Popular Pet Birds
Parakeet: The parakeet, also known as a budgerigar or budgie, is a small parrot that originally comes from Australia. Highly social birds, budgies can be found in the wild in flocks of thousands! As such, they often do best when they are housed with one or more other budgies to form a small flock. Due to their small size and social nature, they make great pets for first-time bird owners. They are easy to train and to handle, plus, they can be some of the biggest talkers in the bird world, capable of learning words just like some of the larger parrots! Parakeets come in several different colors including green, yellow, white, and blue. They are also sexually dimorphic, meaning you can tell the males from the females, after about 6 months of age: in males, the cere (the fleshy part above the beak around the nostrils) is blue; in females, the cere is white or brown. If you’re looking for a pet that is easy to handle and great for families, a budgie might be perfect for you!
Cockatiel: The smallest member of the cockatoo family, these expressive, bold, and boisterous parrots are well known for the crest of feathers atop their heads and their chirping whistle. Found in Australia, these social birds use their crests to indicate their moods, much like a cat’s tail. They bond readily to their owners and can quite vocal with humans, other birds, and even their own reflections in mirrors. In the wild, cockatiels are ground foragers, so providing a cage with a large, flat floor covered with newspaper and scattered food helps them express their natural foraging behavior. They are intelligent birds that need daily mental stimulation. They enjoy playing with appropriately-sized toys designed for cockatiels. Females are prolific egg-layers that can lay eggs several times a week for years! With all this egg-laying, it is critical that cockatiels have adequate calcium in their diets to ensure solid egg shells. The average lifespan of these birds is 10-15 years, but with proper care and nutrition, some birds can live up to 30 years or more. If you want a long-lived, interactive pet bird that does well with children, a cockatiel might be a great choice!
Conure: Conures are comical, colorful, and charismatic birds found throughout Central and South America. Known for their playful and inquisitive nature, these small- to medium-sized parrots are attention seekers and engage in various entertaining behaviors such as dancing and hanging upside down. They are also affectionate and can be quite cuddly. However, they are intelligent birds and require mental stimulation through enrichment and toys. They can also be quite demanding, emitting notoriously shrill screeches when they want attention. If socialized and well cared for with proper diet and care, conures can make good family pets that can live up to 20-30 years, depending on the species. If you want a small- to medium-sized bird with a big personality and a big squawk to match, a conure might be right for you!
Amazon parrot: Found throughout Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, Amazon parrots are a group of medium-sized parrots known for their intelligence and gregarious nature. Highly intelligent, these birds are easily trainable, capable of learning numerous words and songs and performing stunts. Their intelligence also necessitates lots of enrichment – toys, socialization, and playtime – to prevent them from engaging in destructive behaviors. While they are big talkers, they are prone to seeking attention through screams and honks. Amazon parrots are typically long-lived birds, with an average lifespan of 35-50 years, so it is important to understand that as pets, these birds are companions for life! They are also known for their hearty appetites and love of high-fat seeds and nuts, so ensuring they receive proper nutrition is important to preventing diseases such as obesity and atherosclerosis. If you want a medium-sized, extremely intelligent bird that will live as long as some of your relatives and that will keep you entertained for many years, you should consider an Amazon parrot.
African gray parrot: African gray parrots are renowned for their intelligence and are often referred to as the Einsteins of the bird world. Social, complex, and talkative, these medium-sized parrots have been shown not only to mimic words but also to actually understand their meanings and use words in context! These highly recognizable birds are not recommended for the novice bird owner. Proper care of this bird is incredibly complex, as African gray parrots require daily quality time out of their cages, as well as mental stimulation with toys, puzzles, music, and television. They are prone to behavior problems, such as feather plucking, environment destruction, and excessive vocalization, if they are not appropriately stimulated. In addition, African gray parrots commonly become “one person birds” – bonding to a single individual in a family – even if they are socialized from the beginning with all of a family’s members. With proper care and diet, these beautiful birds can live 35-50 years, so as pets, they are lifelong commitments. If you’re looking for a bird that’s a great talker, loves to learn new things, but needs a great deal of hands-on socialization, an African gray may be your best bet.
Lovebirds: One of the smallest parrots, lovebirds are brightly colored, social birds that are found throughout Africa and Madagascar. Highly active birds, these parrots require a large amount of space to exercise, otherwise they are prone to stress-induced self-mutilation. As their name suggests, lovebirds will form deep, monogamous social bonds with their partners and can become aggressive and territorial during mating season. Despite this pair bond, lovebirds housed together tend to not be as social with human caretakers as other types of companion birds, as they are often focused on each other. While not necessarily chatty birds, they have a whistle-like song and are especially vocal at sunrise and sunset. With proper care and nutrition, lovebirds live on average 12-15 years. If you’re looking for a bird that is beautiful to look at, wonderful to listen to, and enjoys interacting with its cage-mates, a lovebird (or two!) may be right for you!
Finches: Do you ever watch the bird feeder and wish you could bring it inside? Are you a first-time bird owner who may not be ready for the big commitment of a parrot? Do you have room for a large flight cage or an aviary? If you answered yes to these questions, then finches may be the bird for you. These small perching birds – members of the passerine family of birds – may not be as hands-on as some other birds (in fact, they usually prefer not to be handled at all), but they still have individual personalities of their own. Finches do well in flocks with other finches and, as a result, tend to be prolific breeders. Finches tend to be like potato chips – you can’t just have one. Finch owners typically start out owning just a pair and then fall so in love with watching and hearing that pair, that they add additional pairs of different finch breeds on to the flock over time. On average, the lifespan of a finch is only 3-5 years, but with proper diet and husbandry, some can live 10 years or more. If you’re thinking of a pet bird more to watch and to hear than to handle and hold, a finch (or a few!) might be just what you’re looking for.
Pionus: Pionus parrots are a group of medium-sized parrots found throughout Mexico and Central and South America. This is a special type of bird, regarded by some as a hidden gem of the bird world. Although not typically as brightly colored as Amazon parrots or as playful as cockatoos, these birds are no less affectionate and have been described as charming, easy-going, and loyal. They are gentle, quiet birds that bond closely with their caretakers. Like other parrots, they require plenty of space and
exercise to stay healthy, along with daily handling and socialization to keep them mentally challenged. With proper care and attention, a pionus parrot can live in a household for 25-40 years and may be passed from one generation to the next. If you want a pet that has a quiet demeanor and need for affection but that’s not too clingy, you should consider a pionus parrot.
Cockatoos: Perhaps one of the most recognizable types of bird, cockatoos are medium to large parrots found in Australia and Indonesia. Expressive and vocal, this popular bird is known for its highly social and affectionate nature. They are easily recognized by the large crest of feathers on their heads that they raise and lower voluntarily as their mood changes. While adoring and loving, cockatoos can be quite demanding, screaming loudly for attention when they are ignored. Without constant interaction and stimulation, they can become destructive both to their environment and to themselves. With this reputation, cockatoos are sometimes referred to as “the Velcro bird.” In addition to needing attention, cockatoos also need a lot of space to exercise and play. They do not always do well confined in cages, so a large enclosure with a play area is a must. These birds can also out-shout any other type of bird and are known to scream at all times of the day. With the adoration they inspire, cockatoos are rock stars of the bird world, but they have the vocal cords to match! Therefore, they are only recommended for experienced bird owners who can devote a great deal of time every day to their pet. With proper nutrition, daily interaction, and mental stimulation, these birds can make devoted companions that can live over 30 years. If you are home a lot and have a great deal of time to devote to a pet that will want constant attention and cuddling, a cockatoo might be best for you.
Caiques: If cockatoos are the rock stars of the bird world, and African gray parrots are the Einsteins, then caiques (pronounced kai-EEKs) are the clowns! These medium-sized parrots are well known for their energetic playfulness, as well as their comedic antics. Found throughout South America, caiques need an enclosure to match their energy, so a large cage with plenty of toys (particularly ones that they can hang on upside down) is necessary for their physical and mental health. They are not as loud as some other parrots, like cockatoos, but they still squawk, cluck, and whistle. While affectionate and playful, caiques sometimes do not play well with other birds and are often best kept solo in households. Due to their jovial and entertaining nature, they make great pets for families – just make sure you give them the love and attention they crave. When given proper nutrition and plenty of opportunity to burn off their endless energy, caiques can live up to 30 years or more. If you are looking for a medium-sized bird that is fairly easy to handle, full of personality, and that will keep you laughing for years, think about a caique!
Eclectus parrots: Known for their stunning, brightly colored, fringe-like feathers, Eclectus parrots originated from the Solomon Islands. These birds are one of the few species of large parrots with clear sexual dimorphism (physical differences between the sexes); males have bright green feathers and yellow beaks, while females have striking red and purple feathers and black beaks. Male Eclectus parrots have the reputation of being quiet and gentle, while females are known to be more stubborn and bossy, particularly when they are reproductively active. Interactive, vocal, and playful, these medium- to large-sized parrots need large cages in which to climb and time every day out of their cages to exercise. Without daily attention and stimulation, Eclectus parrots commonly get bored and pick their feathers. These birds have great appetites and commonly become overweight when given unlimited access to food. With longer digestive tracts than other parrots, Eclectus parrots typically enjoy fruits and vegetables along with a base diet of nutritionally-complete pelleted food to help meet their high dietary requirement for vitamin A. When fed properly and given plenty of attention to prevent boredom, Eclectus parrots can live 30 years on average. If you’re interested in a stunning-looking, playful, active bird that will be a great pet if you can give a great deal of daily attention to prevent it from becoming bored, consider an Eclectus.
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About Veterinary Centers for Birds and Exotics
If you have been looking for specialized care for your bird or exotic pet, look no further! We have you covered. At our unique animal hospital, we provide care to birds and exotics ONLY—no cats and dogs! We are the only bird and exotic veterinary hospital with a full-time, board certified bird specialist, Dr. Laurie Hess. Dr. Hess, who, with her two associates, Dr. Amanda Marino and Dr. Amanda Dewey, are the only full-time veterinarians in Westchester County who are residency-trained in bird and exotic medicine and surgery. Call to schedule an appointment for your pet!