You're smitten with the idea of adding a bright-eyed, feathered friend to your home. So, what are the best birds for beginner ornithophiles, or lovers of birds?
We recommend opting for a small species. Did you know some types of large parrots live as long as humans and require cages as big as small bathrooms? Yes! That's a huge commitment for a beginning bird owner. So, start small. Plus, the pint-sized cuteness of a petite parrot or baby budgie can't be denied.
As you browse your local pet store or animal rescue groups, ask about these types of birds.
These little masters of song not only add joyful music to your home, they're also adorable to watch groom, eat and hop from branch to branch. Male canaries are best housed solo. A pair (male and female) may be kept together.
Their small lime-like size means they aren't a bird for holding or cuddling, but are best for new bird owners who want a pretty bird to admire in a decorative cage for the next 20 to 25 years in the corner of a bedroom or living room.
Canaries come in classic yellow, but also shades of brown, white, green and light yellow.
It's no surprise this bird is nicknamed the 'clown bird' with their fluffy crest of feathers poking up like a mohawk on the top of the head and bright orange cheek feathers. Cockatiels come in solid and patterned varieties featuring yellows, whites, grays and light brown hues.
These small banana-size parrots are sociable, comical and enjoy being handled. They often ride on their owners' shoulders and scurry down arms to steal bites of snacks or get a closer look at what you're doing.
Cockatiels, which can live up to 25 years, pair best with owners who want hands-on playtime with their pets, such as adults or supervised teens. All birds are delicate and not ideal pets for toddlers or children who haven't learned how to handle things with a gentle touch.
A cockatiel likes a large cage -- think big suitcase size -- filled with toys, treats and perches to explore.
The gentle coo of a dove can soothe even the most hectic of households. These mellow tempered, muted in color (whites, tans, creams) starter pets can be held carefully for a few minutes, but don't love a lot of hands-on attention. They're not likely to bite, so they make a good first pet for children to admire.
These low-maintenance birds like to fluff up, sink down onto their favorite perch and nap! They also enjoy being talked to, spending time near a window on a bird stand and being offered nesting materials to build a cozy resting spot.
Doves range in size, but can get as plump as a small eggplant, so they need a larger cage and a companion dove to be truly happy in your home.
These tiny birds are smaller than canaries and like to chitter-chatter away the day with distinct calls and melodies.
Available in a rainbow of colors and varieties, finches are happiest housed in small flocks in a medium-size cage with several branches, a bamboo nest and multiple feeding/watering stations. Finch cages are often hung from the ceiling or displayed in the home's entryway as a conversation piece.
Finches are for admiring, not handling or playing, so they are best companions for seniors or families that want a touch of nature in their home. Finches have a short 5-year lifespan, a perfect starter bird for those wondering if feathered friends are best!
The pudgy, mango-size lovebird feathered with bold combinations of yellow, green, blue, orange and red is known for its smarts and silly antics. During playtime they might try to preen your long hair like a feather or snuggle into a shirt pocket. Lovebirds aren't great at vocalizing words, but are eager to learn tricks.
However, they can be a bit nippy, so are best for bird-loving adults to manage.
Lovebirds require a medium-size cage. An 18-inch cube or larger for a pair would be perfect! Despite their name, these birds are fine kept solo. However, if your lovebird is indeed in love with a mate at the pet store, bring them home together.
Also known as a budgie, these colorful palm-sized birds come in a rainbow of hues from blue and violet to yellow and green with accents of white and black.
They're simple birds to care for, with a 5 to 10-year lifespan, that adore morning chats with you and will sometimes learn words to mimic sometimes learn words to mimic, like a robust version of "Hello!" or "Good morning!".
It's best to let them enjoy playtime with bird toys on an activity center or the outside of their small to medium-size cage (with their wings clipped to avoid high-flying adventures) so they don't damage wallpaper or plants. Parakeets are chewers, and may nip.
The best pet birds are the ones you're curious about and have the time and space to care for properly. As you consider which type of bird is best for your household, ask friends and your veterinarian for their insight and recommendations too! Here's to finding the best feathered friend for you!
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Selecting a Pet Bird
Tampa Bay Animal Hospitals, Canaries
World Birds Joy of Nature, Cockatiel: The Ultimate Guide (2021)
Palomacy, Pigeons and Doves as Pets
Exotic Bird hospital Inc., Lovebirds Biological Facts
World Birds Joy of Nature, Parakeet: The Ultimate Guide (2021)