What Species of Parrots Make the Best Pets?

What Species of Parrots Make the Best Pets?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Let’s start with parrots falling under a definite no. 

Kea for one. The New Zealand Alpine parrot lives in the snowy mountains and is really smart but extremely destructive.

If you live in India you can’t keep a Ringneck, ironically they are considered pests in Australia.

So that narrows it down to almost 11,000 alternate species (there is only one species of dog)

The question answered on Quora

In many of the threads I read, it’s all about “cockatiels” or “conures”.

To say a particular parrot species is a fool’s errand.

How many times have you read/heard “don’t even think about getting a macaw,” inferring there is only one type of macaw, not the 43 species we’ve identified?

I love this video of Nick who inherited a Hyacinth and Greenwing macaw through a business partner’s death.

Here’s a recent encounter with the trio on a Chicago sidewalk 20 years later. 

Bird rescues are filled with birds whose humans had NO IDEA they were that messy or that noisy.

I will advocate DON’T go looking for a bird. Instead, put the word out – friends, neighbors, social – that you are seeking some feathered company, then see what happens.

We have 11 birds. they ALL found us. An African ringneck, a Quaker, a cockatiel, and 8 budgies.

They all found us. They all came out of other people’s homes rescued by me physically or abandoned by a human that required immediate rescue.

Yes, we live with 11 birds,

I usually pull off all 4 birdcage covers between 7:30 and 8 AM – the 8 full spectrum lights over the four cages across from our bet come on at 8:30 AM.

How Pet Bird Keepers Get The Lighting Thing Wrong

Sometime between 9 and 10 I take Keto the ringneck and Chili the Quaker to their downstairs work cages for assisting mom with customer service.

By 4 PM they are all back on top of their home cages until birdie bedtime at 8:30 PM (with no respect for daylight savings time).

Barney the cockatiel is sullen and prone to mood swings.

Two weeks ago when I walked by him high on his cage’s Booda rope perch he would bow his head indicating he would like head scritches which I would gladly provide.

Lately, all he does is spread his wings like an alpha male and hisses. Today he was too quick for me and got a chunk of skin.

All our birds are flighted I’ve been very upfront about our keeping birds flighted philosophy.

Flighted Or Clipped Wings – Our Readers Weigh In

You’ll note I’ve made no species recommendations, and won’t but will provide insight into our thinking when we bring strange birds into our home.

Circling back to Barney, he no longer would jump on my finger and bow his head for a scritch – he is in constant attack mode.

How Did Another Rescue (Quaker) Bird Find Us?

We grabbed his feathered butt and gave him a slight wing clipping meaning he can no longer fly away to a perch too high for humans or give us a wild chase.

We’ve done that in the past which usually humbles the bird for a few months as he begrudgingly is forced to walk up a ladder into his cage.

We also clip ALL the bird’s wings that enter our home regardless of their flying skills for a few reasons.

By the way, it’s best to examine your home for potential safety issues before introducing a bird of any kind, as in the video.

Uncertain territory can hamper navigation and result in crashes. This is especially true if you have light-colored walls in your home.

A couple of years back a self-driving Tesla rear-ended a box truck. The truck was white with no signage.

The final investigation concluded the “car” thought the back of the truck was “sky”.

We don’t know how a bird views its surroundings because it can see light that we can not – don’t take chances.

Birdcage size has always been one of my favorite discussions being a birdcage sales guy.

“Get the biggest cage you can afford” is the most repeated advice.

Should You Really Buy the Biggest Cage You Can Afford?

That means if Elon Musk got a bird the cage should be the size of Texas (which is true) but not going to happen.

The cage size rule changes if your bird can be outside of its cage for several hours a day. The needed cage does not have to be the largest.

If you will be gone most of the day and your bird has to be kept inside a cage, then a larger cage is very important.

If you live in a small apartment do not get a LARGE macaw.

Where will you place a 3-foot x 4-foot birdcage?

Let’s examine this cage-size thing further. A Congo African grey is considered a big bird at 400 grams. An Indian ringneck is only about 115 grams.

BUT CAGS are 13 inches long and ringnecks are 16 Inches long – Greys have longer wingspans but both require a similar (at a minimum) size cage .

“Get a conure” are words I hear much too often.

There are about 120 species of ranging from green cheeks smaller than cockatiels to conures like the Patagonian conure, also known as the burrowing parrot that is the size of a Timneh African grey parrot.

List of Types of Conure Parrot Species

We lump “parrots” into too large a pool so we need to break things down categorically to create a “funnel” if you will for easier pet bird dreams – this short list helps narrow down all 11,000 or so species to about 800 species a much easier number to get our heads around.

  • Waxbills
  • Hardbills
  • Hookbills
  • Softbills.

Your Bird’s Beak – What You Didn’t Know

A finch will never tear your skin with its beak.

At the end of the day, there are no rules for selecting a pet bird, it’s always best for the bird to find you.

Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

Your Zygodactyl Footnote

11 birds ~ 4 birdcages – lights off

4 bird cages with 3 small parrot and 11 budgies

11 birds ~ 4 birdcages – lights on

4 bird cages with 3 small parrot and 11 budgies all cages with overhead full spectrum lighting - annotated

As far as which species of parrots make the best pets, I would say a little parakeet or a cockatiel. I say that because they can fly around your house all day and make their own life as part of yours. I have come to where I feel the larger parrots should not be bred for the pet industry at all.

Most of them cannot be kept for a life time beause they live so long. It is unfair to cage them as they should be living wild and free. Most end up being given away over and over. I am not saying that there are some situations where the bird is truly a family member, but for the most part it is only a bad and rapacious industry that promotes them.
Richard C. 9/11/2022

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