Are you thinking about getting a feathered friend as a pet? Friendly and gentle are undoubtedly your top two requirements in a new bird, but be sure to consider other important factors such as personality and size before deciding on the best bird to own as a pet. Here are some ideas from our Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital vets.
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 be great companions, brightening your day with their colorful plumage and even carrying a tune or performing a few tricks. However, when deciding on the best bird for your household, keep in mind that it's important to do your research before purchasing a pet bird.
It's also important to remember that all types of birds require not only love and a lot of attention, but that owners must feed their avian pets a diet tailored to the needs of their bird species, and that these lovely pets may occasionally require veterinary care and attention.
Before choosing the best bird for your household be sure to research the specific personality traits, size, and weight, as well as their lifespan.
Today our vets at Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital share some of the characteristics of a few 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 well known to be exceptionally warm, friendly, and gentle when properly cared for and trained.
These delightful birds are also among the smallest of 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.
The crest on top of a cockatiel's head is easy to read and indicates the bird's emotional state; a flattened head crest indicates 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 especially good at mimicking sounds in their environment, such as phones, alarms, and even outdoor birds. However, you should be aware that cockatiels require a large cage with plenty of toys and perches to keep them entertained.
These intelligent little parrots crave social interaction and require an owner who can devote the time and attention they require to thrive and avoid loneliness or depression. It is advised that they have a companion 'tiel friend or that owners devote significant time to interacting with their feathered friend.
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).
When it comes to hand feeding and domesticating doves, they can be incredibly gentle and sweet. These birds are laid-back. Though they will enjoy your company, they are not overly demanding of their owners' time or attention.
That said, unlike parrots, doves cannot climb up and down cage bars but instead need to fly from perch to perch which makes a huge 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: TThese beautiful birds can be yellow, green, bright orange, or brown. Canaries are ideal for beginners who aren't sure if they want a bird that requires a lot of attention because of their vibrant color and ability to carry a tune. While they would prefer not to be handled, canaries are content to play the amusing beauty. But keep in mind that these little birds are delicate and easily startled.
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: The canaries typically live for 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.
Green-cheeked conures are playful and intelligent birds that don't usually talk but are a charming species nonetheless. They will entertain and engage, and under the right circumstances, they can be comical and outgoing.
Lifespan: With plenty of love and attention these friendly birds can live as long as 30 years.