If you're considering adopting a pet bird to be a close companion, there are many popular species to choose from, but they all have unique socialization requirements regarding other flock mates and training needs. As with most birds, companionship is a two-way street; species that provide good company for humans often require the same social bonding in return. Here is a look at eight of the bird species known to be the most popular companions for their "human flocks" along with details about their social requirements.
Utilize local bird rescues during the species selection process; these adoption and education organizations are highly skilled at matching a bird to an individual or a family. When blindly purchasing a bird without knowing anything about the traits and needs of a particular species, detrimental mismatches are common.
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The common parakeet, or budgerigar, makes a wonderful pet for children or for those who are new to keeping birds; they are smart and playful yet they require less space and maintenance than larger bird species. While these birds are smaller than their bigger peers, they require the same attention and care. Budgies are quite intelligent in spite of their small size, and while most are content to whistle and sing, many have been known to learn words and phrases. These hardy little birds come in an array of beautiful colors, and their average life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.
Length: 7 inches
Weight: 1 ounce
Physical Characteristics: Light green body with black wing markings and yellow head; captive-bred colors of blue, gray, green, white, violet, yellow/blue
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These medium-sized birds are simply a delight to keep. Members of the parrot family, these Australian natives are known for their surprisingly advanced whistling and singing abilities. While cockatiels are capable of learning to talk, many owners find that their birds prefer to whistle and to mimic quirky sounds such as the ringing of a telephone. These birds are available in increasingly diverse color combinations and have an average life expectancy of between 15 and 20 years.
Length: 11 to 12 inches
Weight: 2.5 to 3.5 ounce
Physical Characteristics: Light gray body with long, dark gray tail, yellow and gray crest, yellow face; orange ear patch and white on the wing; dark gray bill
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Finches and canaries (a species of finch) are ever-popular companion birds. With most varieties measuring just five inches or less, finches and canaries require less space than almost any other pet bird species. Unlike the parrots, which are all hard-beaked hookbill birds, finches and canaries are known as softbills or waxbill birds; they have somewhat pliable, waxy beaks. These little birds thrive in small flocks and generally pay little attention to humans which makes them perfect pets for those who love to watch birds but want a pet that requires less interaction. A finch or canary can live up to 10 years if it is well cared for.
Length: 5 to 6 inches
Weight: 1/2 ounce
Physical Characteristics: Bright yellow, whitish, or reddish body
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Lovebirds are one of the smallest parrot species. These colorful little birds should not be overlooked in favor of larger, more demanding parrots as lovebirds possess all the intelligence and personality of the largest of macaws. These birds are fairly quiet companions, making them ideal for those who live in apartments or condominiums. The lovebird has a life expectancy of up to 20 years.
Length: 5 to 6 inches
Weight: 2 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Mostly green, orange upper body and head, blue lower back and rump, red beak, white eyeringsContinue to 5 of 8 below.
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The monk parakeet or quaker is actually a small parrot. It is well known for its ability to build a large vocabulary or words and phrases. The more you verbally explain what you are doing around the cage, the more this bird will pick up on the words for things and how to mimics those words. Monk parakeets have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years.
Length: 11 inches
Weight: 4 to 5 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Bright green, white or blue body; gray breast, cheeks, and throat resembles colonial-era Quaker clothing; orange beaks
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Doves are known for their sweet and gentle dispositions. Unlike the hookbill parrots, softbills doves rarely try to bite or do damage with their beaks. Still, it always helps to use calm and positive socialization and bonding techniques with these birds. Doves can be a good choice as a pet for older children who understand how to be calm and gentle with companion animals. Doves need companionship too, and if kept alone indoors, they should be allowed plenty of free flight time out of the cage to interact with human caretakers. Mirrors and swings inside a dove's enclosure are a good idea.
Length: 11 to 13 inches
Weight: 5 to 8 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Pure white, gray, white with gray, tangerine, pied, and orange; black eyes, black bill, dark purple feet
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From the tropical forests of Ecuador and Peru, parrotlets are genetically most closely related to the much larger Amazon parrot. Even though these birds are tiny, they have the same temperament and intelligence as their larger cousins. Relatively new to captivity, a parrotlet's wild streak is still intact. Without early proper handling, parrotlets can become competitive. Because they can be aggressive with other birds, territorial fights might break out during feeding time; hence, they often do better when kept by themselves. When miniature parrots act fearlessly, that can also get them into trouble in a home with dogs and cats. Feisty parrotlets may not back down from a confrontation with your furry pets. These diminutive parrotlets have a lifespan of up to 30 years.
Length: 4 to 5 inches
Weight: 1 ounce
Physical Characteristics: Mostly green; splashes of bright blue on their backs and behind the eyes (males); zygodactyl feet: two toes forward-pointing, two toes rear-pointing
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African Grays have been said to be the most intelligent of birds with some boasting very large vocabularies. Because these birds are so smart, they tend to be demanding pets that will get bored and depressed very quickly if not stimulated for at least five hours per day. But if you are looking for a highly intelligent and affectionate forever friend, the African Gray may be a fit. Grays are amazing birds that are easily trained once you learn the training techniques of positive reinforcement and operant conditioning.
Length: 13 inches
Weight: 15 to 18 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Varying shades of gray on the body; red tail feathers