The cockatiel garnered 23 percent of the votes in our poll, making it the most popular bird. This bird was a favorite of both new bird owners and expert birdkeepers who couldn’t resist its allure.

Danielle Aamodt of Virginia, a first-time bird owner, voted for cockatiels because of the devotion her cockatiel, Angel, shows her. “She likes to give me kisses on the nose, she’ll whistle to me every time I pass the doorway of our dining room where her cage is, and she loves to play with my hair and tickle my ear,” she wrote.

Cockatiels are exceptionally loving pets, according to Cathy and Sandy Giancarlo. They have a lovebird, a budgie, a crimson rosella, a red lory, a rosy Bourke’s, Gouldian finches, and a canary in addition to a cockatiel. “Aladdin enjoys having her head stroked and prefers to remain with me the whole time she is out of her aviary,” Cathy said.

Another factor that influenced people to chose cockatiels as the finest bird is that they are a reasonably affordable and simple species to care for. “My cockatiel is not costly to care for since the cage is not enormous, his toys are little, and he does not damage them,” wrote Illinois resident Therese Heise of her cockatiel Mr. Beeker.

This advantage was also stated by Cathy Giancarlo. “Cockatiels consume so little that I wouldn’t consider them pricey to feed.” The only aspect of owning a cockatiel that I would consider costly is yearly veterinarian checkups. Cockatie care is simple, yet they value the time spent interacting with them on a regular basis.”

Billie Archer of Tennessee, happy owner of cockatiels Bonnie and Clyde, summed up cockatiel ownership in one sentence: “I don’t know how I lived before I had my birds.”

African Greys

African greys came in second place, with 20% of the vote. Readers cited grey’s intellect, sensitivity, and calm temperament as reasons why they are the preferred bird.

Ricky Lowrimore of Texas adores his African greyhound’s ability to be both loving and independent. “Irma may astonish me at times by answering my questions, but she can also be a baby who demands her way. But my favorite thing about her is because she knows when I’m upset and will come to me and snuggle.”

Another advantage of grey ownership is the bird’s size. “It’s not too big for a bird, but it’s a nice size to hold,” Beverly A. Remington of New York wrote.

Another consideration for prospective grey owners is the expense of the bird and its cage. However, this amount is not indicative of what the bird would eventually cost. “The initial investment on a bird and its supplies might be significant, but after that the expenditure is modest,” said Aditi Czarnomski of Minnesota, pleased owner of a grey called Jasmine. I spend more money every month on my puppy than I do on Jasmine. Toys may be expensive, as can high-quality pellets, but that comes with the territory.”


Budgies received 8% of the overall vote, ranking them third among the top ten birds. Fans of these birds praised them for their liveliness and friendly character, as well as the fact that they were simple to care for and cost considerably less than other birds.

On the practical side, several voters cited the species’ modest size and the perks that come with it as one of its main merits. “Their size is appropriate for almost any household.” “Their noise level is minimal, they don’t damage furniture, and their toys don’t get destroyed as quickly,” wrote Sue Dial of Michigan, owner of budgie Gina.

However, although owners may assume that their budgies take up relatively little room, their pets usually disagree. “Space needs are not too much: a spacious cage, ladder, and a play pen (although my budgie believes he owns the area and wanders over to dance in front of a full-length mirror,” Californian Ifsha Rahman, owner of budgie Junior, remarked.

Budgies are also popular due to their charm and ability to communicate. Dial describes them as “excellent talkers, friendly, and lively,” while Sarah Stern of Florida says, “Budgies are quite simple to care for and they make terrific company – they love to show off when they play.”


Cockatoos received 8% of the total votes. The umbrella cockatoo received the most votes in the cockatoo category, with 38% of the vote.

Umbrella cockatoo owners gushed about their bird’s pet traits. Sandra Wood’s remarks on her umbrella cockatoo are just a few instances of what owners like about their pets. “Joey is the sweetest bird I’ve ever seen.” She is kind, caring, and very clever. She speaks, but her vocabulary is limited. She understands three tricks (play catch, basketball, and roller skates), as well as vocal directions (go to sleep, be quiet, and go to your cage).”

Certain sexes of umbrella cockatoos were chosen by certain readers. Jennifer Bethke of Connecticut is one such reader, and she has an umbrella cockatoo called Charlie Girl and a Moluccan cockatoo named Squeakie. “I believe female umbrella cockatoos make excellent pets.” They’re cute, like to hug, and aren’t as loud or demanding as the other cockatoos (either that, or I get the choice of the clutch). They are neither so little that they will be lost, nor are they so enormous that they would need their own space. They are, in my view, the ideal bird.”

Umbrella cockatoos are among the largest birds, and owners confirmed that caring for their fair feathered companions comes with the territory. My cockatoos have the biggest Prevue-Hendrix cage designed to share, commented Bethke. They also have a plethora of DIY perches and T-stands. They are pricey – I believe they consume the majority of my food budget (except pellets), and they like trashing those expensive toys. They don’t take any longer than a tiny kid would.”


Conures garnered 7% of all votes cast. Green-cheeked conures were the most popular conure, receiving 25% of the vote.

“Green cheeks are fantastic, particularly for the first-time bird owner who wants a bit more involvement than a cockatiel normally allows.” Ninety-nine percent are kind by nature, typically silent (except for warning sounds), and can communicate in a few phrases. They are also very loyal. “They aren’t really filthy, and they don’t trash their toys,” wrote Rae Owen of Michigan, owner of Cheeky, a green cheek.

Another reader concurred, saying, “I believe the finest pet is my green cheek since she is the most friendly, lovable, charming, and intelligent bird ever.” You can teach her anything and she will quickly get it. She has learnt 12 tricks in the last two months, and each one takes less than 15 minutes to master. “She likes to cuddle under my bathrobe at night and follows me around the house,” said Dixie’s owner, Rose Adler of Massachusetts.

However, Dixie is more than simply a terrific companion; she is also an excellent watch bird. “She can let me know if anything is awry.” She called me many times while my kid was weeping in his room. I couldn’t hear anything, and she was running around like crazy trying to find him. She walked right up the stairs when I let her out of her cage and continued scratching and chirping at his door until I allowed her in. She is also an excellent security bird, alerting me to any intruders on my land. When my husband goes to work late or overnight in the cold, I’m worried about being alone with just myself and the kids. “However, Dixie makes me feel comfortable,” Adler said.

Green cheeks also take significantly less room than some of the bigger parrots. Furthermore, Owen said that her green cheek is not difficult to possess. “Cheeky hangs from the front of my shirt as I do chores and bathes in the bathroom sink while I get ready for work.” “I don’t think he’s costly to maintain since his greatest joy in life is hanging on his favorite person,” she said.


Macaws earned 6% of all votes cast. With 29 percent of the vote each, blue-and-gold macaws and Hahn’s macaws tied for the most popular macaws.

“By far the greatest pet is the Hahn’s macaw.” My bird is the kindest, wisest, and most loving. When we get home, he welcomes us. He waves goodbye. When we go, please be courteous. He even says hello to my terrier when he walks in via the pet door. He plays effectively on his own, is not too loud, and speaks clearly. Pam Ericson of Florida, owner of Hahn’s macaw Abbey, stated, “The Hahn’s is a wonderful treat and the love of my life.”

Gail Worth of BIRD TALK’s Ask The Experts column stated about Hahn’s macaw Globo: “This is a little species with a great personality!” Hahn’s macaws are exceedingly friendly and engaged with humans, and they are excellent mimics. This species is fairly resilient and has no specific diet, although they should be given a wide range of vegetables and grains. Their medium-small size makes it simple to adequately confine them, and they are normally not unduly loud. This species is often sociable with a big number of people and has the personality of a huge macaw in a little compact. They also like pulling apart paper plates and cardboard roll inserts from paper towels and are so readily and cheaply entertained.”

The blue-and-gold macaw owners on the opposite side of the fence enthused about their pets. “A blue-and-gold hen makes the ideal pet in my opinion.” Wonderful personality, great talker, incredibly clever, and really nice. Overall, a fantastic buddy – extremely committed and kind,” stated Dy Anna Robinson, owner of blue & gold Yettie, from Texas.

However, bigger macaws are more expensive and need more time to feed and clean. Robinson elaborated, writing, “Macaws require lovely huge cages, as big as you can afford.” If I’m going to spend money on a bird like this, I’m going to treat it fairly. I offer huge macaw cages with built-in (dump proof) cup holders, beautiful perches, and a variety of toys for each bird. It is more fun than labor once you have the bird, toys, food, and a system. Every day, I clean all of the cages and chop fresh fruit and veggies.”

North Carolina resident Shawn Snead, who like blue and gold Milo, concurred with Robinson. “She’s a little pricey to maintain since she rips her toys in no time.” I spend a lot of time with her, showering her every day and playing with her both indoors and outdoors. Her inquisitiveness knows no limitations, and she keeps us guessing. Yes, she consumes the majority of my time, but I believe she is well worth it.”


Poicephalus garnered 6% of the vote overall. With 57 percent of the votes in that category, Senegals were by far the most popular Poicephalus.

Senegals, according to Minnesota resident David P. Cole, who has a Senegal called Zoey, are the ideal bird since they are “generally not noisy; they make good apartment pets.” Because they are natural acrobats, they are simpler to teach to do “dumb pet tricks” than other bird species. Their antics are funny, and their personalities, whether timid or rowdy, may be extremely human. They will soon connect with their human owner.”

Senegals were especially popular due to their tiny size in comparison to many other species, making them easier to care for. Scott Fields of Senegal Chobi talked about how simple it is for him to care for his Senegal. “She doesn’t need much room – just a corner.” Cleaning, feeding, and watering her takes roughly 20 minutes. Because it is the nicest part of my day, the time she spends outside the cage with me is not considered taking my time.”


Amazons garnered 5% of the total votes cast, with yellow-naped Amazons receiving one-third of those votes. Because of their strong personalities and friendly natures, these independent birds were named best bird by their owners.

Sunny Updegrove of Ohio, who has two yellow napes named Jalapeno and Miss Rocco, commented, “We adore our yellow-naped Amazons because they have so much personality.” They also have excellent body language, which allows us to rapidly determine their emotions. We were amazed by how cuddly and loving they are, but we also like how feisty they are and how definite their demands and desires are.”

The gentler aspect of Amazons was also addressed. “My yellow nape Spanky is unique. He cuddles with you when you’re unhappy and constantly plays. He was born to communicate. He doesn’t leave much out. “We adore him, and he lets us know he loves us,” stated New Jersey resident Robin Kresel.


The endearing quaker received 4% of the vote. Their strong personalities and love of fun made them victors in the eyes of their adoring owners.

“My favorite is the quaker. He has so much personality that I have trouble seeing him as a bird. I like how he’s the tiniest bird yet the boss. Three of my ‘nonbird people’ friends have fallen in love with Shakey, my quaker, and now want to buy a quaker. He’s such a ham!” Jane Bravo of Illinois said

Quakers are the finest pets, according to Anne Lindgren of Virginia. “Definitely a quaker!” she said in answer to the question, “If you could only have one bird, whose species would it be?” They’re not too noisy, quite pleasant, and may be excellent talkers. I really believe they are the ideal parrot, and they now come in a variety of colors – how wonderful!”

According to their owners, Quakers are also reasonably simple to keep. “The quaker is lesser maintenance since he prefers cheap toys – paper towels, toilet paper rolls,” Bravo said. His favorite toys, though, are us. He is a total attention hog! He must be on us at all times and must be petted. Our whole home must revolve around him. If he’s dissatisfied, he’ll let us know.”

Lindgren further said that her quaker Jacob “is not a high maintenance bird, which is ideal for me since I am on a limited income.” It’s simple to care for him since he enjoys a variety diet and isn’t a destructive bird, so his toys last longer.”


Finally, Pionus parrots received 2% of the overall vote, with blue heads and Maximilians divided equally.

According to Taryn Bates of Washington, who has a Maximilian’s called Brio, the “Maximilian’s Pionus is a nearly ideal pet.” It has no idea how to yell or shriek. He is either silent or chatting much of the time. He quickly learns words, as well as their meanings and appropriate uses. He is neither tense nor irritable. Normally, he does not bite strangers. I have confidence in him. He enjoys attention, yet he is equally content to be alone.”

Furthermore, according to Bates, Maximilians are not difficult to keep or feed. “The biggest cage I’ve found for him is 19 by 24 by 33 inches.” It’s a decent size, with enough of space for his antics and toys, as well as his swing and perches. He is not costly to retain. He eats thawed frozen veggies and a regular parrot mix diet.”

The other half of the voters, on the other hand, praised the blue-headed Pionus.

“The blue-headed Pionus is a wonderful first-time pet parrot.” They are simple to care for, affectionate, lively, and have a calm demeanor. Blue head Aegis owner Silvia Schwarz of California stated, “They can make terrific apartment birds.”

Blue-headed Pionus are very easy to maintain. “Caring for a blue head is not costly, and they are simple to keep.” I prepare food and clean the cage for around 10 minutes every day. “The cage is dome-shaped and takes up little room,” noted Schwarz.

No Best Bird?

A lot of survey respondents did not vote for a top bird because they considered that ranking one bird as greatest was unrealistic. Many of them remarked that no one bird can be the perfect bird for everyone – a bird that is fantastic for one person is bad for another. “The greatest bird relies on several factors: past bird experience, how much time you have, money required to spend on their requirements, how much room you have in your house, and even your personality,” Florida resident Linda Grulke says.

Bonnie Kenk, director of the Parrot Education and Adoption Center in California, agreed with the responders who indicated that it is impossible to choose only one bird. “If you are interested in a specific species, you should study all you can about parrots in general and that species in particular before bringing the bird into your house to ensure that it will fit in with your lifestyle,” she said. Sidebar:

Medical Concerns

Another factor to examine is the kind of illnesses that each species is prone to. Although all birds may get illnesses, certain species are more prone to particular medical issues than others.


  • Giardiasis: A parasitic infection of the intestine. Painful feather plucking and the passage of entire seeds are symptoms.
  • Candidiasis: A yeast infection that is frequent in hand-fed chicks. Antifungal medication is a contemporary therapy option.
  • Chlamydiosis: In ill cockatiels, this disease should always be checked out. Conjunctivitis and sinusitis are the most common symptoms.
  • Chronic egg laying and egg binding: These are common complications that may lead to the bird’s death. Environmental modification, hormonal therapy, and hysterectomy are all options for treatment.

African greys:

  • Feather picking: This might result from physical, behavioral, or environmental issues.
  • Hypocalcemia syndrome: This is characterized by low blood calcium levels, which may cause seizures. The most often afflicted birds are those aged 2 to 5.
  • Aspergillosis: Many African species seem to have difficulty combating this fungal illness. Infections are more common in warm, damp conditions.


  • Neoplasia (cancer): Budgies are said to have the highest number of cancers of any domestic animal. Kidney, ovarian, testicular, and liver tumors are prevalent.
  • Scaly-face mites are frequent and may be treated with Ivermectin.


  • Blood parasite issues: These parasites may be linked to renal illness, and the majority of these birds are immunocompromised.
  • Self-mutilating cockatoos chew their bodies open, particularly the chest and legs. Curing this is really tough.

These are only a handful of the issues that these animals may face. To learn more about these and other disorders, speak with a trained avian veterinarian. [This medical information was collected from Dr. Sam Vaughn’s Ask The Vet articles on Bird Breeder On-Line in September, October, and November 1998. ( — Ed.]

When given the proper care, the birds listed above make excellent pets. When selecting your “best bird,” educate yourself before purchasing the bird. You are the only one who knows what is best for you and your possible feathery friend. Amy Taylor is the Bird Talk magazine’s assistant editor.

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