What's the Right Pet Bird for Me?

Interested in adding a bird to your family? Great! There are a variety of birds that make wonderful companions. But which pet bird is right for you?

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Do your research and make sure you understand what’s involved in caring for a bird. Too many birds are surrendered to shelters and rescues because their owners didn’t know how much work they would require, advises Dr. Laurie Hess with Vetstreet.com

Here are some things to consider when choosing a bird:

Friendliness
For those who want a pretty “look but don’t touch” bird, Canaries or Zebra Finches are good choices, according to the ASPCA. Small parrots like Budgies (also called, albeit incorrectly, Parakeets), Cockatiels, Lovebirds and Parrotlets are typically more affectionate pets who revel in their human’s attention.

According to avian expert Nikki Moustaki the author of Parrots for Dummies, these amiable birds, along with Pionus and Rosellas, also typically make good pets for kids.

Of course, children should always be supervised when holding or playing with a pet bird.

Speaking Ability
Some people want a pet bird that can talk and many species have this potential, with the right training. While quite a few birds can learn a few words, according to Birdchannel.com’s article “Top 3 Best Talking Parrots,” the best talking birds are African Grey Parrots, Quakers and Budgies/Parakeets.

Lifespan
Birds are not a short-term commitment. According to the ASPCA, finches tend to live from 7-10 years and Cockatiels can live up to 15 years. Larger birds, like Amazon Parrots, can live to 50 years or more, with proper care, says Moustaki.

Noise
Birds are chatty by nature because, as flock animals, birds use their voices to communicate their needs, says author Gina Spadafori in Birds for Dummies. As a result, a pet bird inevitably means extra noise.

Finches, for example, constantly chatter throughout the day, and canaries, of course, are bred to sing. Budgies may chatter and squawk (and maybe talk) all day and some larger Parrots can squawk quite loudly in the morning and the evenings as they “check in” with their flock members (that’s you!), advises Dr. Laurie Hess with Vetstreet.com.

Bird Size
Larger birds like Macaws, which can be up to 40 inches, can be expensive to obtain and maintain, warns Moustaki. The size and cost of appropriate cages, the amount (and expense) of food they eat can add up. Plus, they may make a larger mess. Smaller birds tend to be less expensive to keep and may not be (quite!) as messy.

Mess
Make no mistake, says Dr. Hess, between frequent droppings, throwing seeds and shedding feathers, all birds are messy. Lories and Lorikeets are considered some of the messiest birds, according to Moustaki, because of the soft, liquid nectar they eat. As a result, they have soft, runny waste, which has a tendency to splatter. Other particularly messy birds include Lovebirds, Amazon Parrots and Eclectus.

Once you’ve decided which bird suits your lifestyle, contact local shelters and rescues to see if they have birds available for adoption. Or, find a reputable breeder. There are many bird enthusiast groups that can be great resources for finding responsible breeders in your area.

There’s no doubt that whatever bird you choose will be a lively pet that will bring you years of joy and companionship.

By Caroline Golon