Birds are both adorable and majestic, sweet and stoic. Having a pet bird can be fun and enjoyable for your family, but you must choose the right bird to suit your needs. What do you need and want from a pet bird? The right bird for each family is out there. First, you need to learn which species are best suited for your home and lifestyle. In choosing the best pet bird for beginners, answer the following:
- Are you looking for a chirpy companion that you can play with and give attention to like you would a cat or dog?
- Do you live in a small space that doesn’t allow dogs or cats, but you’d like a pet to keep you company?
- Are you wanting a living piece of art to look at and enjoy but not handle very much?
- Do you want a bird that will live 30-40 years, or do you want a shorter commitment?
A pet bird is a lot of fun, but they require different care than cats or dogs. Some birds are more high maintenance than others. Make sure you choose a species that you can handle with regards to upkeep and husbandry.
Our Top Picks: Best Pet Birds for Beginners
These are not in best-to-worst order because each species mentioned below has its own unique attributes and characteristics. No bird is one-size-fits-all. Once you decide on your capacity for caring for a bird, the following can help you choose which will fit into your family and your life the best.
- Best Overall: Budgies / Parakeets. These inexpensive birds are sweet and timid, making them the best pet birds for beginners. They have small voices, but they can learn to talk and are easy to handle.
- Best for Families: Finches. The finch is a darling little bird that loves socializing, so make sure you get at least 2. They are hands-off, making them pretty low maintenance for busy families.
- Best for Apartments: Poicephalus Parrots and Parrotlets. Friendly and affectionate 5-inch tall parrots that love to be pet and are soft-spoken. No loud whistling or singing makes these quiet birds suitable for small living spaces with shared walls.
- Most Musical: Quaker Parrots. This medium-sized parrot comes in a variety of vibrant colors and is so very smart! Teach them to talk and sing for years of sweet avian music in your home.
- Best for Hands-Off Owners: Canaries. These fuzzy yellow birds prefer not to be handled but will provide you with a song as they happily hang out in their cages.
- Most Affectionate: Peach-Face Lovebirds. If you are looking for a bird to train to cuddle with, peach-face lovebirds are the bird for you. These snuggly birds love being held.
1. Budgies / Parakeets
The best pet birds for beginners overall
Family: Psittaculidae | Origin: Australia | Average Size: 7″ | Average Weight: 1-2 oz | Average Life Span: 5-10 Years
Parakeets are beloved as a household pet because they are inexpensive, don’t live very long, and love to socialize with their humans. Budgies for sale usually come in light blue or green and have stripes on their heads that fade as they get older.
- Very active and playful
- Quieter than most parrots but can be vocal and can be taught to sing
- Place their cage in the busiest room of your house. Allow exposure to the sights and sounds of your home and your family
- Toys amuse them, and adding fun elements to their cage will give them something to do.
- Budgies cannot be free-range within your home and require direct supervision when out of their cage.
- Parakeets need a varied diet
- Offer your budgie fresh foods like vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, rice, beans, sprouted seeds, and pasta.
- Seeds are a fun treat but cannot be the bird’s sole diet as they are not balanced nutrition and are high in fat.
- Offer fresh, clean water and anticipate changing the water frequently to keep it clean.
- Your new parakeet’s cage should be big enough that they can fully extend their wings and flap without touching the sides of the habitat.
- Keep your budgie’s cage clean by using a safe substrate at the cage’s bottom.
- Provide perches but make sure they aren’t over their food and water dishes. One of these perches needs to be a rough material for filing down their nails.
- Birds love natural light so make sure they live in a space with plenty of light and air circulation.
- Recommended physical exam every 6-12 months by a veterinarian that specializes in avian medicine
- Annual fecal examination to test for worms and parasites, bacteria, and yeast
- Wing or nail trimming as needed
The best pet birds for families
Family: Fringillidae | Origin: Global | Average Size: 7″ | Average Weight: 1-3 oz | Average Life Span: 5-10 Years
There are hundreds of varieties of finches that people keep as pets. Most of them have similar temperaments and enjoy the company of their own kind to the company of humans. While they are hands-off, they are still a great pet for families. Buy two finches, and they will keep each other company while entertaining you with their beauty and song. Clipping a finch’s wings is not recommended.
- Prefer to be untouched
- No loud chirping from these little passerines! They are more likely to make little meep and peep sounds than burst into a loud song.
- Happy finches have roommates, so if you’re getting a finch, get at least two and keep them in the same enclosure. With that said, without a vet determining the sex, there is no definitive way of knowing if your birds will mate. Anticipate offspring unless you know that your pair is same-sex and incapable of mating.
- Like all birds on this list, pellets designed for their specific species will be the best choice for optimal, complete nutrition.
- Offer tasty snacks like seeds, fruit, vegetables, and grains but not as plentiful as pellets.
- Provide a horizontal rather than vertical cage
- Since they are likely to never leave their cage, make sure you keep it clean and offer plenty of enrichment.
- We recommend yearly veterinary visits.
- Regular beak and nail trims performed by a trained aviary groomer or veterinarian, but wing clipping is discouraged.
3. Poicephalus Parrots
The best pet birds for apartments
Family: Psittacidae | Origin: Africa | Average Size: 10″ | Average Weight: 9 oz | Average Life Span: 30+ Years
If you’re looking for a life-long pal to join you in your small space, the poicephalus parrot is a great choice. These chubby little birds are stockier than other parrot species, but they don’t get much taller than 8-10 inches as adults. These colorful birds aren’t one for being held, but they love pets, especially on top of their heads.
- Quieter than other parrot species
- Playful and outgoing
- Can be shy. Make sure interactions are mutually enjoyable, or they will bite!
- Parrot pellets should be their primary source of calories and nutrition
- Supplement with fresh fruit and vegetables
- Always supply your parrot with fresh water
- These little climbers need a cage with plenty of horizontal bars
- Provide plenty of enrichment in the form of ropes and ladders
- Proper husbandry, which includes clean housing, a balanced diet, and a non-stressful environment, can minimize the likelihood of fungal diseases common in birds.
- Bornavirus is a condition in birds to watch out for. Look for weight loss despite eating and poorly digested food and regurgitation
- We recommend annual exams with an avian veterinarian.
4. Quaker Parrot
The most musical pet birds for beginners
Family: Psittacidae | Origin: South America | Average Size: 11″ | Average Weight: 3-4 oz | Average Life Span: 15-20 Years
These vibrant green birds are known for their talkative nature and their ability to learn mimicry at a very young age. They are outlawed in some states due to their destructive nature and noise when they colonize in the wild. Make sure these beautiful birds aren’t banned in your state before buying one.
- Their name derives from their trademark behavior of quaking and bobbing around. It may look strange, but it is perfectly normal.
- Quaker parrots require socialization with their humans and will bond with their family as well as another quaker if introduced early enough.
- These birds are fervent nest builders and will construct huge domiciles if given the materials to do so.
- Training a quaker to talk and mimic is easy since they are eager and receptive to learning lots of words.
- Fresh fruits and root vegetables along with healthy table food like nuts and seeds
- Quakers love colorful produce like peppers and berries.
- Pellets are a staple of a parrot’s diet.
- Quakers love to chew, so make sure their enclosure contains a lot of chewable-safe branches and toys.
- They are nesters, so if you provide them with plenty of twigs, they will build elaborate nests.
- Quakers are prone to self-destructive behaviors like feather plucking.
- If fed a too-high fat diet of seeds and nuts, they can develop fatty liver disease.
The best pet birds for hands-off owners
Family: Fringillidae | Origin: Europe | Average Size: 3-4″ | Average Weight: 1 oz | Average Life Span: 10-15 Years
Canaries are best known for their bright yellow plumage and lovely singing voice. These sweet little birds are part of the finch family, and just like other finch species, they do not like being held. Canaries are also a great choice if you want to own a single bird; these sunny beauties are content being alone.
- Timid and shy; most females are not songbirds, but the males can carry a tune.
- If your bird is happy, they will respond to your voice with chirping and singing.
- As always, pellets formulated for finches should be your canary’s main form of nourishment.
- Canaries love beans, cabbage, carrots, peas, and fruits in smaller amounts.
- Avoid avocado and the seeds and leaves of fruits, which are toxic to birds.
- Since your canary will be spending all of their time in a cage, make sure it’s large enough for them to fly around in.
- Avoid sandpaper perches for canaries, but irregular wood perches are great.
- Mirrors, bells, ropes, and ladders will entertain your canary and offer enrichment.
- Susceptible to mite infestations- you can easily treat this if you notice early.
- Canary pox transmits via mosquito vector, so make sure you treat your property for insects, especially during the summer months.
The most affectionate pet birds for beginners
Family: Psittaculidae | Origin: Africa | Average Size: 6″ | Average Weight: 1-2 oz | Average Life Span: 20-30 Years
These charming birds come in a rainbow of hues and have colorful personalities to match. They are playful and mischievous and love cuddles and pets. Whether you get one or a pair, a lovebird or two will bring cheer to your home.
- Lovebirds are escape artists, so make sure their habitat is secure, or you are watching them while they are flying around your home.
- A single lovebird will bond with their owner and act as affectionate as a lap dog.
- If living as a pair, lovebirds will bond, possibly ignoring their humans.
- Canaries are prone to nutrition disorders, so proper diet is crucial.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables along with lovebird-specific pellets.
- Females will lay eggs without a male around, so make sure their diet is rich in calcium.
- The larger the cage, the better.
- If you do not have space for a large aviary, make sure your lovebird gets plenty of free-range time in your home.
- Wire cages are best since they are easier to keep clean than wood, bamboo, or plastic.
- Avian chlamydiosis is a zoonotic disease that can be passed from bird to human. You can treat it with antibiotics.
- Self-mutilation is common, so make sure your lovebird isn’t lonely, bored, or malnourished.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pet Birds For Beginners
As you’ve no doubt noticed by now, small birds are best suited for beginners and those in small living spaces. Make sure you have room for a cage and a safe space for your bird to enjoy the free-range flight. Maintaining their diet is easy if you purchase pellets or seed designed for their specific species along with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Compiling a best-of list can be challenging: deciding on criteria and rating metrics, weeding through information provided by amateur birders and exotics veterinarians, and then articulating the list from a place of knowledge and experience.
This reviewer has several years of veterinary experience and education and can speak intelligently on the topic of pet birds. Even so, we read hundreds of reviews (both positive and negative) and medical articles from multiple sources in order to compare data and create our list of the best pet birds for beginners.
Also, a special thanks to David Innes, Bram Cymet, Mick Thompson, and Creative Commons for their quality imagery and licenses.