Choosing a Feathered Friend

There are two types of birds normally kept as companions by bird fanciers. Finches, canaries, and some others fall into what for lack of a better name, we will call “cage birds”. These are usually kept in cages and enjoyed for their chirping and/or singing. They are very rarely trained to sit on fingers or shoulders etc. The other group is made up mostly of members of the order Psittaciformes, which includes; parrots, parakeets, and cockatoos, lories, lorikeets, macaws, and lovebirds. It is members of this group that can really earn the title, “pet” bird. And it is this group that we will explore in detail.

For practical purposes, let’s divide it into three sub groups; small, medium, and large.

In the small bird group there are parrotlets, parakeets, lories, lorikeets, cockatiels, lovebirds, some conures, and budgerigars (called ‘parakeet’ by most people in the U.S.A.). This little bird makes an excellent pet, can be housed in a small cage, and is a superb talker. Cockatiels, the second most popular pet bird, is an extremely affectionate bird and can be trained to talk, and is the maestro when it comes to whistling whole tunes. It requires a bit larger cage than the budgie. There are a number of parrotlets, and true parakeets. They vary widely in size, trainability, with some making very affectionate pets, and others more difficult. Conures, as a group tend to be very noisy, but can make loving pets and some will talk. Lovebirds are generally kept in pairs as cages birds, they never seem to be happy if kept alone. Lories and lorikeets are specialized feeders, and should be kept only by the experienced hobbyist.

The medium sized group includes; some conures, most parrots, and cockatoos. The parrots are the most famous as talkers, but some cockatoos are also masters at the spoken word.  Both of these groups can live well beyond 40 years and ages over 100 have been reported. These birds require a long-term commitment and large heavy-duty cages. They can form very strong attachments to their owners and may never accept a second owner after they have bonded to one person. The larger members of this group have very powerful beaks and can damage household furnishing if left unattended outside of their cage.

The large birds consist of the macaws. These are really huge birds, up to 40 inches in length and weigh up to 3 pounds. They demand huge cages that are actually made of cast iron or high quality steel. Both the birds and their housing are expensive. On the positive side, they are loving pets, long lived, usually gentle, and can be good talkers and learn numerous tricks.

Pet birds are long-lived pets, even budgies have been know to live 20 years and 12 are to be expected. Therefore you can see that care should go into choosing a pet bird.