Birds, though often kept in a cage, are not like fish. Where fish are decorative and relatively easy to care for, birds, like most other pets, require a lot of time to correctly care for. You want to make sure to do plenty of research before making the commitment to own a bird so you know just what you will be getting into. Ultimately it’s not a responsibility to approach with levity and should not be the result of an impulse buy.
There are several things you want to consider as you begin your research when choosing the right bird for you…
As a general rule of thumb: the bigger the bird, the more responsibility the bird will require. It is not hard-and-fast, but it’s close to it. A parakeet, which can be quite rewarding to raise and a friendly companion, will require much less time and money than, say, a hyacinth macaw—though a bigger bird, like macaws, might also give experienced bird-lovers more satisfaction. This is why size is so important and why beginners might want to think about going with a small-or medium-sized bird.
This size of the bird will also affect the size and type of cage and the training and daily time needed…and diet and, well, most all aspects. So, needless to say but we’re saying it anyway, size is a biggie (pun totally intended) when considering what bird is right for you.
Much like snowflakes, not all birds are alike. The species (which affects the size, mind you) will directly affect temperament and behavior, and therefore your training and general interaction. And, unfortunately, there are thousands of bird species, so we can’t go into each and every one–but you can check out our recommendations below for different “types” of bird species.
If you’ve been to the beach recently, you might perceive that birds will eat anything. But not all birds will eat anything that resembles food, or not even the “staples” like nuts or berries. Some birds, depending on species, have very special and in some cases picky diets. Lories, for example, are beautiful birds but are very persnickety eaters, requiring only nectar, pollen, and fruit. It’s also important to remember this: your bird’s diet also affects its droppings, which in turn affects your cage cleaning needs (how often, how vigorously, etc). You want a bird that requires a diet you are prepared to be able to provide—along with accepting the responsibilities that go along with it.
The bird’s life span is quite possibly the biggest reason against buying one on an impulse. Many birds, especially large parrots, can live a very long time (some Macaws can creep up on 100 years old!). This long life expectancy does not only translate into a pure time commitment from you but also cost. Over the long haul, you will be paying a lot of money to keep your bird (even smaller birds), so not just the initial cost needs to be considered.
Birds, even the larger docile breeds, still need plenty of exercise time. And we mean in and out of the cage! This active interaction needs to be done daily, so it’s important to understand that birds are not just pretty pets to stick in a cage on a perch to look at and play with occasionally. There are some more independent species (finch, canary, etc) if you cannot take the time to interact with your bird for a couple hours a day. But even the independent birds should get some time with you. If you can’t give the bird the time it needs, now is not that time to buy a bird!
Finally, if you live in a condo or apartment, be sure that the bird is allowed. And also, check your state and national laws before buying any exotic pet, including birds!
Some suggested breeds by category type:
GOOD TALKERS – The African Grey (best!), most cockatoos (bare-eyed cockatoo), many macaws, and most amazons
QUIET BIRDS – Black Headed or yellow-thighed Caique, orange bellied Senegal (also a good talker), blue-headed, bronze-winged, maximillian, or white-crowned pionus, ruppell’s parrot, African grey, green-cheeked conure
GOOD WITH KIDS – Noble Macaw, orange bellied Senegal, Pionus, Senegal parrot, sun conure, hahn’s macaw, meyer’s parrot
EASY DEIT – (simple psittacine diet or homemade “mash” diet) – caiques, noble macaw, pionus, ruppell’s parrot, eclectus, sun conure
GOOD FIRST TIME BIRDS – finches, canaries, parakeets (require less handling, smaller cages, simpler care), cockatiels, lovebirds and parrotlets require more room and handling, but are beautiful and affectionate