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Choosing a Pet Parrot – an overview of popular species

In recent years an ever increasing number of parrot species have been bred in captivity and made available to those of us who enjoy keeping these avian clowns. This wonderful turn of events has taken a good deal of pressure off wild parrot populations, but sometimes leaves the prospective parrot owner a bit bewildered when it comes to choosing a pet.

Choosing a species and an individual parrot is an important step, and is best undertaken after careful research and discussions with the specialists in our bird room. I will write detailed articles about the care of individual parrot species in the future. What I would like to do here is to give you a general idea of the personalities and needs of some popular species, to help in your initial planning.

Please bear in mind that individual parrots vary greatly in their personalities and reactions to different people and environments, and that they quite often break the “species mold”. Their past care – how and where they were kept and raised – and your own actions will also have a great influence on their suitability as pets.

Fischer’s Lovebird, Agapornis fischeri
The behavior of these spunky little fellows often belies the “love” part of their name. True, mated pairs are quite attentive to each other, but lovebirds in general are among the most fearless of birds and will not hesitate to take on adversaries many times their size.

Years ago I kept a flock of Fischer’s lovebirds along with a pair of grey duikers (small antelopes) in an exhibit the Bronx Zoo. The birds were the bane of the antelopes’ existence, and would only allow the much larger creatures to feed after the flock had eaten its fill. They would even crowd around the glass that separated them from the meerkat exhibit — screening at the normally bird-intimidating predators and just itching for a fight!

Adult lovebirds are almost impossible to tame, but when acquired as fledglings they make very responsive and intelligent pets. Although not known for their talking abilities, they make up for this with their clownish antics and sociability. Their small size (6 inches or so) renders them ideal choices for those with limited space.

Black-headed Caique, Pionites melanocechala
Although not as commonly available as some of the other birds on this list, this caique (correct pronunciation is “kah-ee-kay”, but you will often hear “cake”), is well worth searching for. Although somewhat less “dependent” upon company than other parents (often to the point of seeming “aloof”), this South American beauty often bonds closely with one person. They are fairly small (10 inches) and possess only moderate talking abilities. Colored green with a yellow and orange front and black head and beak, this bird is quite stunning to behold.

Spectacled Amazon, Amazona albifrons albifrons
Often overlooked because they are relatively common in the pet trade, spectacled Amazons have much to recommend them. They are, however, quite loud and given to an almost constant chattering, and this can be a bit much for some people. These tendencies, however, render them fairly good talkers and their outgoing personalities can be quite charming. Those that I have worked with have unfailingly become the center of attention, and were quite are undeterred by large groups and noisy surroundings. They reach about 11 inches in length, and so need a bit more room than the birds mentioned up to this point.

Yellow-naped Amazon, Amazona ocrocephala auropalliata
This Amazon is less brightly-colored than others of the group, but makes a wonderful pet for the right owner. I say “right owner” because they are quite large and active, and tend to defend themselves vigorously when threatened. That being said, yellow-napes are also extremely curious and engaging, and are among the most acrobatic and trainable of the Amazons. They reach 16 inches in length and are best acquired as hand- fed babies.


You can read more about important considerations in choosing a pet parrot at:http://www.windhovervet.com/choosing.htm

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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