The five popular pet birds fit well into any home or apartment and give lots of delight to their lucky owners. Of course, you want to obtain a young, preferably hand-fed bird that will be easy to tame and train. The following information should give you a basic idea of the characteristics and qualities of each species so that you can make an informed decision.
Parakeets, also known as budgies or budgerigars, are probably the most popular small bird and a great choice for beginner parrot enthusiasts. These little bundles of feathers, if tamed when very young, can often be very good with children as long as the children understand the bird is not a toy but a living, feeling creature with wants and desires all its own.
Available in a rainbow of colors, they require little space compared to large birds and taking care of them is simple and easy. They are very intelligent; many learn a large vocabulary of human words, whistles and even songs.
Parakeets live from 12 to 20 years if cared for properly. If you are not going to be home much to interact with the parakeet, purchase two and they will play together and provide lots of joy watching them. These pets are also good for older people who don't want all the responsibility and maintenance of a dog or cat. Food cost is minimal but budgies love to eat lots of human foods along with their seeds or pellets and they relish vegetables and grasses.
Parakeets are native to Australia where huge flocks of them still fly in the sparsely populated regions. It is interesting to note that "budgerigar" comes from an Aborigines word that means "pretty good eating" but not one in the modern world would want to eat one of these beautiful little creatures.
Cockatiels are another great choice for the novice pet owner. These medium sized birds are also native to Australia. They can learn to talk and sing quite well and learn other sounds such as telephones ringing, door bells and much more. Their whistling ability allows them to learn entire whistled songs.
Cockatiels can live from 15 to 30 or more years with diligent care. They are playful and often good with children. Their intelligence level is very high but they are a bit calmer that the energetic, playful parakeet. The colorful orange spots on each cheek give them a clownish look that is loved by millions.
Sun conures are medium sized parrots and have the most colorful feathers of any of the five most popular species. They are not much larger than a cockatiel but a bit fuller in their bodies. The red, orange, yellow, blue and green plumage in adulthood is striking. They can learn to talk but they also have very loud screams which are used to alarm for danger and to show displeasure.
These playful parrots can live from 25 to 50 or more years of age provided accident or illness does not shorten their lives. Their larger, stronger beaks do not make them a good prospect for families with children because they can easily break the skin when displeased and pushed to the point of biting. Purchase a hand-raised baby and train it well and you'll have an adoring friend for a long time.
Parrotlets are small parrots that are quiet feisty. Their intelligence level is very high and they tend to have the attitude of a much larger bird. They can live up to 30 years which is a long time for a little creature that only measures about five inches long!
Parrotlets can learn more than 1015 words and can "whistle" songs well. They have about the same speaking and whistling capabilities of a cockatiel. They are also very good learners for commands such as "step up", "kiss-kiss", "step down", and other small commands. Some parrotlets can learn advanced tricks, but not as advanced as a Macaw or an African grey. Having the ability to speak does not necessarily mean a bird will speak; it depends on the specific bird's personality.
African grays round out the top five most popular birds for pets. These birds are highly intelligent and can learn to speak thousands of words. They can be demanding and get bored easily, requiring lots of attention and toys. These larger birds can live 50 to 100 or more years with proper care. In fact, there have been documented cases of them living over 130 years. These are fun and bright companions that want to be with you everywhere you go.