Does your shoulder have a vacancy for a beautiful feathered companion?
Birds can be intelligent, entertaining, highly sociable pets. Match with the right kind, and you’re sure to fall in love.
There are dozens of domesticated bird species to choose from. They’re all stunning and wonderful to own. Your ideal bird will match your expectations, your lifestyle and your budget.
Intelligent birds can be taught amazing tricks and interact with you as well as a human toddler, but they generally need more time and attention than other species.
Some birds can live for decades, which is wonderful if your family is compatible with them so they will never be without a loving home.
Some birds require expansive habitats, while others can spend much of their time in a cage.
Here’s what you need to know about 8 of the most popular pet bird species:
Doves and pigeons are in the same family as the now-extinct dodo. They’re often kept in flocks, in outdoor aviaries, but must be protected against predators and cold weather.
Lifespan: About 15 years
Size: 16-24 inches in length
Personality: Some birds are sociable, especially if handled at a young age.
Special skills: learns best with repetition and rewards, taught to return to their home, can be partially potty trained.
Said to have the personality of a parrot, though smaller and easier to care for. They can be very vocal, sassy, even demanding, if they are not fed on time or given enough attention.
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Size: 7 inches in height without the tail
Personality: Sociable, intelligent, affectionate.
Special skills: learns best with repetition and rewards, nearly as intelligent as a toddler, though unable to speak. Sings and dances to music. Can learn to solve puzzles – including locks on their cage.
Also known as an Australian Budgerigar or budgie, the parakeet is commonly found in pet shops. They’re usually quite “cheep”, but this gives them the disadvantage of not being seen as “throwaway pets.” They can live up to fifteen years in captivity, but most do not live nearly that long due to neglect and improper care.
Lifespan: Up to 15 years
Size: 5 inches in height without the tail
Personality: Sociable, affectionate, loyal.
Special skills: Parakeets are not notably intelligent, but they do recognize their owners and look forward to the interaction. They can be taught simple tricks and some learn to say a few simple phrases. Males are more likely to learn to speak than females.
Also known as the Monk parrot, the Quaker parrot has a similar personality and ability to speak as larger parrots, though they are less expensive to keep. They love to chew and will destroy furniture if not supervised and given appropriate chew toys. They breed quickly and are considered pests in some regions, and are illegal to own in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wyoming.
Lifespan: Up to 30 years
Size: 12 inches in length
Personality: Talkative, friendly, mischievous.
Special Skills: Can speak, learn tricks and bond with their owners, and are also known for the “Quaker shake” – they bob their heads in a way that looks somewhat like a tremor, but is actually perfectly normal.
Cockatiels are clever birds that can be very affectionate if tamed at an early age. They often get used to routines and seek out attention from their human family.
Lifespan: 20 years or more
Size: 13 inches in length
Personality: Typically friendly and affectionate, but not clingy or over-protective. Can be taught to be independent.
Special Skills: Highly intelligent, needs plenty of human interaction. Can learn to imitate human speech. Males typically learn to speak, while females do not. Can be trained to do tricks and solve puzzles.
These sweet songbirds were once used to help miners determine if a coal mine was safe. Small and attractive, canaries are easy to care for, making them popular pets for beginner pet owners.
Lifespan: Up to 10 years
Size: 5 inches in length
Personality: Though canaries are not notably intelligent, they are affectionate and sociable.
Special Skills: Male canaries love to sing; females do tweet, but they are not as melodious as males. All canaries can learn simple tricks and look forward to meals and affection from their owners.
One of the longest-living and most intelligent domestic birds, the African grey is a high-maintenance, long-term commitment pet. They’re highly communicative and can have the intelligence and sensitivity of a 5-year-old human child.
Lifespan: Up to 80 years
Size: 13 inches in length
Personality: Generally quiet, though talkative; they do not scream or screech. Their brilliant mind needs plenty of mental stimulation, or they may pluck their own feathers out of boredom.
Special Skills: While most domestic birds simply mimic speech and sound without understanding meaning, African grey parrots develop large vocabularies and can actually use words with context.
Lifespan: 50-70 years
Size: 18-24 inches in length
Personality: Highly sociable and eager to please. They also tend to scream, and can be messy and mischievous, tossing their bedding and food, so they are commonly given up for adoption. They’re much like human toddlers – cute, cuddly and responsive, but love to get into trouble.
Special Skills: Capable of learning speech and communicating as effectively as a 3-year-old child, learning tricks, and throwing epic tantrums.
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