Best Pet Birds

People have been keeping birds as pets and companions for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and many other older civilizations kept birds as pets. It seems only natural for someone to want to have a bird as a pet. But how do you pick the right one?

Learn what you need to have to keep a bird as a pet, and how to pick the best type for you and your family.

What Kind of Home Can You Provide?

Some breeds of pet birds can live for decades, or even as long as some people do. Choose your bird carefully. You may end up providing for them longer than you provided for your children.

The type of bird that is best for you depends on what kind of environment you’ll provide for them. You’ll also need to figure out how much time you have to dedicate to a pet bird. Many of the most popular breeds need a lot of attention.

The first things to think about when you’re looking at a bird companion are how much room you can provide for them and how they will affect your home environment. If you live in a small apartment with thin walls, a large vocal species of bird may not be the best one for you.

If you have plenty of space and don’t mind the noise, a bigger species might be just right. You’ll need to have enough room for your bird to have occasional monitored flights in your home.

You should be interested in having a pet that you want to spend time with. Most companion bird species are social creatures. They need to have this requirement met or they can develop depression and behavioral problems. 

Your bird should be carefully watched for any signs of sickness, like excessive feather plucking, so that you can get them to the avian veterinarian as soon as possible. Pet birds also need maintenance such as nail trimming or beak trimming to stay healthy.

Types of Pet Birds

Parakeets. Well-known for being good pets, the Budgerigar, budgie, or parakeet is a small and friendly bird. They don’t take up much space and are very social. Parakeets tend to bond well with their owners if they are cared for correctly.

Continued

Parakeets are lower maintenance than many other pet bird breeds. They can learn tricks and learn to talk. These little birds are chipper and can live out their lives comfortably in a larger cage as long as they have things to do. Just be sure to spend a few hours a day with your budgie.

From tip to tail, parakeets grow to between 6 and 8 inches and weigh about 1 ounce. Budgies bond well with people and make great companions. You may find that your fun-loving bird can be a bit of a messy eater and dropper. Be prepared to clean bowls, cages, and wherever else they throw things.

Finch. The finch is another small and friendly bird that works well as a quiet pet bird. They generally average about 4 inches in size. One of the finches' best features is that they prefer to socialize with other finches rather than with people. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance bird and don’t mind having more than one in a large cage, finches could be a good choice.

They’re much smaller than parakeets, topping out at around 4 inches and half an ounce. Finches are also reasonably quiet birds. They make noise, just not as much loud noise, as some of the larger breeds of birds.

Canary. A bird-lover favorite, the canary is a brightly colored bird. Similar to the finch, they don’t create a lot of loud noise. They don’t need much time outside of a cage if it is large enough for them to fly a bit.

Canaries don’t need much attention from people. Someone that wants time with their bird may not like them as much. Canaries are not as messy as parakeets in general, but they do measure and weigh about the same. 

Doves. Many people haven’t thought of having a dove as a companion bird, but these gentle and beautiful birds make excellent pets. Doves are medium-sized. They grow anywhere between 5 and 30 inches. They may weigh between 1 ounce and 4 pounds.

Continued

Doves don’t need much attention from humans. They do need to get out of their cages for a few hours a day for some exercise.

Cockatoo. The cockatoo belongs to the parrot species. They’re most noticeable for the plumage on top of their head that they can stand up. They are a vocal bird and can be highly entertaining for the right person.

Cockatoos are large birds. They can grow up to 18 inches in length and weigh up to 26 ounces, or about 1.7 pounds. Depending on the species, they can live for anywhere from 10 to 60 years. The most popular breeds are the umbrella, sulfur-crested, and Moluccan (salmon-crested) cockatoo.

These birds love their human companions, so be sure that you have the desire and time to spend with them. They prefer to be by your side. They can quickly sink into a depression without enough socialization.

As a large bird, they are a bit messy. They will require beak and nail maintenance. You’ll also need a large cage for them to sleep in, and a home that is large enough for them to fly around.

Macaw. There are several species of macaws that are kept as companion birds. The most well-known breed of this parrot is the blue-and-gold macaw made popular by pirate fiction. Macaws can have cages, but they are happiest when outside of them with the humans they enjoy being around. They enjoy playing and learning tricks. Talking, interacting, and screaming are three of their favorite past-times.

Blue-and-golds have lifespans of more than 50 years and are very intelligent. They can grow up to 36 inches and weigh up to 4 pounds.

Owning a Bird Is a Commitment

Other than the basic necessities of room to fly and time outside of their cages, the bird you choose should fit your personality. They should also be fun for you, given that some companion birds can live as long as you do. 

Pet birds take commitment and time, which is why they end up in shelters soon after being adopted. Many new bird owners don’t understand the time that birds need from their owners. Certain species might even outlive you, creating the need for you to make plans for them if they do.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on June 28, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

American Veterinary Medical Association: “Selecting a pet bird.”

The Spruce Pets: "Cockatoo: Bird Species Profile," "Diamond Dove: Species Profile." “Macaw Parrot: Bird Species Profile," "Society Finch: Bird Species Profile."

University of Michigan MUSEUM OF ZOOLOGY: “Columbidae doves and pigeons.”

VCA Animal Hospitals: “Budgies - General,” ‘Canaries - General,” “Cockatoos - General Information,” “Finches - General,” “Macaws - General.”

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Fetch in your inbox

Veterinarian-approved information to keep your pet healthy and happy.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.