeat.