Merck Manual

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Popular Companion Birds

Popular Companion Birds

Popular Name of Bird

Origin

Varieties

Average Lifespan

Ownership Considerations

Amazon Parrots

Mexico, Central and South America

Most are green with various bright colors on the head.

40 to 50 years

Most are great talkers and singers and do so loudly. Medium to large birds. Can be temperamental and often bond closely to one person.

Brotogeris Parakeets

South America (feral colonies in Puerto Rico, Los Angeles)

Bee Bee, gray-cheeked, orange-winged, and other color varieties

15 to 20 years

Small and lively. Sometimes called “dwarf” parrots. Only some talk.

Budgerigars (Budgies)

Australia

Usually green in wild; many colors available in the pet trade.

5 to 10 years

Suitable for apartment living as not usually loud. Can learn to talk.

Caiques

South America

Black-headed, white-bellied (yellow-thighed)

20 to 30 years

Personalities vary. Active birds that actually “hop.” Some talk a little; most males whistle well.

Canaries

Canary Islands and Madeira

There are 3 main groups: colorbred (bred for their colors, including yellow), type (bred for their shape and feathering), and song (bred for the song patterns).

Up to 15 years

Males often have a lovely song, which is how they are distinguished from females. Territorial in temperament, canaries prefer to be housed singly or in mated pairs. Suitable for most apartments.

Cockatiels

Australia and South Pacific Islands

Have muted feather colors.

Up to 20 years

The rarer color mutations may be more fragile. Often have lively personalities. Relatively quiet compared with macaws or cockatoos, but are still vocal.

Cockatoos

Australia and South Pacific Islands

Most are predominantly white; the rose-breasted is gray and pink. Several rare species are available.

25 to 50 years

Some talk, and their speaking voices are quiet. Enjoy and may demand a lot of handling, cuddling and attention, which can add to hormonal behavioral problems. Very loud when they decide to scream. Not for inexperienced owners. The most prone to extensive chewing of wood, plastic, et cetera.

Small conures (Pyrrura species)

Mexico, Central and South America

Small in size, peach-fronted, maroon bellied, green cheeked

Up to 25 years

Often described as charming. Relatively quiet. Most are smaller than cockatiels.

Larger conures (Aratinga species)

Sun, Jenday, Nanday, gold-capped

Up to 30 years

Active, beautifully colored, small to medium in size. Temperaments vary. Voice is piercing when they scream. Not known for their talking ability.

Doves

America, Mexico, Europe

Relatives of the common pigeon. Many species available.

Up to 20 years

Considered beautiful and elegant. Less demonstrative than parrots, and quiet except for their cooing.

Eclectus Parrots

Indonesia, Pacific islands

Males are emerald green with patches of reds and yellows. Females are shades of deep red, often with a blue bib.

40 to 50 years

Ability to talk varies. Not as prone to screaming as cockatoos and macaws.

Finches (Fringillidae)

Africa, primarily

Many colors available

5 to 10 years

Usually kept as aviary birds; do not generally interact with humans. Not loud but “peep” over extended periods.

Grass parakeets

Australia

Bourkes, turquosines, scarlet-chested. Many species and colors available.

8 to 13 years

Small, quiet, usually not aggressive; tendency to be nervous. Generally do not talk.

African Grey Parrots

Africa

A medium-large bird. Gray feathers and red tail.

40 to 50 years

The most intelligent of the parrot species, and therefore have the most potential problems with behavior. Require a great deal of time and attention. Do not scream, but they do growl. Excellent mimics with the largest potential vocabularies, but do not like to talk in front of strangers.

Lories and Lorikeets

Australia and Pacific islands

Many species including Moluccan (red), multicolor, red and blue, and others

15 years

Intelligent, curious, fairly nervous temperament. Striking coloration. Require special diet, which creates increased mess.

Lovebirds

Africa

4 or 5 species commonly available. Peach-face, black-mask, blue-mask, and Fischer’s are popular.

Up to 20 years

Sweet voices, not usually loud. Can be temperamental during breeding season.

Macaws

Central and South America

Blue and gold (blue and yellow), scarlet, green-winged, military, and hyacinth are available.

50 to 60 years

Largest of the parrots. Can talk, but usually more limited vocabularies than Amazons or African Greys. Screaming voice is very loud, with potential to irritate neighbors! Require a lot of exercise and a lot of time and attention.

Mynas (Mynahs)

Southeast Asia and Indonesia

Feathers are usually dark though some species have yellow head feathers. The Bali Mynah is light in color.

12 or more years

Excellent talkers. Not demonstrably affectionate. Very messy stools.

Parrotlets

Mexico, Central and South America

Green and blue in color. Common species include Mexican and Pacific (Celestial).

Up to 20 years

Also known as “pocket parrots.” Relatively easily tamed when young. Small in size. Quiet for parrots.

Pionus parrots

South America

Blue-headed Maximilian’s, white-capped, Dusky, and bronze-winged.

25 to 30 years

Quieter than Amazons, to which they are closely related. Known for gentle dispositions. A medium-sized parrot.

Poicephalus parrots

Africa

Small to medium size. Senegal is most common. Others include Meyer’s, Jardine’s, and red‑bellied.

2 to 25 years

Engaging birds with distinctive colors, comparatively quiet voices. Very playful when young.

Pigeons

Europe and other areas

Relatives of the common pigeon living in cities.

Up to 20 years

Relatively quiet. Often kept in colonies. Some are raised and trained for racing.

Psitticula parakeets

India, Southeast Asia, Africa

Indian ring-necked (rose ringed-necked), moustached, plum-headed, Derbyan, Alexandrine

Up to 20 years

Very colorful. Medium in size. Can be very affectionate if given sufficient attention and care. Many are good, quiet talkers. Their screaming voice is piercing but they are less prone to excessive screaming than many other psittacines.

Quaker (monk) parakeets

South America (feral in many locations, including Florida and New York)

Usually green with gray face and chest, blue and yellow mutations available.

20 to 30 years

Banned in several states (California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Georgia) and considered a pest by farmers in many countries. Hand-reared birds can be very affectionate and decent talkers. Sometimes loud. Known for chewing.

Rosellas

Australia

Brilliantly colored parrots of the family Platycercus. Crimson, eastern, and western most common.

10 to 15 years

Tend to be nervous; require constant handling to remain tame. Often found in larger aviary settings.

Toucans and Toucanets

Central and South America

Toucanets are smaller versions of toucans.

10 to 25 years

Toucanets are more nervous. Must be acquired young to make good pets. Require soft food diet and can be extremely messy.