If you've never owned a bird before, it's best to begin with a "starter bird" or a pet bird that's good for beginners. Even though they're easier to care for, all of these birds are entertaining, attractive, and have their own playful quirks. Plus, they're smaller, making them more manageable and less messy than larger parrots. Choose between the parakeet, cockatiel, canary, zebra finch, monk parakeet, or Pionus parrot if you're looking for the best pet birds for beginners.
6 Best Pet Birds for Beginners
Are you ready to bring a feathered friend into your home for the first time? Pick one of these great pet birds for beginners to start your journey.
It's no surprise parakeets are one of the most popular pet birds in the United States. These small birds are easy to care for and very rewarding to keep. This may come as a surprise, but parakeets are excellent talking birds, and they can be taught several tricks. Because they're smart birds, they do need enrichment toys and activities to keep them busy.
If you'd like to get just one parakeet, know that they're social birds, so you'll have to invest quite a bit of time into interacting with your pet. However, they also enjoy the company of other birds. Get a pair of parakeets or even a small group so they have feathered friends to play with.
- Size: Small
- Lifespan: 9 years
- Personality: Friendly, social, docile, manageable, intelligent.
- Cage size: 20 inches by 18 inches by 18 inches.
- Care level: Easy to care for, needs daily interaction and/or cage mates.
Cockatiels are like the puppies of the bird world, but without the frequent walks and drooling. They're incredibly friendly, gentle, and affectionate. They tend to bond quickly with their owners and can be fond of cuddling. Given their social nature, you'll need to provide your cockatiel with plenty of attention as well as out-of-the-cage playtime. Cockatiels are an intelligent species and can easily learn to talk.
- Size: Medium
- Lifespan: 15 years
- Personality: Very friendly, playful, social, affectionate, likes to cuddle.
- Cage size: Minimum 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet.
- Care level: Needs daily interaction and engagement.
If you're fine with owning a bird you can't hold or cuddle with, the canary is a great choice. These small, yellow birds are quite shy, so they don't like being handled by people. However, they're perfectly happy flying around their enclosure and making melodic sounds all day.
Canaries can become territorial, so they do best when housed alone. Despite their small size, you will need to provide a relatively large, horizontal cage for your canary. Aside from feedings and cage cleanings, you won't need to provide your pet with extensive attention. Not only is the canary a great bird for beginners, but they're an excellent choice for busy owners.
- Size: Very small
- Lifespan: 12 years
- Personality: Shy, not friendly, doesn't like to be handled.
- Cage size: Horizontal cage, minimum of 18 inches by 24 inches by 28 inches.
- Care level: Can be messy, doesn't need much interaction.
Male canaries are the better singers. Males are typically slightly more brightly colored, and are slightly larger than females.
There are numerous types of finches, but the zebra variety is by far the best finch species for beginners. Finches are social birds who need to be kept in a pair or group of finches. However, they're not fans of people. You won't be able to hold or cuddle your zebra finch, but that doesn't mean they're boring birds. Talk to your cute little pet and keep their enclosure clean, and they'll reward you with chirpy songs.
- Size: Very small
- Lifespan: 9 years
- Personality: Cheerful, social with other finches, doesn't like to be handled.
- Cage size: Horizontal cage, minimum of 18 inches by 30 inches by 28 inches.
- Care level: Can be noisy, needs to be housed with other finches.
The monk parakeet is sometimes referred to as the Quaker parrot, but whatever name you choose, this bird is an excellent choice for beginners. The species is known for being friendly and even "clown-like" due to their goofy personality. They also become very attached to their owners and will need regular, daily attention. If you decide you'd like to own a monk parakeet, first make sure they are legal to own in your state of residence. These birds are deemed "pests" in some states because, if released, they can compete with native wildlife for resources.
- Size: Medium
- Lifespan: 20 years
- Personality: Outgoing, goofy, friendly, intelligent.
- Cage size: minimum of 24 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches.
- Care level: Forms strong bonds with their owners, needs daily interaction.
If you're looking for a beginner parrot, the Pionus parrot is an excellent choice. These birds have many of the great qualities found in other parrots - high intelligence, the ability to talk, a friendly disposition, and longer lifespan - but they aren't nearly as demanding as most other species. The Pionus is a great family parrot because they are gentle and quiet. However, as with all pet parrots, they need daily interaction and enrichment.
- Size: Medium
- Lifespan: 30 years
- Personality: Gentle, trainable, easy going.
- Cage size: Vertical cage, minimum of 24 inches by 24 inches by 36 inches.
- Care level: Less needy than most other parrot species, does require some grooming like baths and nail trims.
Pinous is a genus, so there are several different species to choose from. Many have unique color patterns, and the Maximillian, blue-headed, and white capped Pionus are the most common.
What Makes a Bird Ideal for First-time Owners?
There are several qualities these six species possess that make them good choices for owners without much bird experience.
- Personality: Friendly, docile birds are a good choice as starter birds. The exceptions are canaries and finches who do not like being handled, but are still great for beginners.
- Care Requirements: Low-maintenance birds are excellent for someone who hasn't owned a bird before. Birds that need minimal cleaning, grooming, or enrichment can make it easier to adjust to the unique care requirements of avian pets.
- Size: While larger birds have great appeal, smaller species are typically more manageable. They make a smaller mess and may not need as much exercise. A smaller lung capacity may also mean a quieter companion.
- Lifespan: An animal's life expectancy is something you should always consider before bringing a pet into your home. Pet birds, particularly larger birds like parrots, can live well into their 40s or 50s. These beginner birds have much shorter lifespans, though they're still a significant commitment.
- Trainability: Some bird species are simply easier to train than others. Intelligence comes into play here as well as obedience. For example, the cockatoo is known for being stubborn, so they're a better choice for experienced bird keepers.
Some pet birds are better suited to certain living situations than others. If you want a highly interactive beginner bird, choose a cockatiel or parakeet. If you don't have time to spend with your bird every day, go for a hands-off species, such as a canary or finch. Consider how much space and time you have to dedicate to your bird before getting a new pet.
Choosing a Good Beginner Bird
Knowledge is power, so read up on the birds you're interested in. Find out how trainable they are, how much space they need, their typical personality, and how long they will live. Whether you have a busy lifestyle or have plenty of time to spend with your new pet, one of these birds for beginners will be a great choice for you.