The Top 10 Best Pet Birds

By: Linda RodgersPublished: Updated:

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The Top 10 Best Pet Birds

Have you wondered if keeping a bird as a pet is right for you? If so, which one? And how would you choose? With about 5.7 million American households home to pet birds (often more than one) according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners survey done by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), clearly lots of people are loving the experience of parenting birds. 

In fact, many birds can be wonderful pets—if you have the right expectations, says Sheila S. Blanchette, an IAABC-certified parrot behavior consultant and trainer and owner of the avian consulting business Heart of Feathers Education and Training in Atkinson, New Hampshire.

Instead, some bird parents may find that the pet bird they’ve chosen is too noisy or time-consuming for their lifestyle. Then they get frustrated and give the birds away. That’s why it’s so important you get the best pet bird for you.

Here is a list of the best birds as pets, according to the APPA’s survey. See which pet birds sound right for you, and then follow these expert tips to set yourself up for success.

Best pet birds: parakeet

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1Parakeets

It’s easy to see why more than 25 percent of bird parents keep some type of parakeet as pets, the most popular of which is the budgerigar, or budgie. And no wonder—they’re silly, sweet birds with big personalities that vary from bird to bird. Pet parents also like their small stature, low noise level and easygoing nature. Even more easygoing and friendly is the lineolated parakeet (also known as a linnie, barred parakeet or Catherine parakeet). If you love the idea of a bird who’s playful and can learn new tricks, consider parakeets as pets.

Keeping them happy:

Housing: Must be wide and tall enough for easy movement and exercise. The Prevue Pet Products Wrought Iron Flight Cage measures 52 inches tall to give small and medium birds plenty of space. 

Toys: Should be no bigger than your parakeet: Ones with paper or hay to shred or bells to ring are good at keeping your bird entertained. The Super Bird Creations crinkle toy has both.

Food: Provide fresh water daily, and several small bowls of food in the cage so they can fly from one to another. Feed them pellets such as Lafeber's Pellet-Berries parakeet food mixed with a few seeds as well as fresh veggies, like carrot strips or broccoli florets. Avoid too many empty calories (like seeds and grains).

All About Parakeets, Budgies and Linnies

  • Average size and weight: 6 to 8 inches, 1 ounce
  • Average lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Sociability: Properly tamed and cared for, can be very friendly and affectionate
  • Talking ability: Very chatty! If trained, can pick up human voices, learning words and phrases
  • Medical concerns: Includes bacterial infections, viruses or parasites, and fatty liver disease

Learn more about keeping a pair of budgies/parakeets.

BEST FOR: 

First-time pet bird parents with enough time in their schedules to teach these fun birds a few tricks and how to talk. Chatty but not screechy, they're fine for most apartment- and townhouse-dwellers.


Best pet birds: cockatiel

2Cockatiels

Affectionate, spirited and curious, cockatiels rank just behind parakeets when it comes to the best birds as pets. These pint-size parrots are members of the cockatoo family (also known as miniature cockatoos, weiros and quarrions) and their sunny, easygoing personalities score points with their parents. If handled young and properly trained and socialized, you can expect everything from whistles to kisses. (Yes, they can be quite vocal, but how fun!)

Keeping them happy:

Housing: Cockatiels require a roomy cage with perches made from different materials. Pair a rope perch like the JW Pet Medium Comfy Bird Perch with Prevue Pet Products' Wood Corner Shelf. Cockatiels like to bathe in their water bowls—get a big enough bowl such as JW Pet InSight Clean Cup and change the water twice a day.

Toys: Cockatiels need plenty to do, so provide toys that can keep these smart birds entertained while they’re alone. These could include foraging and shredding toys, such as this Bonka Bird Toys foraging toy—and be sure to change up their toys every week.

Food: Provide fresh water daily, and several small bowls of food in the cage so they can fly from one to another. Cockatiels can pack on the pounds, so give them more pellets and vegetables than seeds and treats and ensure plenty of room in their cage to flap, fly and move.

All About Cockatiels

  • Average size and weight: 12 inches, 3 ounces
  • Average lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Sociability: Cockatiels do fine as an only pet but need to interact with you
  • Talking ability: Very talkative! Can be trained to mimic sounds and sing, whistle and make all sorts of noises
  • Medical concerns: Includes bacterial infections, viruses or parasites, obesity and fatty liver disease

Discover 5 ways to play with your pet cockatiel.

BEST FOR: 

Bird-savvy pet parents who don’t mind a vocal companion (cockatiels sing and mimic sounds) and can spend an hour or so every day talking to their bird and giving them attention and things to do.


Best pet birds: canary

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3Canaries

Canaries are cheerful, good-natured songsters who require low-key TLC. While they typically don’t like to be handled, keeping your canary’s cage in a room where you hang out will make them happy. This is one reason why they are one of the best birds to have as pets. Canaries are very curious and will investigate anything new in their environment, so provide plenty of stimulation with toys and perches.

Learn tips for letting your canary fly outside their cage.

Keeping them happy:

Housing: Roomy cage that’s at least 2 to 3 feet tall, like the Vision II Model M01 bird cage, with perches set at different heights. If you take your canary out to fly around in the room, cover windows and mirrors so they don’t crash.

Toys: While not as playful as budgies or cockatiels, canaries still love toys, especially ones that help with beak grooming. Try top-rated JW Pet InSight Cuttlebone Holder bird toy or rings they can climb, such as JW Pet Activitoy Birdie Olympia Rings.

Food: Pellets, along with vegetables like kale, spinach and sweet potatoes to supplement. Avoid too many sugary fruits (like bananas or grapes). Provide fresh water daily.

All About Canaries

  • Average size and weight: 3 to 4 inches, 1 ounce
  • Average lifespan: 10 to 15 years, often longer
  • Sociability: They like to hang out in the same room as you, but are not the most snuggly of birds.
  • Talking ability: They don’t “speak,” but expect plenty of song from males. Females tend to mostly chirp.
  • Medical concerns: Respiratory illness and obesity. Canaries have very sensitive respiratory systems, which can be easily compromised.

Take a closer look at canaries.

BEST FOR: 

Crazy-busy first-time pet bird parents who aren’t looking for a talking bird but are happy to listen to their canary sing as they do other things. Smaller in size and relatively quiet; suitable for apartment-dwellers.


Best pet birds: conures

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4Conures

There are many types of conures and they come in a variety of sizes and colors, from the smaller green-cheeked conure to the larger sun and blue-crowned conures. No matter their color or their size, they all have one thing in common: They’re crazy smart, and they need your attention to really thrive. Intelligent, playful and slightly mischievous, they thrive on interaction with you both in and out of their cages. That said, they can get aggressive and bite or be destructive. For that reason, they don’t always make the best pet birds for beginners.

Discover 5 ways to play with your pet conure.

Keeping them happy:

Housing: Conures love roomy cages! Must be large enough that their tail does not touch the bottom, and the bird has enough room for unrestricted movements. Provide several perches.

Toys: Enrichment items and foraging toys like Super Bird Creations Foraging Basket and different things to rip up and chew. If they get bored or don’t get enough attention, conures can screech.

Food: Pellets as well as vegetables and some fruits. ZuPreem VeggieBlend was formulated with birds like conures in mind and includes flavors like carrots, green beans and beets. Provide fresh water daily.

All About Conures

  • Average size and weight:  10 to 15 inches, 3 to 9 ounces
  • Average lifespan: 20+ years
  • Sociability: If you can give them lots of love and attention, they are fine alone.
  • Talking ability: In general, conures aren’t known for their ability to talk. Of course, yours may surprise you.
  • Medical concerns: Avian bornavirus, obesity

Find out more about conures' talking abilities.

BEST FOR: 

More experienced pet bird parents who know their conure needs plenty of quality time, enriching toys and one-on-one attention. Since these birds can screech, they’re better for single-dwelling homes.


Best pet birds: African grey

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5African Greys

Of all the birds who can talk, the African grey is considered the best talker, which is what attracts people to bring one into their home. Besides their talking ability, this medium-size parrot is super intelligent, charming and sociable, making it one of the best parrots for pets. Because they’re so smart, African greys need plenty of mental stimulation. A bored African grey can be trouble waiting to happen. That said, most will do best with a regular routine.

Discover 4 ways to play with your pet African grey.

Keeping them happy:

Housing: Purchase the largest cage that you can fit into your space; they should be able to fully extend their wings and flap them without touching any of the cage walls.

Toys: Because African greys are foragers and solution-seekers by nature, toys like Super Bird Creations PVC Forager Bird Toy, or just something puzzle-like such as undoing knotted rope, will keep them well entertained.

Food: Pellets, vegetables and some fruits that are low in sugar and high in phytonutrients (such as papayas, berries and kiwis). High-quality, fresh-grade walnuts in the shell for them to crack and eat provide omega-3s. Provide fresh water daily.

Learn more about what you should feed your African grey parrot.

All About African Greys

  • Average size and weight:  13 to 15 inches, 14 ounces
  • Average lifespan: 30+ years
  • Sociability: They love to hang with you but can get bored easily, which can sometimes lead to aggression.
  • Talking ability: While not all will talk, all imitate sounds and repeat them all day long. Sensitive to noise? This can grate.
  • Medical concerns: Fungal infections, parasites, mites, allergies

BEST FOR: 

Experienced pet bird parents who can devote lots of time and energy to keeping these super-smart parrots stimulated—and are patient enough to put up with a pet who loves to mimic any sound at top volume.


Best pet birds: Amazon

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6Amazon Parrots

Be ready to be in it for the long haul, as Amazon parrots can easily reach 40 years old. They’re intelligent, social creatures, constantly in need of interaction and attention. These birds are typically recommended for more experienced pet bird parents due to their very specific personalities, needs, wants and care requirements. If you have what it takes, they can be wonderful companions, affectionate and loving and feisty enough to keep it interesting! Note: Trapping in the wild is now illegal in many species. Seek out only reputable captive-bred birds from breeders who actively support conservation efforts.

Keeping them happy:

Housing: Purchase the largest cage that you can fit into your space; they should be able to fully extend their wings and flap them without touching any of the cage walls.

Toys: Provide lots of social interaction, with mentally stimulating toys (foraging, shredding, puzzles) that are changed around weekly. Try JW Pet Hol-ee Roller Bird Toy and Super Bird Creations Bottoms Up Bird Toy which presents a different challenge, with see-through canisters that you can fill with treats.

Food: Prone to obesity; consult with your vet for best advice. Typical diets consist of pellets and plenty of vegetables and low-sugar fruits. Provide fresh water daily.

All About Amazon Parrots

  • Average size and weight:  10 to 17 inches, 10 to 27 ounces
  • Average lifespan: 40 to 50 years
  • Sociability: Like all parrots, they need a lot of attention. Babies are especially friendly.
  • Talking ability: Amazons are prized for their ability to pick up words and phrases.
  • Medical concerns: Obesity and heart disease, respiratory illnesses

Try these 10 tips to teach your parrot to talk.

BEST FOR: 

Parrot-savvy pet bird parents who are young enough so their pet won’t outlive them, are disciplined and love routine, and have plenty of hours each day to care for and play with these easily bored, intelligent birds.


Best pet birds: parrotlets

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7Parrotlets

Parrotlets, affectionately known as “pocket parrots,” are charming, miniature-size, true parrots who make for some of the best parrots for pets, especially if you are a first-time parent. While they may be tiny, parrotlets have big, charismatic personalities and can be trained to do all sorts of things, from stepping onto your finger to turning around and waving. Lovable and easily maintained, yet very territorial, you will find them at the center of your family life for years to come.

Keeping them happy:

Housing: The larger the cage, the happier they’ll be. Get a cage large enough to allow them to fully extend their wings, without getting their wing feathers caught on the sides or touching their tail feathers against the bottom grill.

Toys: Give them plenty of things to do such as climbing a rope ladder (Prevue Pet Products Naturals Rope Ladder), foraging for treats (Bonka Bird Toys foraging toy) and ringing a bell (Super Bird Creations Daisy Ring).

Food: Supplement food pellets with vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli florets) and fruits that are low in sugar; they are more inclined to eat fresh foods if minced small. Provide fresh water daily.

All About Parrotlets

  • Average size and weight:  4 to 5 inches, 1 ounce
  • Average lifespan:  15 to 20 years
  • Sociability: They thrive on attention—place cage in the family room or near the kitchen so they can see what’s going on.
  • Talking ability: They can be taught to say words and are not as noisy as other types of parrots.
  • Medical concerns: Yeast infections

Learn more about parrotlets, pint-size parrots.

BEST FOR: 

Newbie pet bird parents (their smaller size is perfect for smaller spaces such as apartments or townhouses) who want a smaller parrot to have fun with but don’t mind if their bird isn’t overly verbal.


Best pet birds: blue-headed pionus

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8Pionus Parrots

Just about as charming and personable as can be, pionus parrots are medium in size, but still smaller than an Amazon or African grey. And they are such fun to live with! Little acrobats, they love swinging, flying and just hanging out watching whatever you are doing. They’re not as noisy and are more easygoing with a sweeter disposition than Amazons, making them an excellent parrot for first-time bird parents who have the time to interact daily. They are easy to care for, very loving and playful, and have a mellow temper. 

Keeping them happy: 

Housing: They enjoy roomy playtop bird cages which allow for plenty of exercise both inside and outside your pet’s home. Check out MidWest Avian Adventures Playtop Bird Cage.

Toys: Polly's Pet Products Fun Roll Bird Toy gives birds an outlet for chewing and shredding instincts with a replaceable calculator paper roll.

Food: Formulated diets containing mostly pellets and more vegetables—like leafy greens, which have a high nutrient count—than fruits.

All About Pionus Parrots

  • Average size and weight: 10 to 12 inches, 8 to 11 ounces
  • Average lifespan: 20 to 40 years
  • Sociability: They thrive on their own if they have plenty to do and at least two to four hours of time with you a day.
  • Talking ability: They can learn to speak, but are not overly vocal.
  • Medical concerns: Fungal infections; try to keep all pet birds in a well-ventilated room.

BEST FOR: 

First-time pet bird parents looking for a gentle, less noisy parrot—but who have at least a couple of hours to play with their pet every day. Can be chatty, so not always the best choice for apartments or townhouses.


Best pet birds: finches

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9Finches

Super social, finches should never be kept as a solitary animal. They always need to be kept in groups of two or more. Although finches cannot be tamed quite like parrots, they are plenty of fun to listen to and watch. They come in a variety of stunning colors and make quiet “beep, beep, beep” noises that many find pleasant. The three most common types of finches are society, Gouldian and zebra.

Keeping them happy:

Housing: Finches can pretty much entertain themselves as long as you give them a wide cage to fly around in, such as the Prevue Pet Products Small Bird Flight Cage, and put it in a room where you hang out, like the family or living room.

Toys: Foraging toys and materials for making nests (shredded paper works fine). The Super Bird Creations Paper Party Bird Toy has bright, rolled paper sticks for birds to shred.

Food: Pellet-based with some seeds mixed in, as well as greens like spinach, watercress and lettuce. And two bowls of water—one for bathing, one for drinking, both of which you should change daily.

All About Finches

  • Average size and weight: 8 inches, 0.3 to 1.3 ounces
  • Average lifespan: 10 years
  • Sociability: Don’t really need human interaction, but some can be trained to perch on their parents’ finger; in general, they’re not that into human contact.
  • Talking ability: They don’t talk, but they’re very vocal!
  • Medical concerns: Respiratory illness, mite infections (Learn more about pet bird mites.)

Learn more about finches.

BEST FOR: 

Time-crunched first-time pet bird parents (their smaller size is perfect for smaller spaces such as apartments or townhouses) who are content to watch these entertaining birds chatter and frolic in their cages.


Best pet birds: ring-necked doves

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10Ring-Necked Doves

No, they’re not common pet birds—in fact, only 3 percent of bird parents keep doves. But they should be more popular. Docile and easygoing, doves love hanging out with their humans once they get used to them. Although some species are not well suited as pets, requiring advanced management with large and precise environments, other dove species are very well suited as companion pets. Ring-necked doves (Streptopelia risoria) and diamond doves (Geopelia cuneata) are two of the most widely kept species of doves. They’re perfect for people who want to keep birds as pets but don’t want to (or can’t) invest the time it takes to care for a parrot.

Keeping them happy:

Housing: They need a wide cage with several perches, bells and swings. JW Pet Swing N' Perch provides birds like doves a comfortable place to swing and perch. 

Toys: Foraging toys and materials for making nests (shredded paper works fine). The Super Bird Creations Paper Party Bird Toy has bright, rolled paper sticks for birds to shred.

Food: Choose a commercial-prepared diet of pellets that is especially formulated for doves. 

All About Ring-Necked Doves

  • Average size and weight:  11 to 13 inches, 5 to 8 ounces
  • Average lifespan: 10 years
  • Sociability: They’re fine on their own, but some do love to be petted or have you engaged in playing with their toys.
  • Talking ability: Well, they don't “talk,” but they love to coo.
  • Medical concerns: Calcium deficiency, parasites

Learn more about keeping doves as pets.

BEST FOR: 

First-time pet bird parents who are looking for a quiet, devoted companion who can learn a trick or two, but who will mainly just hang out with them. Cooing is nice, with an almost ASMR effect.


No matter which of the bird breeds you add to your family, a vet can play an important role in your bird’s life. You want to pick, ideally, a veterinarian who has shown a strong interest in learning about birds and who is board certified in avian medicine. After you’ve adopted your ideal pet bird, be sure to take your new friend to the vet as soon as possible for tests to check the health of your bird.

If you suspect your pet is sick, please call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your regular veterinarian when possible as they can make the best recommendations for your pet. (If you need help finding a vet near you, use this link.)

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By: Linda RodgersPublished: Updated:

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