Are you considering getting a bird as a pet? Chances are that friendly and gentle are going to be at the top of your list of priorities. Here are a few suggestions for the best pet birds for new owners based on their personalities and size from our Apple Valley veterinary team.
What are the best types of birds for first-time owners?
A pet bird can be a wonderful addition to your home if you're looking for an intelligent and small pet with lots of character.
Birds can be excellent companions, brightening your day with colorful plumage and may even be able to carry a tune or perform tricks. But, when trying to decide on the best bird for your lifestyle and household, it is important to do your research before purchasing your new pet.
It's also very important to remember that different types of birds may vary in characteristics, but all require plenty of love and attention. You will also need to keep on top of their diet, ensure you're feeding them food tailored to their needs and make sure you are bringing them in for veterinary care to ensure their lifelong health.
Before choosing the best bird for your household be sure to research the species personality traits, size and weight, as well as their lifespan.
Here, our Apple Valley vets share some of the characteristics of some of the most popular species of birds for first-time bird-owners.
Weight: 5 to 8 ounces
Length: 11 to 13 inches
Physical Characteristics: Brown and dull gray feathers, black eyes, beak and collar surrounding neck. Alternative colors include orange, white and pied (ring-necked doves).
Doves can be gentle and sweet when it comes to both feeding and domesticating them. These birds are very easygoing. While they enjoy time with their owners, doves won't be very demanding of your time or attention.
That said, unlike parrots, doves cannot climb up and down cage bars but instead need to fly from perch to perch which makes a huge cage essential.
Lifespan: When well cared for a pet dove can live from 8 -15 years depending on the species.
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. Canaries prefer not to be handled but are more than happy to play the part of entertaining beauty to be admired. Be aware, however, these birds are easily frightened and are quite fragile
Though somewhat shy and timid, canaries will need space to fly in order to stay happy and healthy, so you’ll need a large flight cage. Note: Male canaries sing, while females do not.
When you're shopping for a pet bird, always buy from a reputable breeder or bird store. Healthy and well-socialized birds will make the best pets.
Lifespan: 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!
Budgie / Parakeet
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 head, wings and back.
Budgies (also referred to as parakeets or budgerigars) are well known to be exceptionally warm, friendly and gentle when properly cared for and trained.
These birds can be delightful pets and are among the smallest birds kept by people. They are relatively easy to care for and quite easy to train if you start while they are young.
These beautiful feathered friends make affordable pets that are both playful and active. They can learn tricks including learning how to talk and can provide families with hours of entertainment.
Lifespan: When cared for properly a pet budgie can live for 7 -15 years
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.
These special birds are quite, but can be quite mischevious. Green-cheeked conures are smart and playful. They love to engage with their owners and entertain them. They can even be very comical under the right circumstances, despite very rarely talking.
Lifespan: With plenty of love and attention these friendly birds can live as long as 30 years.
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.
The crest on the top of the cockatiel's head indicates their emotional state in an easy-to-read way. If their head crest is flattened, they are fearful or angry. If it is up completed straight, they are excited or startled.
Female cockatiels have a well-deserved reputation for being very gentle and the males of this species are experts at mimicking sounds around them, from phones, alarms and other birds outdoors. You should be aware, however, that cockatiels require very large cages with a wide variety of perches and toys to help keep the stimulated.
These smart little parrots crave social interaction, and require an owner who can provide them with the time and attention they need in order to thrive and prevent loneliness, or depression. It’s recommended they either have a companion ‘tiel friend or that owners dedicate significant amounts of time to interacting with their feathered friend.
Plus: Be sure to watch out for their whistle: if they do one for you, it’s a compliment as they whistle at things they like.
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.