Why choose a small pet bird over a larger species? Small birds make great pets for several reasons. They're often easier to manage due to their smaller proportions, they're quieter, and they're unquestionably adorable. If you're looking for the best small pet bird to add to your flock or as your first feathered pet, consider one of these 10 great birds.
10 Best Small Birds for Pets
- Finch (3 to 5 inches)
- Pacific Parrotlet (4 to 5 inches)
- Canary (4 to 6 inches)
- Lovebird (5 to 7 inches)
- Diamond Dove (6 to 8 inches)
- Parakeet (6 to 9 inches)
- Senegal Parrot (9 inches)
- Serama Chicken (6 to 10 inches)
- Green-cheeked Conure (8 to 10 inches)
- Black-headed Caique (9 to 10 inches)
Finches are the smallest bird you can successfully keep as a pet at between 3 and 5 inches long and less than an ounce in weight. However, these petite birds are incredibly social, so you're looking at bringing home at least a pair of finches.
Despite their small size, these birds need relatively large cages with plenty of horizontal space for flying and gliding. Finches aren't cuddly pet birds. They don't do well with handling and prefer to socialize with birds of their kind rather than humans.
- Finch considerations: Must be kept in pairs or groups; does not enjoy handling; needs a large enclosure.
- Finch size: 3 to 5 inches long
2. Pacific Parrotlet
The parrotlet is fondly referred to as the "Pocket Parrot" because they're small enough to fit in your pocket. At a mere 4 to 5 inches, these are the smallest parrots you can keep as a pet. Parrotlets are intelligent and spunky birds that can be trained to speak, though they're not the best talkers.
They're best kept alone because these tiny parrots can become territorial and attack cage mates or even other pets in the home. Several types of parrotlets exist, but the Pacific parrotlet is the most commonly kept as a pet, as well as the most widely available.
- Parrotlet considerations: Can be territorial; needs a cage at least 30 inches by 18 inches by 18 inches.
- Parrotlet size: 4 to 5 inches long
It's possible to have your very own Tweety Bird with a small canary as your pet. This cheerful bird is closely related to the finch and is nearly as small at only 4 to 6 inches long. Canaries need moderate-sized cages in order to fly horizontally, but they're not social, so a single canary is perfectly fine on their own.
However, don't expect to hold your pet canary because they really don't like being handled. What you can expect are melodic chirps and warbles from this tiny pet bird.
- Canary considerations: Best when housed alone; needs a moderate-sized cage; doesn't tolerate handling.
- Canary size: 4 to 6 inches long
Lovebirds aren't the best choice for beginner bird owners, but they are excellent small pets for those with experience keeping birds. These little birds are only 5 to 7 inches long, but they certainly have as much personality as many of the larger species. Lovebirds are feisty and occasionally aggressive.
They must be handled regularly in order to keep them tame. It's a common misconception that lovebirds have to be kept as a pair. A solo lovebird can thrive if they're given enough human attention.
- Lovebird considerations: best suited for experienced bird owners; can be kept alone or with a companion; needs frequent attention and handling.
- Lovebird size: 5 to 7 inches long
5. Diamond Dove
The dove is an often overlooked bird that can make an incredible pet. Diamond doves are one of the smallest dove types and reach between 6 and 8 inches when fully grown. They're also very quiet, making pleasant "coos," which most owners find calming.
Diamond doves are docile birds, though they have relatively delicate bodies, so all handling should be done with care. If you're interested in a dove that's slightly hardier yet larger than the diamond dove, you could explore the ringneck variety.
- Dove considerations: Can be handled carefully; not noisy; needs a large horizontal cage or aviary-type enclosure.
- Diamond dove size: 6 to 8 inches long
Are you looking for a small pet bird that can talk? Look no further than the parakeet. Sometimes called the budgerigar or simply budgie, the parakeet is a very popular little bird for many reasons. They're excellent beginner birds and perfect for small living spaces, as they don't need excessively large cages (minimum of 30 inches by 18 inches by 18 inches for a pair).
These friendly pets also enjoy being held. While you can keep a single parakeet, these small social birds prefer to be kept in pairs or groups so they have constant companionship.
- Parakeet considerations: Does best in pairs or groups; can learn to talk; does well in apartments or small spaces.
- Parakeet size: 6 to 9 inches
7. Senegal Parrot
The words "small," "calm," and "parrot" may not sound like they belong in the same sentence, but the Senegal parrot embodies all these qualities. These tiny pet parrots reach approximately 9 inches long from their head to the tip of their tail.
Even though the clever Senegal parrot can learn to speak, they're not noisy, so they are a great choice for quiet homes. However, these pets are a lifelong commitment, as they can live to be 40 years old.
- Senegal parrot considerations: Quiet and shy personality; needs a large cage and supervised time outside the enclosure.
- Senegal parrot size: 9 inches long
8. Serama Chicken
If a miniature chicken sounds like an interesting pet, you should consider the Serama chicken. Seramas are about a quarter of the size of a regular chicken and max out between 6 and 10 inches tall.
Everything about these chickens is small, including their eggs! Because of their small size and friendly personalities, many people keep their Serama chickens indoors.
- Serama chicken considerations: Can be loud; needs a large horizontal enclosure; can be messy.
- Serama chicken size: 6 to 10 inches tall
9. Green-cheeked Conure
Families in search of a small bird for a pet might find the green-cheeked conure a good fit. These parrots reach no more than 10 inches long, though they do need a good-sized cage of at least 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet.
Green-cheeked conures are very cuddly, affectionate birds who love to play. They need plenty of interaction each day, so they're not ideal for busy owners who can't give them the attention they require.
- Green-cheeked conure considerations: Need hours of daily interaction; very cuddly and friendly; relatively quiet parrots.
- Green-cheeked conure size: 8 to 10 inches long
10. Black-headed Caique
The goofy black-headed caique is a small bird with an enormous personality. Many bird enthusiasts call them the "Dancing Parrot" because they love to hop and bob around.
If their clownish antics aren't channeled into productive training and enrichment, the caique can become destructive. Even though they're small at around 9 to 10 inches long, be prepared to spend a lot of time with this entertaining pet bird.
- Black-headed caique considerations: Silly, clownish personality; needs a large enclosure; requires daily enrichment, exercise, and training.
- Black-headed caique size: 9 to 10 inches long
Small Pet Birds Need Adequate Space
It's important to remember that "small" doesn't necessarily mean "low-maintenance." Even though these pet birds are small in size, they still need adequate space to stretch their wings. Review the care requirements for the species of your choice to find out what size cage you'll need as well as how much time and energy you'll need to invest in your new pet bird. With the right care, you can enjoy your small bird's company, knowing they live a full, healthy life.