New member
Mar 18, 2017
Capital of Texas
Green-cheek conure, Quaker parakeet
I find it amazing how much parrot taxonomy has changed since I started keeping parrots. When I started, parrots were treated as one family within the order, and though there were obvious similarities between some genera compared to other, classifications were relatively flat. Genetics has given us a much clearer picture of the cladistic relationships of parrots, and at least five families are recognized, as well as three superfamilies and quite a large number of subfamilies and tribes.

One of the biggest changes is among the conures. When I was starting out, pretty much everything said that in aviculture there are two main genera of conure: Aratinga and Pyrhurra, with three conures in their own genus (nanday, Patagonian, and Queen-of-Bavaria), and a few other groups of conures which were rarely, if ever, kept in captivity. Writers would note that the nandays were similar to some of the Aratinga spp. in care and personality, while most of the Aratinga were somewhat different from the more popular suns and jendays.

A few years ago there was a substantial revision to conure phylogeny based on genetics, and today the nandays are considered part of Aratinga while three other groups split from it as Eupsittula (mid-sized green conures with some orange and/or brown coloration), Psittacara (large green conures with some red coloration), and Thectocercus (blue-crowned conures). What's interesting about this to me is that 1. the new classification groups all of the noisiest conures into one group, and 2. Howard Voren (one of the few people who had reliable information about parrots online when I was starting out), wrote an article on the breeding habits of conures which identified both the the distinctness of these groups (though not of the blue-crowned conure from the green and red group) from Aratinga, as well as the similarity of the nanday to the rest of the genus.

What I do think that this shows is that it makes sense when writing about large groups of parrots to classify them based on similarities in behavior rather than scientific classification. The classifications can change as we get new evidence, and it looks like (among species we know are fairly closely-related anyhow), behavior is a big clue when classifying parrots, a bigger one than the physiological features scientists used before genetics.

On a somewhat related note: while we've known for awhile that the macaws are basically a specialized group of conures, it appears that the Queen-of-Bavaria conure and Aratinga spp. may also be nestled within the macaws. The position of the Queen-of-Bavaria conure doesn't surprise me; I've always thought it looked more like a macaw with that giant beak than a conure, but the position of Aratinga conures, if borne out in future studies, are more surprising. (On the other hand, Spix's macaw also has a relatively small beak relative to other macaws, and is the only "macaw" species without a bald patch at the base of its beak.) If in fact this is correct, "macaws" and "conures" are so intermixed that there's no real distinction. On the other hand, if future studies show it's just the Queen-of-Bavaria conure, we cold start calling it a mini-macaw and say that macaws are basically conures with large beaks.


May 10, 2016
Black Capped Conure - Sassafras - 2015; GCC Rosalita - 2018; GCC Apple Blossom - 2018
Wow! You are obviously very well informed.
If you're interested, you may find the writings of Rosemary Low interesting. Also, Voren wrote an interesting memoir about his early days in aviculture, "Jungle Birds in the Living Room".


Well-known member
Feb 6, 2010
Maryland - USA
Parker - male Eclectus

Aphrodite - red throated conure (RIP)
Ok, My degree is in ecology, but I swear all I could see in your subject line was parrot TAXIDERMY.


Well-known member
Parrot of the Month 🏆
May 14, 2016
Cleveland area
The Rickeybird, 38-year-old Patagonian Conure
Thank you!
I'm gonna re-read and digest all this.
I was told by a learned person that conures all had eye patches, whereas macaws had facial patches.
My Patagonian is of course, the only burrowing parrot, which has always fascinated me. What a singular behavior!

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