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My First Bird

What Kind of Bird Should I Get?

You've done your research, learned about what it takes to own a pet bird and you have decided to add a feathered friend to your family. That's fantastic! But now the question is what kind of bird is best for you. Just like all pets, birds come in a variety of sizes, personalities and noise levels so finding that perfect match is an important first step in what will be a lifelong friendship.

What Size Bird Should I Get?

From finches with a wing span of just a few inches to macaws whose wing span can reach up to four feet, birds come in a variety of sizes. To help you out, we've broken down some of the most popular types of birds into three main bird size categories:

  • Small to Medium: Cockatiels, lovebirds, parakeets, parrotlets, caiques, small cockatoos, small conures, lories, lorikeets, Meyers, Pionus parrots, quakers, ringnecks and Senegals.

  • Medium to Large: Caiques, small cockatoos, small conures, lories, lorikeets, large parakeets, Pionus parrots, Senegals, Meyers, African greys, Amazons, large cockatoos, large conures, eclectus, hawk-headed parrots and mini-macaws.

  • Large to Extra-Large:African greys, Amazons, large conures, eclectus, hawk- headed parrots, mini-macaws, large cockatoos and macaws.
The larger the bird, the more space they will require. It is recommended to buy your bird the largest cage you are able to fit in your available space, so looking at your living arrangements is the first step in selecting the size of bird. Remember, you will most likely have this bird for years, even decades in many cases, so make sure you will have ample space.

Bird Personality Traits

Personality traits vary widely among birds. Being socialized at an early age, going through training and even their diet can all affect a bird's behavior and personality. Some birds like to live alone while others are happiest living in small groups. Some birds are big talkers, while others just like to sing. Since every bird is different, it's important to research information about each type of bird so you make sure your personalities mesh. To help you out, here are a few general personality traits for some of the more popular types of birds; but remember, pinning a parrots personality isn't once size fits all. Every bird is different.

  • Parakeets or budgies tend to be friendly, playful and social. They are one of the most popular pet birds in the United States. Patience is key when building a relationship with a budgie.

  • Conures are typically gentle in nature. They are often playful, acrobatic and entertaining.

  • Cockatiels are usually active and cheerful. Females are more likely to be gentle and not as attention seeking. Meanwhile male cockatiels are in your face and want to be petted now. And if you aren't paying attention to him, he may bite to get his point across.

  • Senegal parrots have a reputation for being one-person birds and tend to develop a significantly stronger bond with their chosen person.

  • African greys have an intelligent personality and a sensitive and quiet nature.

  • Cockatoos love attention and are happiest spending time outside their cage cuddling with their human. They are exceptionally loving and devoted.

  • Amazon parrots are often considered independent birds because of their strong personalities. They are intelligent, outgoing and love attention. But they also can be quite affectionate and are great at learning tricks.

  • Macaws are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds. They are social, have a big personality and like to talk. Most macaws do not need constant, physical touch. Many macaws entertain themselves when left alone for short periods of time.
All birds, but especially larger parrots such as macaws and Amazons tend to have unique personalities that require their owner to take time to really get to know their bird.

Let's Chirp, Squawk and Talk

Birds chirp… they squawk… they talk… and they SCREAM! When deciding what type of bird to get, it's important to ask how much noise will this bird make? If you live in an apartment or have a shared living space, make sure your neighbors or roommates won't be bothered by the noise. Just like birds' personalities, their noise levels also vary. But there are a few general guidelines you can go by as to what kind of noise you can expect.

  • Parakeets or budgies are quiet compared to other parrots. They are an ideal for anyone living in an apartment or condo. Budgies are able to learn to speak words and phrases; however, they have scratchy, little voices, so it may be tricky to understand what is being said.

  • Conures are typically quiet and can speak a few words.

  • Typically male cockatiels talk and whistle, while the female isn't quite so loud.

  • Senegal parrots usually are not considered loud and for this reason are a good bird to consider if you live in an apartment. Although it's important to note, they aren't exactly silent either. Senegal parrots can make a very high-pitched beeping sound and are also good at whistling and imitating sounds.

  • African greys tend to be some of the best talkers with a large vocabulary. When an African grey talks it usually knows exactly what it is saying. In addition to talking, African greys are excellent at repeating noises such as a telephone or doorbell.

  • Cockatoos are loud and are famous for their screaming sessions. They have a need to be loud. Some recommend designating a "screaming time" each day and training your cockatoo to know when it is okay and when it is not okay to be loud.

  • Amazons are good at talking, although they are usually mimicking what is being said. Amazons are also known to be quite raucous and like to participate in loud squawking sessions, particularly in the morning or evening. Amazon parrots are typically not good choices for anyone living in an apartment or close living quarters.

  • Macaws are an alpha bird and they let everyone know it. If you're considering getting a macaw, be aware, things will get noisy. Frequent screaming is a normal behavior for macaws; however, they can be trained to tone down their vocalizations and be quiet most of the time.

When going to buy your bird, make sure it's from a reputable source. If it's an older bird, ask about its past to make sure the bird doesn't have a history of destructive behavior, excessive noise or feather picking. It's also important to find out whether there is a return policy if the bird is found to be sick. Once you decide what type of bird you want, the next question is "What Will My New Bird Need?"


American Veterinary Medical Association

Association of Avian Veterinarians

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