Best Birds for First-Time Owners
A bird can be a wonderful addition to a household that needs a pet but whose members aren't sure they want a conventional cat or dog.
The birds on this list are wonderful companions, brightly colored and may even carry a tune or do some tricks. Just like us, they vary just as much in personality as in physical characteristics, such and size and weight.
If you're curious about what some of the more popular species' temperaments are like, our vets at Providence Animal Hospital have advice on each, and what to consider for the best experience. Here are our choices for best breeds of friendly pet bird species for first-timers:
Weight: 1 ounce
Length: 6 to 8 inches
Physical Characteristics: Light green with black bars on head, wings and back. Variety of colors available include neon green, yellow, blue, violet and more.
Budgies (also referred to as parakeets) have a reputation as being exceptionally warm, friendly and gentle when properly cared for and trained.
They’re also among the smallest of bird species typically kept for pets, and relatively easy to care for and train, especially if you get a young one.
You’ll be delighted to know they are playful and active. Their tricks may include learning to talk and providing hours of amusement. And you won’t break the bank with a budgie - they are so popular partly due to their affordability.
Weight: 3 ounces
Length: 12 to 13 inches (adults)
Physical Characteristics: Orange spots around the ears. Mostly gray feathers with yellow and white accents. Males are yellow-headed while females are almost completely gray.
Unique crest on top of head indicates the bird’s emotional state; flattened head crest means the bird is fearful or angry; a completely vertical crest indicates your cockatiel is startled or excited.
Another popular avian pet, female cockatiels are as gentle as they come. But you should be aware that they’ll need a huge cage with several toys and perches to keep them stimulated. If properly loved and cared for, a ‘tiel can live for as long as 30 years.
These smart parrots crave social interaction, so will need time and attention to thrive and prevent loneliness, which can cause depression. It’s recommended they either have a companion ‘tiel friend or that owners dedicate significant amounts of time to spending with them.
Plus: Watch out for their whistle: if they do one for you, it’s a compliment as they whistle at things they like.
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 - though they’ll enjoy your time together but typically aren’t overly demanding of their owners’ time or attention.
Weight: Less than 1 ounce
Length: 4 to 8 inches
Physical Characteristics: Can be yellow or green, bright orange or brown. Known for their vibrant color and ability to carry a tune, canaries are perfect if you’re a beginner who isn’t sure if they want a bird who requires a lot of attention - while they’d rather not be handled, canaries are happy to play the entertaining beauty. But beware they are fragile and easily frightened.
Though somewhat shy and timid, canaries need to be able to fly to keep their health and happiness up, so you’ll need a large flight cage. Note: Male canaries sing, while females do not.
When shopping for a pet, always buy from a reputable breeder or bird store. Healthy and well-socialized birds will make the best pets.
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 but just 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.