Thinking about getting a bird as a pet? Friendly and gentle are probably your top 2 must-haves in your new bird, but you need to consider other important characteristics such as personality and size before deciding on the best bird for you and your family. Here, our Sonora vets offer you a few suggestions.
What are the best types of birds for first-time owners?
A bird can be a delightful addition to your household if you're looking for a small, characterful pet.
Birds can make wonderful companions, brighten your day with their colorful plumage and may even carry a tune or do a few tricks. But when you are trying to decide on the best bird for your household, it's important to keep in mind that it's worth doing your research before purchasing an avian pet.
It's also important to remember that all different types of birds not only need love and a lot of attention, but that owners will need to feed their pet birds a diet tailored to their species' needs, and that these lovely pets may sometimes require veterinary care and attention.
Before choosing the best bird for your household be sure to research the bird's personality traits, size, and weight, as well as their lifespan.
Today our vets at Mono Way Veterinary Hospital share the key characteristics of some of the most popular species of pet birds for first time owners:
Budgie / Budgerigars
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.
Budgies (also referred to as parakeets or budgerigars) are known for being exceptionally warm, friendly, and gentle when properly cared for and trained.
These delightful birds are also one of the smallest bird species generally kept as pets, relatively easy to care for, and if you get a young one they can also be easy to train.
These beautiful feathered friends make affordable pets that are both playful and active. Their tricks may include learning to talk and providing hours of amusement.
Lifespan: When cared for properly a pet budgie can live for 7 -15 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.
Easy to read, 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.
Female cockatiels are as gentle as they come, and males are particularly good at mimicking sounds around them including phones, alarms, and even outdoor birds. But you should be aware that cockatiels need a huge cage with several toys and perches to keep them 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 another cockatiel companion to be their friend or that owners dedicate significant amounts of time to interacting with their feathered pet.
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.
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 incredibly gentle and sweet when it comes to hand feeding and domesticating them. These birds are easygoing. While they’ll enjoy your time together, they typically aren’t overly demanding of their owners’ time or attention.
That said, unlike parrots, doves cannot climb up and down cage bars, instead, they need to fly from perch to perch which makes a large 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. 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.
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: On average, canaries live between 9-10 years if well cared for, although in rare cases these little birds can live for 15 years or even longer!
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.
On the quiet side, and a little mischievous, green-cheeked conures are playful and smart birds who typically don’t talk but are charming species nonetheless. They’ll entertain and engage, and can be comical and outgoing under the right circumstances.
Lifespan: With plenty of love and attention these friendly birds can live as long as 30 years.