Maybe it’s the appeal of feathery snuggles or the hope of whistling tunes together. Or maybe you are looking for a lifelong companion… With their hilarious personalities and intelligence, birds make wonderful pets. But which pet bird is right for you? This guide can serve to introduce you to the most popular pet bird species and give some pointers to help you choose which bird species is right for you!
There are a few things to consider before buying any bird. No matter the type, pet birds require a hearty investment of both your money and time. Birds, especially parrots, are incredibly social and intelligent creatures. All birds need a lot of human attention – a minimum of two hours per day out of the cage, even for beginner birds. If you have the time and resources to dedicate, a pet bird makes the perfect companion!
A few bird species appeal more to families and first-time bird owners. Budgies, cockatiels, and lovebirds make great companions and are generally more amicable than their larger cousins.
Incredibly popular as a first pet, budgies, also called parakeets or budgerigars, make a great choice for kids. These wee birds can grace your home with their pretty colors and jovial companionship. They love playtime and will enjoy riding around on your shoulder and playing with echoes and mirrors. You can find them in blues and grays to greens and yellows. Relatively quiet compared to some of the squawkers on this list, budgies can still learn to whistle or talk. Budgies specifically are native to Australia, though there are over 100 species of parakeet worldwide.
Want a little bird with some spunk? The cockatiel has a sweet personality with a mohawked rocker look and is another excellent choice for beginner bird owners. Along with their crest, cockatiels are known for bright orange cheek spots. Outside these traits, cockatiels come in a variety of patterns, including grays, whites, and yellows. Another Australian native, these birds travel in flocks around the inland forests, looking for seeds and handing with their friends.
Cockatiels are very friendly and affectionate. A popular pet bird for kids, cockatiels love cuddling, head-scratches, and generally spending time with you. They love riding around on shoulders and being a part of your day. As a bonus, cockatiels can learn to whistle tunes, though males are more likely to pick up a melody than females.
A bit more inquisitive and exploratory than the other small birds, the lovebird can be a sweet first pet bird. Once tamed, lovebirds love to play and are known for exploring pockets and shirtsleeves and playing with jewelry and toys. They love human attention and will bob around to catch your eye.
In general, lovebirds are extremely sweet and make a great companion for a family. However, there are a few things to note. Compared to budgies and cockatiels, lovebirds both have a much louder shriek and a much stronger bite. If they want attention or are annoyed at you, they will let you know. If you choose a lovebird, be prepared to dedicate time for play and training.
If you have some experience raising and training birds, you might consider one of the larger advanced parrots. In general, the bigger the species, the more intelligent and higher maintenance birds. These pet bird species are a true step up in need for your time. Your lifestyle needs to be conducive to lots of training attention, as well as a commitment to their longer lifespans. Note that most of these bird species bond to a single human and can inflict a powerful bite. All of these birds need to be supervised around children.
Little birds with a big personality, parrotlets are tiny, blue and green punks! Their size makes them easier to handle, though don’t assume these tiny squeakers to be as docile as a budgie. They are more similar to a macaw in temperament and have high requirements for attention and training. Parrotlets are a great choice for the more advanced pet owner who lives in an apartment!
The socialites of Central and South America, Conures love to play and have a sneaky sense of humor. Coming in a wide variety of bright colors, conures are incredibly beautiful birds. They love playtime and use their bills to explore. Giving them plenty of toys to chew will entertain them and protect your furniture! If well-socialized, they make the perfect companion for the whole family. Though if they haven’t had proper training, they are known to have screeching outbursts and pretty hard bites.
Big, beautiful, and boisterous, a macaw on the shoulder is a classic image that comes to mind of a pet bird. Native to Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands, there are a handful of species that come in a variety of colors. From the gorgeous blue of the hyacinth macaw to the primary patterns of the scarlet macaw, these parrot species undoubtedly add eye-catching drama to your life. These big birds come with big personalities! Another formidable pet for beginners, they can be delightful, sociable companions with the proper training and attention.
Known as the most intelligent bird on the planet, African Greys are a pet to impress. Native to central Africa, the United Nations has banned the trade of this genius bird due to its declining population. So if you’re in the market for an African Grey, find a reputable breeder!
Besides beating Harvard students in a memory test, African Greys make very entertaining pets. They form incredibly close bonds, though usually just to a single human. They need lots of attention and mental stimulation.
The cuddle bugs of the bird world, cockatoos bring beauty and fun to a bird-lover’s life. They are known for being extremely affectionate and bonding closely with their owners. Silly birds, cockatoos put on entertaining dances and have even been known to keep a beat. This great personality must be earned, however, with plenty of attention and proper training. Without the proper care, cockatoos can be self-destructive. Cockatoos have a high surrender rate, meaning that many people tried adopting them before realizing they were too much effort.
Whichever pet bird species you choose, the next step is to find a reputable breeder. While many pet shops offer a variety of parrots, some source them from bird mills that value profits over the sweet lives of the birds. Check out your local aviculture society or exotic bird club to get recommendations for a breeder that loves and cares about the birds as much as you do!
Last tip: before adopting, find a well-reviewed avian vet in your area. It’s good to be connected with one before your bird gets sick. Because they are prey animals, birds hide signs of illness, so all birds benefit from yearly checkups.
Now that you’ve found a breeder and a vet, you are ready to adopt! We wish you the happiest days with your sweet feathered friend!