For prospective owners trying to figure out which bird is a good fit, there are endless varieties. It’s completely down to you.
For instance, there are senegals, caiques, pionus, Indian Ringnecks, Alexandrian parakeets, quakers, eclectus parrots, cockatoos and cockatiels, budgies, lovebirds, and lots of species of Amazons – to name a handful. Each one of them is fascinating, beautiful, and unique – as, of course, are the individuals. Birds range in both price and size. A parrotlet is the smallest parrot bred in aviculture, and can be purchased for around £70 (hand-tamed), while a Hyacinth macaw runs at around £10,000 and is the largest.
What’s the best species for new/first-time owners looking to buy? There are a lot of theories out there – but I’d say it’s a lot easier to define what isn’t (any of the white cockatoos, I think – and if you’re considering one, click that link for a different, rather terrifying look at them). We currently share our home with a beautiful umbrella ‘too, and though he is a stunning creature, he is not a pet for the faint of heart. He has tantrums, meltdowns, and carries a lot of emotional baggage… And he’s big enough to do serious damage when he fancies it. Honestly, I can see how people struggle to keep up with these ‘velcro birds.’ They demand your everything, and if you can’t give it, trouble is in your future.
Some highly popular and less complex first pets include budgies and cockatiels… These birds are cute, clever, and full of personality, plus they won’t send you to A&E if they bite you. (It does hurt a lot, mind you.) Cockatiels and budgies have the added advantage of being potentially good family pets. Many parrots are simply too large and unpredictable to trust with children. Budgies and ‘tiels are great in that – with the right training and socialisation – they tend to be calm and sweet-natured. Plus, if they become upset, they can’t do as much damage as a big bird can.
It’s an insult to smaller birds, though, to think of them as ‘less’ than one of the large parrots – to label them as ‘starter pets’ because of their size is simply unfair. In reality, all avians are demanding, messy, and noisy; some more than others, yes, it’s true. But they all need and deserve love, respect, and commitment.
It stands to reason, then, that my personal opinion is that you do not need a so-called starter bird! If you have the time, resources, commitment, and space, a bigger bird is not necessarily a bad choice. It’s really about the owner. What can you give a bird – and what do you want from one? Do your research, and understand what you’re getting into. Do you mind bringing home a toddler for life? That’s what parrots are often compared to.
The best way to prepare yourself – to see what you can and can’t stand – is to volunteer at a parrot rescue. You may not be adopting (though I would encourage you to try it), but this will teach you the ins and outs of ownership. Don’t assume that you can handle these birds, or that it will be easy and straightforward. I often find myself humbled on a daily basis.
slaves owners who read this blog, I’d love to hear from you about the birds you keep or work with. If you have a moment, feel free to share a bit about your favourites!