7 Top Pet Bird Species for Older People

Many benefits can come from the company of companion animals, but you may be surprised at just how much the company of little birds can increase the quality of life of an older person. If you're looking for chatty companions, pet birds may be for you. Here is a list of the seven best pet bird species for senior owners.


So many caretakers have noted success in using small pet bird species that retirement communities and nursing homes have been studying the benefits of animal companionship with programs such as The Eden Project.

  • 01 of 07


    Canary bird
    DircinhaSW / Getty Images

    Canaries are sweet, colorful little birds whose soft songs are known the world over for producing feelings of calm and serenity. Not only are they small and easy to care for, but they are also tons of fun to watch and don't require excessive amounts of attention from owners. They are popular pets in settings where owners and even patients can watch and hear them without having to get too physically involved in their care. Canaries can live for up to 10 years in captivity, making them an excellent choice as a companion for older people who are residents in long-term care situations.

    Species Overview

    Length: 5 to 6 inches

    Weight: 1/2 ounce

    Physical Characteristics: Bright yellow, whitish, or reddish body

  • 02 of 07

    Zebra Finches

    Zebra Finch
    Raj Kamal / Getty Images

    Zebra Finches are very social and need to be kept in small flocks of three to four birds in order to thrive, but this only adds to the joy of watching them interact with each other. Their sweet, quiet vocalizations are very pleasant to listen to, and people often enjoy watching them flit about. Some people allow out-of-cage flight time for finches, but it is not at all required so they are a great choice for a person who would benefit from just sitting near them throughout the day. They require minimal human attention otherwise, so they are a great species to keep from a nursing/caretaker standpoint. These birds would be best in a home that has space to allow for a rather large flight cage.

    Species Overview

    Length: 5 to 6 inches

    Weight: 1/2 ounce

    Physical Characteristics: Bright yellow, whitish, or reddish body

  • 03 of 07

    Budgies (Parakeets)

    Close-Up Of Bird Perching On Wood In Cage
    Fujii Yuka / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Perhaps the most popular small bird species, the budgie or parakeet is a small, colorful parrot species with an enormous amount of personality for their size. Because budgies are parrots, they require more human interaction than the finches, so they would do best in a situation where someone can play and interact with them directly for at least an hour per day. These beautiful birds are very vocal but lack the ability to scream like many other parrot species, which has made them a popular choice, but they can learn to be proficient talkers. Budgies are recommended for owners who are fairly mobile and able to spend time socializing and playing with their bird out-of-cage.

    Species Overview

    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

  • 04 of 07


    These medium-sized birds are an interactive delight. Members of the parrot family, these Australian natives are known for their advanced whistling and singing abilities. While cockatiels are capable of learning to talk, these birds often prefer to whistle and to mimic household sounds such as the ringing of a telephone. These birds are available in increasingly diverse color combinations.

    Species Overview

    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

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07


    Hailing from Mexico, this is the smallest of all pet parrots. With the personality of the big macaws, parrotlets can be sassy little companions for seniors. Active, but not overly squawky, these birds do well in apartments or homes with noise-sensitive neighbors. These birds enjoy hiding in shirt pockets or scarves or riding around on shoulders, and they even know their own names. When not handled often enough, they can be nippy and aggressive, but when appropriately socialized and kept alone, they do very well bonding with humans of any age. Parrotlets can live up to 30 years and may outlive an elderly owner so consider rescuing an older bird who needs a home.

    Species Overview

    Length: 4 to 5 inches

    Weight: 1 ounce

    Physical Characteristics: Green body or one of many color mutations, such as lutino, blue, and albino; tiny tails, zygodactyl feet: two forward-pointing toes and two rear-pointing toes

  • 06 of 07


    Doves (or pigeons) are known for their sweet and gentle dispositions. Unlike the hard-beaked hookbill parrots, softbill doves rarely try to bite or do damage with their softer beaks. Still, it always helps to use calm, positive socialization and bonding techniques with these birds. Doves can be a good match for gentle owners, but doves need bird companionship too, so they do best in pairs. Mirrors and swings inside a dove's enclosure increase fun activity for the birds, and they should be allowed free-flight time out of the cage to interact with human caretakers as well.

    Species Overview

    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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    Even in pairs or small groups, lovebirds chatter in a quiet way, making them a match for those who live in apartments or condominiums. Even though they are fairly quiet companions, they are known to be assertive and can be nippy. These colorful little birds possess all the intelligence and personality of the largest of macaws so they may be opinionated.

    Species Overview

    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 eyerings

For seniors owners, care may have to be shared sometimes with friends and neighbors while the owner is away. Avoid choosing species that stick to strict pecking orders in the flock; these birds may hassle a temporary caregiver. Choose a bird likely to be happy to chat with anyone, not just the person they have bonded with most closely.