Top 5 Birds That Make the Best Pets

If you are looking for an affectionate pet bird that is easy to tame and interact with, the following guide explores the 5 friendliest birds to bond with.

Aug 19, 2023By Lisa Szymanski
birds that make the best pets

Canaries, parakeets, and parrots are popular pet birds known for their friendliness and beautiful appearance. But if you’re looking for an affectionate feathered companion, it’s important to know which pet birds are sociable and easy to handle. The green-winged macaw is described as sweet and gentle, while cockatoos form bonds quickly and love interacting with their keepers. In this guide, we describe the top 5 birds that make the best pets by looking at some of the most affectionate and playful species.

1. Green-Winged Macaw

green winged macaw posing on a branch

Green-winged macaws are undeniably beautiful, and with a temperament to match, they make a tremendous pet bird. Described as easy to tame, green-winged macaws are likened to dogs for their affectionate and playful personalities. Commonly called the “red-and-green macaw,” they have high care requirements and do well with at least 2 hours of daily exercise outside of their cage. Green-winged macaws can reach a substantial size of more than 30 inches and need a spacious enclosure with toys and perches for enrichment. If you have the time to dedicate to training, exercising, and socializing your pet parrot, then this exotic bird can bring many years of joy.

2. Cockatiel

close up of yellow and gray cockatiel
A cockatiel with bright red cheeks.

The cockatiel is a much-loved pet bird across the world and for good reason. These sweet birds can act shy and skittish, but they are easy to tame with gentle handling. They tend to form strong bonds with their humans when raised from a young age, which you can reinforce by hand-feeding them. Cockatiels will take food from your mouth and will learn to fly onto your hand or shoulder when trained with a whistle and hand signals. These naturally curious birds thrive in enclosures with swings and toys, which keeps them busy while you’re away. Interact with them regularly, and you’ll soon have a happy feathered friend who loves to sing all day long.

3. Cockatoo

white cockatoo with yellow head feathers
A white-cockatoo-posing-on-a-branch.

If you’re searching for an intelligent bird that is vocal and entertaining, then the cockatoo will make an outstanding choice of pet. Cockatoos are comical, cuddly, and devoted to their humans. They can be taught to talk and dance, but they tend to demand attention and affection. If a cockatoo is not regularly handled or interacted with, it will suffer from stress. When they feel lonely, they develop destructive behaviors, from constant screeching to feather plucking. These lively birds are best kept in a large enclosure with plenty of toys for them to chew on, or they might resort to biting their cage. Cockatoos are large, social, and interactive birds, but they need a fair amount of attention to be happy.

4. Pionus Parrots

pionus parrot sitting on a tree branch
A beautiful blue-headed pionus parrot.

Not all birds are cuddly, but there are some, like the Pionus parrot, that love to relax quietly and spend time with you. The Pionus is an exotic-looking bird with a blue head and green body, reaching around 10 inches in size. They are not overly affectionate but have a delicate temperament and tend to bond with all members of the family. Pionus parrots will happily sit on your arm or shoulder without fuss, but they also enjoy their own space. They are not demanding birds and can spend hours on their own with chew toys to entertain themselves. As independent birds, they make a great choice for pet owners who want a bird with a sweet temperament that doesn’t require constant attention.

5. Silkie Chickens

splash silkie chicken hen and rooster
A silkie hen and rooster.

You may not think of a chicken as a pet, but silkies, with their fluffy heads and feathered feet, make unique companions. These small chickens are easy to handle and have distinct personalities that make them fun to interact with. They make wonderful pets for kids because of their docile nature, and children will delight in collecting eggs from their feathered friends. Silkies are bantam chickens that reach 10-14 inches, making them the perfect size for the backyard. They’re fondly called “lap chickens,” as they frequently jump onto your lap for a snuggle. To care for silkies, you’ll need a secure chicken coop and space for them to run and forage during the day. If you have wildlife such as raccoons or hawks in your area, add a wire mesh run to protect them from an attack.

Choosing a Pet Bird That’s Right for You

blue parrot sitting on the arm of a man
Learn about different pet birds to choose the one for you.

You can find birds in various colors and sizes, but finding the right bird depends on their temperament and behavior. If you want an affectionate pet that will form a lasting bond with you, then birds such as the green-winged macaw and cockatiel are best. Once you connect with these types of pet birds, you can preen, snuggle, and interact with them, provided they are gently handled. Each bird has a unique set of characteristics and needs, so take some time to learn about them. By considering our top 5 birds that make the best pets, you are sure to find a true feathered companion.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.