Birds can make for some of the most gentle, friendly, and long-lived pets you can invite into your home. Our Astoria vets give their recommendations for 10 of the best types of companion birds to brighten up your home.
The Types of Birds Pet Owners Love
While birds make for excellent feathered friends, not all birds are equally well-suited to domesticated life.
In this post, we list 10 of the most common types of pet birds. They are all intelligent, friendly species able to learn a few tricks and bringing some colorful plumage to your home! With a little work, some of them can even hold a bit of conversation.
Since every bird has different needs for exceptional care, we're here to help you choose a feathery friend that complements your lifestyle.
With all types of pet birds, always buy from a reputable bird store or breeder. The best pets are healthy, well-socialized birds.
You'll also need to find a veterinarian with experience in avian and exotic pet care so all of your bird's veterinary needs will be met.
As the smallest pet bird belonging to the parrot family, the lovebird is the complete opposite of their cousin, the hyacinth macaw.
Don't underestimate these little birds, as they can offer all the personality and affection of their larger counterparts. The reputation of the lovebird precedes it; they form loving, attentive bonds with their mates and owners. It's not necessary to keep them in pairs, as many believe they do. In fact, a single bird is best if you want an animal that will early bond with its human flock. That said, a pair of lovebirds will make be great companions to each other, and owners won't feel as much pressure to provide for all their social needs.
While lovebirds are easier pets than larger parrots, they are not the easiest pet birds to care for. Think of them as being a step up from other common kinds of pet birds known for being more gentle, such as parakeets and doves. Lovebirds may occasionally try to show dominance through aggression or nipping and are known to test boundaries - something that may dissuade people with young children to consider.
Weight: 2 ounces
Length: 5 to 6 inches
Physical Characteristics: Mostly green, orange upper body and head, blue lower back and rump, red beak, white eyerings
Lifespan: If properly cared for lovebirds, can easily eclipse lifespans of 20+ years.
Known as a gentle giant, the mighty hyacinth macaw is the largest parrot. While not everyone will have the space to care for them, those who do may form an enduring and deep friendship with these extremely cuddly and social birds.
Hyacinth macaws want nothing more than affection from their humans and love to be handled by their owners. Their eye-catching cobalt blue plumage, curved beak and yellow surrounding their eyes make them look as if they're wearing a perpetual smile.
You'll need the means to care for this bird, as the hyacinth macaw is pricier than most types of pet birds and will need a well above average-sized space to call its own. In return, you'll have a lifelong companion in these beautiful boys, as they can live for more than 30 years when properly cared for.
Weight: 42 to 51 ounces
Length: 40 inches
Physical Characteristics: Solid blue plumage; yellow patches around eyes and beak; black beak; dark gray feet
Lifespan: Often live 30+ years
Doves aren't typically overdemanding of their owners' attention and time, but rest assure they'll enjoy your time together. This makes them the ideal type of pet bird for owners who have busier lives or who cannot be home all the time.
These easygoing birds can be incredibly sweet and gentle domestic pets, as you'll find when you handle or hand feed them.
Nonetheless, they are social creatures. If kept alone, they should be afforded plenty of time to fly about and interact with their human caretakers. Older children may be great matches for doves as they may be more likely to understand the importance of gentle handling. Their soothing coos have attracted many a dove owner.
Unlike parrots, doves are unable to climb up and down cage bars. Instead, they need perches to fly to and from. Despite the fact they are tiny birds, they'll need a huge cage to feel at home.
Weight: 5 to 8 ounces
Length: 11 to 13 inches
Physical Characteristics: Brown and dull gray feathers, black eyes, beak, and a collar surrounding the neck. Alternative colors include orange, white and pied (ring-necked doves).
Lifespan: When well cared for a pet dove can live from 8-15 years depending on the species.
Parakeets (AKA Budgies or Budgerigars)
Parakeets are perhaps the most popular type of pet bird the world over. They are exceptionally affectionate and friendly companion birds when properly trained and cared for.
Parakeets are among the most low-maintenance types of birds kept as pets, being among the smallest companion birds as well as relatively easy to train in their youth. Males especially are known to be great birds for first-time owners, as they bond easily with their owners and are simple to train.
Noted for their beautiful and varied feathers, parakeets are very active and playful birds eager to please. Parakeets are talking birds who can be taught to mimic spoken phrases as a delightful party trick.
When left to their own devices, parakeets are singing birds, filling your home with the sounds of happy chirping! Parakeets can be kept as single pets or in pairs. Once you've settled in and trained your first parakeet, they are great birds to consider adding a second, as they'll love having a playmate when you're away!
Weight: 1 ounce
Length: 6 to 8 inches
Physical Characteristics: Found in a variety of colors including neon green, yellow, blue, violet, and more with black bars on the head, wings, and back.
Lifespan: When cared for properly a pet budgie has a life expectancy of 7-15 years
Cockatiels are among the most communitive and emotional birds. Famed for the crest on the top of their head, they use it to communicate exactly how they are feeling to their flock (in this case, you!)
The crest on top of a cockatiel's head indicates the bird’s emotional state; a flattened head crest means the bird is fearful or angry; a completely vertical crest indicates your cockatiel is startled or excited.
While some manage to train their cockatiels to talk, they are much more well known for their quirk of mimicking sounds around them including phones, alarms, and even outdoor birds.
Female Cockatiels are among the most gentle of avian pets, while male cockatiels have a little extra spunk and are more inclined to mimic sounds and perform for their owners.
Perhaps the cutest thing about Cockatiels is their trademark whistle. Be sure to watch out for it. If they whistle for you, it’s a compliment, and cockatiels are a type of bird that whistles at things they like!
A member of the parrot family, these smart little birds crave social interaction and require an owner who can provide them with the time and attention they need to thrive and prevent loneliness, or depression. It’s recommended to keep cockatiels in pairs so they do not get lonely when you have to leave the home. Single cockatiels can be kept as pets, but they require near-constant attention from their owner to stay in high spirits. Another thing to consider before adopting cockatiels is that they require a very large cage filled with perches to get the right amount of exercise and feel comfortable in their home, so make sure you have enough space for a proper cockatiel habitat set aside.
Weight: 3 ounces
Length: 12 to 13 inches (adults)
Physical Characteristics: Predominantly gray feathers with orange spots around the ears and yellow and white accents. Males are yellow-headed while females are almost completely gray.
Lifespan: With proper love and care a pet cockatiel can easily live for 15-20 years. In rare cases, these birds have been known to live for as long as 30 years.
For centuries the canary has been a popular companion for birdkeepers. The canaries are a diverse bunch, having been bred into more than 200 breeds, each with its appearance and temperament.
The canaries are shyer than other birds on this list and do not like to be handled, so you might need to put in a little extra work to overcome their timid nature and bond with your new friend after taking a Canary home. Much like doves, canaries require a large flight cage to stay happy and healthy.
The canaries are famed for their singing voice, but it is only the males who sing. If you're looking to befriend a flighted bard to serenade your home a male canary may be the pet for you, while those seeking a more quiet friendship should look into caring for a female canary.
Weight: Less than 1 ounce
Length: 4 to 8 inches
Physical Characteristics: These lovely birds can be yellow or green, bright orange or brown. Known for their vibrant color and ability to carry a tune, canaries are ideal if you’re a beginner who isn’t sure if they want a bird that requires a lot of attention. While they’d prefer not to be handled, canaries are happy to play the entertaining beauty. But beware, these little birds are fragile and can be easily frightened.
Lifespan: The canaries typically live for between 9-10 years if well cared for, although in rare cases these little birds can live for 15 years or even longer!
African Grey Parrots
African grey parrots are a poor choice for first-time bird owners, but many veteran bird keepers have fallen in love with these demanding companions. African grey parrots are believed to be the smartest birds in the world and are capable of learning a huge vocabulary. Some African grey parrot owners report that their birds often seem to speak in context, and are very in tune with their handler's emotions.
Because of their outsized intelligence, these parrots need somewhere in the vicinity of 5 hours of stimulation every day to keep from falling into boredom or depression. They are easy to train once one is familiar with using positive reinforcement and operant conditioning as training methods, but some learning will be required for inexperienced bird owners. The attention demanded by these birds makes them a more advanced type of pet bird than most others. Those looking to make a serious commitment to a forever friend can find an intelligent and loving companion in an African grey parrot.
Weight: 15 to 18 ounces
Length: 13 inches
Physical Characteristics: Varying shades of gray on the body; with striking red tail feathers
Lifespan: Often live 30+ years
Pionus parrots are most renowned for being affectionate birds that still maintain their independence. While they're happy to socialize with their owners, this type of pet bird will be ok spending long hours on their own to amuse themselves with toys or exercise.
They are of medium size and require 3+ hours outside the cage every day to exercise, but are low maintenance compared to parrots of similar size and intelligence. Pionus parrots make for great first parrots, especially compared to more demanding macaws.
Because they are laid-back and relatively quiet birds, they are a great type of pet bird for apartment dwellers
Weight: 8 to 9 ounces
Length: 11 inches
Physical Characteristics: Blue head and neck; green body; black patches over ears; red on the underside of the tail; black beak with red sides
Lifespan: Often live 30 + years
The South American green-cheeked conure thrives on spending time socializing with their caretakers. Known to be a little mischievous, these intelligent and playful pranksters bond with their owners through their charming personalities and showmanship.
Compared to other species of conure, this type of pet bird tends to be much quieter, it is rare that they will learn how to talk.
If you're looking for a very friendly companion who is a little on the quieter side, then a green-cheeked conure might be perfect for you!
Weight: 2 to 3 ounces
Length: 10 to 11 inches
Physical Characteristics: Mostly green with gray head and breast, blue-tipped wings, and maroon tail. Other colors include yellow, cinnamon, and turquoise.
Lifespan: With plenty of love and attention these friendly birds can live as long as 30 years.