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Choosing a Pet Parrot – An Overview of Popular Species, Part II

This article is the second in a series designed to help you in choosing a pet parrot by providing background information on popular species. Please see Part I for an explanation of the nature of the information covered here.

Peruvian Grey-cheeked Parakeet, Brotogeris pyrrhopterus
At a mere 6 inches in length, this bird is an excellent choice for those with limited space. Grey-cheeks have a trusting, amiable nature, even when obtained as adults, and are therefore also well-suited to those new to bird-keeping. These parakeets are not the most skilled of talkers, but can learn a few words and are, overall, ideal pets.

Blue-headed Pionus, Pionus menstruus
Beautifully clad in green and with a striking blue head, this medium sized (11 inches) Latin American parrot has moderate talking abilities but a great personality. I have kept several in busy pet stores and nature centers – without fail, they remained calm and even, I would venture to say, “amused”, by the goings on around them. The blue-head makes a fine pet for those who live in circumstances that might shake up other birds (noisy children, active dogs, etc.).

Sun Conure, Aratinga solstitialis Sun Conure
This bird’s brilliant green-streaked yellow plumage would cause most bird fanciers to ignore any bad traits it might have. Amazingly, however, this Central American beauty also makes an affectionate pet and a fair talker. It is far quieter than most conures, and a bit more “steady” in demeanor as well.

Noble Macaw, Ara nobilis
Macaws have much to recommend them – striking beauty, large size, intelligence – but their strong personalities and propensity to scream (often at dawn) should give one pause for thought. The noble macaw, one of the smallest species available (14 inches), is an excellent first choice for those new to this group of parrots. A bit more laid back than the larger macaws, nobles crave company and thus bond strongly with their owners, and talk reasonably well.
Blue-and-Gold Macaw, Ara ararauna Blue & Gold Macaw
This huge (32 inches), gorgeously marked fellow’s great intelligence and eagerness to play renders it among the most sought after of the macaws. They talk well, in a surprisingly deep voice, but are also given to loud screams and require a large cage and freedom to roam about. Those considering this or any large parrot should be well-versed in parrot care and handling, as an untamed macaw can inflict severe injuries with its massive beak.

Goffin’s Cockatoo, Cacatua goffini
One of the smalGoffin's Cockatoolest of the cockatoos (13 inches), this species shares the group’s overall intelligence and tendency to bond strongly with one person (and to become jealously possessive of that person). Goffins are good “beginner cockatoos”, as they easily trained and speak well, but they do require more space than other similarly sized parrots. Like all cockatoos, they shed a fine, white powder-down, which may disturb people with dust and related allergies.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita
These striking white birds are topped with crests of yellow feathers and have huge wingspans. Incredibly intelligent and good talkers, they are very expensive and in great demand. Sulpher-cresteds should, however, be kept only by those with a good deal of experience – their intelligence comes with a strong, determined personality, and is backed by a powerful beak. Like all cockatoos, they are a good deal more active than other parrots, and hence require both a huge cage and a room about which they can move freely on occasion. Cockatoos spend a good deal of time gnawing on anything within reach, and will demolish furniture, electric wires and such if not closely supervised when roaming about.


An article discussing additional factors that may influence species selection is posted at:http://www.realmacaw.com/pages/rightpet.html

One comment

  1. avatar
    Harrison's Bird Food

    Nice overview. I never knew that Sun Conures were quieter than other conures, mine is loud.

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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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