Parrots have been a favorite for so many people over the centuries – and it is not surprising, considering their bright feathers and spunky personalities are interesting enough to captivate many. However, for a first-time owner, you might wonder if you are making the right choice when owning a parrot friend; but the truth is that different parrot types will fit well in certain conditions.
As a first-time owner, you should know about the different species and keep the conditions of your home in mind in order to get the best feathered friends. There is a fact you should keep in mind though – there is nothing as a so-called ‘beginner parrot’ – every parrot out there will be challenging to handle, loud and messy, and owning one species alone will teach you how to handle its kind. It is similar to getting kids – you are never really prepared to handle kids unless you get one and learn as you go.
Even for the smaller species of parrots, they will still demand a lot from you in terms of their care and wellbeing. For instance, visits to the vet, cleaning their cages, buying food, treats and toys for them, and so on. in this article, we will see the species that are best for beginner owners to handle – at least relatively, compared to other species.
Factors to consider
Many of these factors will apply to other types of birds as well, so consider them too if you want to purchase another bird type alongside your parrot.
Hazards in your home
You might not think much about it, but there are numerous items that are considered as hazards to your winged friends. Items such as deodorizers, scented candles, cookware, as well as ceiling fans and cigarettes, will prove to be dangerous for the wellbeing of your friend.
Always remember that birds have very delicate respiratory systems, even the larger birds like cockatoos and macaws, so avoid keeping them if you happen to be a smoker or live with a smoker in your home. Even plants play a major role in the safety and health of your birds, believe it or not – some plants are considered harmful while others are fine.
Engagement with them and interactions
For parrots, they will need constant stimulation, regardless of their species; so caring for them is a very intensive process. This will help to curb the incidences of unhealthy behaviors such as destroying the cage, plucking out feathers (a major sign of unhappiness) or excessive noises. When you think about it, parrots are quite similar to kids – when you give them toys that keep them entertained for hours, the positivity of these things will go a long way to ensuring their proper development.
There is also the training of the bird to be kept in consideration, because this helps to make the bonds you have with the bird stronger. In fact, parrots are very loyal to their masters, and they always look forward to the one-on-one attention they get during these sessions, as well as the rewards they get afterwards. The more you spend time with your bird and training them, the easier they will be to handle in the long term.
It is also important to ensure that high standards of hygiene are always maintained. That means cleaning the cages and toys on a regular basis, washing your hands after handling the bird, and ensuring the bird is kept clean.
What forms of bonding do you want to do?
If you are thinking about getting a parrot for cuddling purposes, then you would rather not get one anyway – consider getting a dog or cat instead. Parrots are not good for cuddles, and the same is the case for other bird species – cuddling will trigger hormonal reactions in them, and the parrot then exhibits negative behavior or turns on you because they are frustrated.
This is particularly the case with certain species like cockatoos, which are infamous for their cuddles – so that alone makes them very difficult to own.
Whether you want talking birds
Not all birds will have a talking ability, although some species are better at this compared to others. In particular, African Greys are very famous for their ability to speak, although there are many African greys that will never say anything. If you want other parrots as well, you can get an Amazon, or a budgie (these are highly praised for their extensive vocabulary).
This might seem like a strange thing to consider, but there are numerous species of parrots that are actually known to live for very long – for instance, macaws and cockatoos have an average lifespan that exceeds 60 years. If you thought that is wild, the BBC reports that the longest living macaw is roughly 111 years old, as well as a cockatoo being documented alive at 80 years old.
Therefore, when getting a parrot, you need to consider this in mind, because your parrot will probably outlive you – ask questions such as what happens to it in case you pass on, and who will take care of it.
Quiet vs. Loud parrots
If you want your home to remain peaceful even when the parrot is there, then consider getting a smaller species instead of a larger one. However, remember that no parrot really stays quiet, regardless of what type it is, so if noises bother you, then avoid getting parrots entirely.
All birds can bite, although some are more prone to this behavior compared to others. The worst culprits are always the smaller parrots and birds, such as parrotlets and lovebirds, although the bigger ones like Amazons can be particularly devastating.
What are the best parrots for beginners?
There are about 400 parrot species in the world, and each of these have their unique traits that you must always keep in mind. That said, here are the five best species, and this is entirely base on the ease of care and their affordability.
These are considered as good starts because of their availability and small price tags. Because of this though, many consider them to be a throwaway bird; easy to replace, easy to buy, and easy to dispose. This unfortunately makes many people fail to recognize that the bird has a very good personality, and some of them even become very good with language, even though they talk in small voices.
You will usually get them in blue or green, although this has now expanded to other colors as well. The birds are also quite timid when you first get them, but they slowly warm up to you if they see you are patient and gentle with them, even sharing quite a close bond with their human masters. This also makes them a great fit for families, especially if you have gentle children.
Rivaling parakeets in popularity, the cockatiel is a very popular bird, and it is not surprising to see why. They are quite small, but very loving, and they love getting plenty of attention from their human friends.
They also come in a variety of colors, not just the grey type with orange patches – this is all thanks to the dedication of bird breeders. They also can become good with languages, although most of them will handle whistling tasks better than speaking ones. If you have kids, they can be a good fit as well – as long as the children understand that they need to handle them carefully.
Another sub-species of parakeets that are good to consider getting are the Quakers – they mostly come in a silver and green color combination, and they love to vocalize as well. as long as you start socializing with them when they are young and handle them properly and carefully, they will become very loving and quite attached to you.
Before getting them though, keep in mind that certain states actually made them illegal because they posed a threat to native agriculture. If you are unsure of whether it is fine to get them, check with your nearest fish and game authorities or your Department of Agriculture. If they are legal in your state, they are totally worth getting.
Parrotlets and poicephalus parrots
Poicephalus parrots, also known by their collective moniker of small African parrots, are quite the easy-going bunch of birds, making them quite good for someone starting out in the world of taking care of parrots.
The most common among them are Senegal’s, which are small birds with an underside in a yellow-orange color, green wings and back, and a gray head. There are other species in this group as well, which include brown heads, Meyer’s, capes, Jardine’s, and red belly birds. They all share something in common – they are well known for their small sizes (they are slightly bigger compared to cockatiels) and they have very affectionate personalities. In addition, their noise levels are also quite low, as they are also the best talkers.
It takes some time for them to trust you, but once they do – they will quickly bond with you. In fact, they really enjoy having their necks and heads scratched more than other parrots: they even beg for this form of affection, leaning over to you and tipping their heads for a good scratch.
However, do not allow the small size fool you though; these might be small, but they have quite the dynamite personalities. They are quite demanding, inquisitive, active and very loving, even developing the gift of speech the longer they stay with you.
These might be overlooked by many people because they are not as flashy as some of the other parrots. Even though they do not look as bright though, they will make up for this with their winning personalities.
They are also slightly larger in size compared to the poicephalus, although they still remain small enough to handle and keep. they will also have a quieter personality, as they are not as loud compared to other parrot species – many people consider them to be fantastic at picking up phrases and words, even though their talking abilities are not as good as other species.
In fact, the main word that is associated with them is ‘sweet’, and looking at their behavior, it actually fits. The best part about them is their plumage though; once you get to love one, their subtle beauty will captivate you, as their feathers have an iridescent quality.
This might be more expensive and slightly bigger compared to the other options on the list, but their appeal is too strong to not have them on the list. They also happen to be among the best talkers among parrot species (African greys are almost at par with them in terms of talking ability), especially the yellow-naped types. They also love to clown around, and are highly intelligent and beautiful, feeding off the attention they get from their human companions.
Take note that there are some Amazon species that are easier to live with compared to others. For instance, the red-lored, lilac-crowns, white-fronted, and blue-fronted ones are great choices. In addition, they are quieter, less demanding and easier to handle on a general perspective.
There is one problem about keeping Amazons though – they are too smart most of the time. If you neglect them, they will quickly develop negative behaviors, so make sure you give them plenty of structured socialization, plenty of exercise, and a fair share of toys and treats.
These are beautiful companions that also happen to be quite playful and active. In fact, the well-socialized and trained lovebirds can end up as your best friends for many years to come, as long as you do not neglect to take care of them.
They also love socializing with humans, and enjoy you carrying them around in your shirt collar or pocket. They are also not very loud, and are more than capable of picking up words and a few phrases as you raise them.
There are more than ten varieties of conures you can choose from, though the most popular seems to be the maroon-bellied or the green-cheeked types. This is because they are much quieter compared to the sun conure variety – in fact, conures are generally known for their ear-piercing screams and mimicked sounds, so make sure that you are okay with that before getting one.
How will I get the experience of taking care of these birds if I am a beginner?
Regardless of the type of bird you are thinking of getting, the best way to obtain some experience is volunteering with a bird rescue shelter or organization. In the long term, this will also be much cheaper for you if the idea of being a slave to a bird’s needs for more than a decade is not the most exciting idea.
Volunteering will also teach you a variety of skills that are important in taking care of these animals, aside from being a lot of fun. For instance, you will learn the basics of preparing parrot food, as well as restraining them when their hormones are playing havoc with their behavior. Above all, it will give you a chance to connect with other parrot owners and learn on parrots, as well as taking good care of them.
Why consider small and medium size birds?
It is well known that smaller birds are easier for a beginner to take care of compared to larger ones, and this is mainly due to their overall requirements. However, that does not mean you should underestimate smaller birds – they can be just as emotive, intelligent and sensitive as any large parrot.
Smaller parrots will have their own unique challenges, such as lovebirds that can easily bully you if they are not getting what they want. Smaller birds also tend to be quite territorial despite their small size, so if you have a child and they are not patient enough, they will not be a good fit.
If the idea of caring for a larger bird is intimidating to you, then get a smaller one. The good news is that we live in a time when information is easily accessible, so you can easily find out whether taking care of a parrot is a good idea for you. Remember that every parrot in existence is equal to other parrots, so they will still give you plenty of happiness as long as you are willing to keep up with them.
At the end of the day, the choice you make regarding your bird purchase is entirely up to you, and it will depend on what you want to achieve. If you are prepared for plenty of hospital visits, ear-splitting noise and major messes, then get yourself a bigger bird. If you want a smaller parrot that you can pet and bond with easily, get a smaller one. If you are not sure of what you should get, then prepare yourself through volunteering and learning all you can before purchasing one – you will need it, considering that these birds are a lifetime commitment.