Congo African grey; Timneh African grey
- Subspecies:P.e. erithacus (Congo); P.e. timneh (Timneh)
- Native continent: Africa
- Probable lifespan: 45 to 60 years
- Personality: Highly intelligent, sensitive, great talking ability
- Housing: Minimum of a 24- by 24- by 28-inch cage
- Behavior issues: Needs attention and mental stimulation
- Medical issues: Prone to low blood calcium, may feather pick due to dietary deficiencies, stress or boredom
- Commonly kept: Blue-fronted Amazon; lilac-crowned Amazon; double-yellow-headed Amazon; yellow-naped Amazon; orange-winged Amazon; red-lored Amazon
- Species:A. aestiva (blue front); A. finschi (lilac); A. ochrocephala oratrix or A. oratrix oratrix (double yellowhead); A. auropalliata (yellow nape); A. amazonica (orange wing); A. autumnalis (red lore)
- Native Continent: Central and South America
- Probable lifespan: Around 50 plus
- Personality: Loud and vocal, Amazons have outgoing personalities and great talking ability
- Housing: minimum of a 20- by 20- by 29-inch cage. They can be territorial, so buy a cage where you access the food and water dishes from the outside.
- Behavior issues: Amazons can get pretty excited, which you can tell when they raise their head feathers, flare their tails and their eyes begin to pin. This wouldn’t be a good time to pick them up. Train your Amazons well or they’ll rule you.
- Medical issues: Big appetites, big tummies. Got to watch the diet with these birds. They can develop vitamin A and calcium deficiency. Work with your avian vet on getting your Amazon on a healthy and fun diet.
- Genus: Barnardius
- Species:B. barnardi (Mallee Ringneck Parrot); B zonarius (Port Lincoln Parrot)
- Native continent: Australia
- Probable life span: 18-year average, but can live much longer.
- Personality: Entertaining and lively, become quickly tame. Non-aggressive toward other birds except when breeding.
- Housing: A large parrot with a powerful beak. Needs a large, sturdy cage.
- Behavior issues: Friendly but not at all cuddly.
- Medical issues: Typically hardy birds. Beware of common things that afflict most parrots: Vitamin A deficiency, respiratory problems, etc.
- Genus: Neophema
- Native continent: Australia
- Probable life span: 10 to 15 years
- Personality: Sweet, gentle and calm.
- Housing: Minimum of 20 by 20 inches with ½-inch bar spacing
- Behavior issues: Need to interact with others to keep tame. Relatively quiet. Not known for talking.
- Medical issues: No problems over and above typical bird concerns.
Not as common as they once were as pets, nowadays you most likely will see the canary wing, followed by the grey cheek, cobalt wing and orange chin.
- Species:B. versicolorus chiriri (canary wing); B. pyrrhopterus (grey cheek); B. cyanoptera (cobalt wing); B. jugularis (orange chin)
- Native continent: Central and South America
- Probable life span: 30 years
- Personality: Can be quite the acrobat, very active. Agile climbers, they’ll climb up and down anyone holding them.
- Housing: Minimum 18 by 18 inches. Need lots of room because so active.
- Behavior issues: No extreme behavior issues.
- Medical issues: Vitamin A deficiency is common. Have an avian vet test for tuberculosis.
- Genus: Melopsittacus
- Native Continent: Australia
- Probable lifespan: 10 to 15 years
- Personality: From mild-mannered to quite outgoing. Although the volume level is low, can make lots of sounds, and makes a funny sound when excited. Can be talented talkers but there is no guarantee. Vocalize during sunrise and sunset, and vocalize more when there is more than one budgie.
- Housing: Medium cage with small bar spacing to prevent escape. Supply cage with vertical as well as horizontal bars for climbing.
- Behavior issues: Can become jealous and possessive.
- Medical issues: Vitamin A deficiency, scaly face, goiter, gout, obesity, lipomas.
- Unusual characteristics: Americans insist on calling the budgie “parakeet,” which is just a general name for a smaller parrot with a long tail. Bird aficionados call them by their proper name, budgerigar, or the nickname, budgie. There is only one genus and species of budgie, however, the budgie has been bred to a larger size. The “normal” sized budgie, which is the closest to the wild budgie in Australia, is called the American budgie in the U.S. The larger, bigger-headed budgie is called the English budgie.
- Species:S. serinus
- Native Continent: Canary Islands, Spain
- Probable life span: 7 to 15 years
- Personality: Loners. Takes work to get them socialized and hand-tamed.
- Housing: Territorial birds, should be housed alone. They are more adept at flying than climbing, therefore require the largest that you can afford and have space for with small bar spacing.
- Behavior issues: Very territorial.
- Medical issue: Sensitive respiratory systems. Trace gasses are very dangerous to them.
- Commonly kept: black-headed caique, white-bellied caique
- Genus: Pionites
- Species:P. melanocephala (black head); P. leucogaster (white belly)
- Subspecies:P. m. melanocephala; P. m. pallida (Berlepsch)
- Native continent: South America
- Probable life span: 25 to 40 years
- Personality: Known to bird enthusiasts as “the clown,” they are full of energy, affectionate and friendly, known to be good with children, and love to take baths. Because they are not good flyers, they mostly hop to wherever they want to go.
- Housing: A 24- by 24- by 32- inch cage, large enough for the bird to hang upside-down, and stocked with plenty of perches and toys.
- Behavior issues: Although they do not need constant interaction, they like attention and may scream for it at times.
- Medical issues: No major health issues affect caiques in general. They are typically good eaters that require lots of healthy food (pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked grains, etc.) to maintain their high energy levels.
- Genus: Nymphicus
- Native Continent: Australia, generally the interior
- Probable lifespan: 18 to 25 years
- Personality: Comical and engaging, they develop distinct personalities and strong bonds with their people. Enjoy lots of exercise and spray baths (although may have to get used to them). Tame cockatiels are ideal for first-time bird owners, responsible children and families.
- Housing: A 16- by 16- by 24-inch cage
- Behavior issues: Cockatiels are prone to night frights, in which they thrash about their cage. This can lead to injury, so place a night light near the cage.
- Medical issues: Can become obese if inactive. They have also been known to develop bacterial infections, yeast infections, fatty livers and inbred kidney disease.
Unusual characteristics: There is just one genus and one species of the cockatiel. However, cockatiels are now bred in many different colors and patterns, which are called “mutations.” The wild cockatiel is a mostly grey bird with a yellow crest. It is called a normal grey (grey is spelled with the English and Australian spelling). Two common mutations are the lutino (white and yellow) and the pied (white, yellow and gray). Cockatiels have crests that are raised and lowered depending on their emotions. They also hiss when they are scared, putting their wings out and heads down in a defensive position. They also sometimes hang upside down like a bat and flap their wings.
The cockatoo is defined as a parrot with a true moveable crest, and there is more than one genus, each with lots of species.
- Genus: Cacatua
- Species:C. moluccensis (Moluccan, or salmon crest); C. goffini (Goffin’s); C. alba (umbrella); C. galerita galerita (greater sulphur crest); C. sulphurea sulphurea (lesser sulphur crest)
- Subspecies:C. galerita triton (triton); C. pastinator sanguinea (bare eye)
- Species:E. roseicapillus (gallah, or rose breast)
- Native Continent: Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and Indonesia
- Probable Life span: 30 to 45 years (small); 60 to 80 years (large)
- Personality: Cockatoos enjoy a lot of human interaction. When their need for attention is met they are charming and affectionate birds, if not there can be problems. They are inquisitive, intelligent, highly vocal and active.
- Housing: A cage that is 24-inches deep by 36-inches wide for smaller cockatoos (such as Goffins’); 30-inches deep by 40-inches wide for larger cockatoos. The recommended height for both is 4 feet.
- Behavior issues: They may be extremely loud when calling. If proper boundaries are not set this behavior can get out of control. Neglected cockatoos, or those receiving diminished attention from their owners, can be extremely aggressive. Many cockatoos become unpredictable during sexual maturity.
- Medical issues: Susceptible to psittacine beak & feather disease (PBFD), a viral condition that attacks the immune system. Symptoms include clubbed, deformed, cracked, or broken feathers and/or beaks that grow quickly, develop fault lines and either break or rot. Have a vet test for PBFD presence prior to purchasing a cockatoo. Because some are prone to fatty tumors, do not overfeed them with seeds or other high-fat foods.
- Commonly kept: Sun conure, jenday conure, green-cheeked conure, maroon-bellied conure, blue-crowned conure, dusky-headed conure, peach-fronted conure, mitred conure, cherry-headed conure; nanday conure, Patagonian conure
- Genus:Aratinga, Pyrrhura, Nandayas, Cyanoliseus
- Species:Aratinga solstitialis (sun); A. jandaya (jenday); A.mitrata (mitred); A. erythrogenys (cherry head) A. weddelli (dusky head); A. acuticaudata acuticaudata (blue crown); A. aurea (peach front); Pyrrhura frontalis (maroon belly); P. molinae (green cheek); Nandayas nenday (nanday); Cyanoliseus patagonus (Patagonian)
- Native continent: South and Central America
- Probable lifespan: 18 to 25 years (small conures); 25 to 30 years (large conures)
- Personality: Outgoing, playful, and very active.
- Housing: Because of their high-energy levels, conures need spacious cages with plenty of room for toys. The minimum recommended cage size is 18 by 18 by 26 inches, larger conure species, such as Patagonian and mitred conures, need slightly larger cages. Many conures prefer to sleep in a bird cozy or bird tent.
- Behavior issues: Conures are known for having a high-shrill cream, which can send human ears ringing.
- Medical issues: Prone to most of the common psittacine diseases and ailments.
Unusual characteristics: Conures have a bare eye ring, which is generally white; their nostrils are always visible. Some conure species “hide” in their owners’ shirts, with their heads peeking out of the shirt collar. Some sway back and forth (dance) to music and rhythmic movements.
Same genus, same species, but there are several popular subspecies: Solomon Islands, red-sided, vosmaeri and the grand.
- Genus: Eclectus
- Species: roratus
- Subspecies: E. r. polychloros, E. r. aruensis and E.r. biaki (red-sided Eclectus), E. r. vosmaeri (vosmaeri), E. r. roratus (Grand), E. r. solomonensis (Solomon Islands)
- Native Continent: Australasia
- Probable life span: Up to 40 years.
- Personality: Intelligent and curious. Love to interact with owners. Great talkers. Basically quiet birds. Not always big cuddlers (but can be), although they like affection.
- Housing: At least 3 feet wide by 2 feet deep by 3 feet high
- Behavior issues: Don’t trim your Eclectus’ nails and wing feathers too short because this can make them clumsy. All Eclectus need mental stimulation in the form of toys and interaction.
- Medical issues: Feed Eclectus non-colored pellets only.
- Unusual characteristics: This parrot is sexually dimorphic, which means you can tell if it is male or female by its physical characteristics. The females are red and purple/blue and the males are green.
Quotes from Eclectus enthusiasts:
“A friend of mine has an Eclectus and introduced me to him. I liked many characteristics of the species, like the fact that they have hardly any dander and are relatively quiet, are easy to train and have good talking abilities. Also, they are gorgeous, and the fact that the species is sexually dimorphic was interesting too.”
–Barbara Sanderson, a glass artist and doggie day-care owner from Washington
“I was also hoping for eye-catching beauty, innate intelligence, an ongoing, friendly nature, maximum speaking ability with minimal screaming proclivities, and playfulness without rampant destructiveness. Everything I read pointed to the gorgeous Eclectus.”
–Jayne Meyers of California, who lives with a Solomon Island’s Eclectus male
- Commonly kept: Zebra finch, Gouldian finch, society finch, cordon-bleu, red-cheeked cordon-bleu
- Order: “Finch” is a general term to describe birds in the order Passeriformes, which belong to one of four separate families. The most commonly kept finches are from the family Estrildidae, which are species that are native to tropical areas of Africa, Asia and Australia.
- Species:Poephila guttata (zebra) Chloebia gouldiae (Gouldian); Lonchura domestica (society finch, also called Bengalese finch); Uraeginthus angolensis (cordon bleu); Uraeginthus bengalus (red-cheeked cordon bleu)
- Native continents: Australia, Indonesia, Madagascar, southern Asia
- Probable lifespan: 8 years
- Personality: These are social birds, especially the society finch, and they often sit closely together. They have a pleasant song, and most owners enjoy watching them interact with one another.
- Housing: Finches are usually kept in pairs in aviaries (must be compatible species), flights or large cages with appropriate bar spacing. Finches fly back and forth, so a wide cage is preferred to a tall cage. Multiple perches are a must.
- Behavior issues: Finches can be aggressive with one another, especially if housed in an aviary or cage with other finch species. Finches are also prone to panic attacks.
- Medical issues: Egg-binding, mites, overgrown toel nails and beaks, respiratory problems, constipation, overgrown or crossed bill
- Unusual characteristics: A hand-reared finch can be socialized to perch on a person’s finger or to fly to its owner. Some finch owners report that their finches can utter a word or two.
- Genus: Deroptyus
- Species:D. accipitrinus
- Subspecies:D. a. accipitrinus (buff crown); D. a. fuscifrons (Brazilian, rarer)
- Native continent: South America
- Probable lifespan: 30 to 40 years
- Personality: Some liken its personality to that of a caique – playful, intelligent and active. Hawk heads like to hang upside down and rock back and forth.
Housing: 24 by 24 by 32-inch cage minimum is recommended. They also need plenty of toys.
- Behavior issues: Can be noisy, aggressive and nervous. Because of their aggressiveness, they are recommended for experienced pet bird owners.
- Medical issues: No specific health concerns
- Unusual characteristics: Hawk heads have a unique, rounded crest at the back of the head, which encompasses the head’s circumference when raised (unlike a cockatoo’s crest, in which the crest is toward the center of the head). The crest rises when the bird is alarmed or excited.
- Commonly kept: Peach-faced lovebird; Fischer’s lovebird; masked lovebirds
- Species:A. roseicollis (peach face); A. fischeri (Fischer’s); A. personata (masked)
- Native continent: Africa
- Probable life span: 12 to 18 years
- Personality: Don’t let its small size fool you, these birds can be as feisty and headstrong as the big parrots. Love to play.
- Housing: Minimum of 18- by 18- by 18-inch cage (for one bird) with ½- to 5/8-inch bar spacing. A wider cage is better for these birds.
- Behavior issues: Can be territorial: about the cage, its favorite toy, bird, or person.
- Medical issues: Need lots of exercise and plenty of things to chew.
- Native Continent: Central America and northernmost South America
- Probable life span: 10 years
- Personality: Highly interactive with people and a terrific mimic, this bird is also good-natured and hardy. Able to get along with Bourke’s parakeets and Gouldian finches in an outdoor aviary. Can learn phrases and imitate sounds, easily learns basic commands such as “Up.” Said to have a large-parrot personality in a small package.
- Housing: Medium-sized cage with small, less than ½-inch bar spacing.
- Behavior issues: Can become territorial over its cage and if not well socialized will tend to nip. They are not very aggressive, however, and may back down when threatened by other birds. Do not keep around an aggressive species.
- Medical issues: No outstanding medical conditions. A steady diet of ripe fruit, low-cholesterol seeds (not sunflower) and minerals (cuttlebone is recommended), along with seed mix and some pellets will maintain good health.
- Unique characteristics: It is among the tiniest of parrots at 6 3/4 inches in length. An all-black or mostly-black central tail feather is present on the male. The female only has a small patch of black on this feather. Although called a parakeet, the lineolate has a short, wedge-shaped tail.
There are 53 species of lories. A small number of these are commonly kept as pets. Below are the most common pet lories.
- Species:fuscata (dusky)
- Species:T. haematodus (green nape), T. goldiei (Goldie, also less-commonly classified as Psitteuteles goldiei)
- Subspecies:T. h. moluccanus (Swainson’s, or blue mountain)
- Genus: Lorius
- Species: lory (black cap)
- Native Continent: Australia, and the Pacific islands to the north, as well as much of New Guinea
- Probable life span: 15 or more years
- Personality: Outgoing, gregarious, playful and mischievous. Many, like the black cap, learn to speak very well. Probably the most commonly kept are Goldie’s lory, a petite bird, that is charming and also able to talk. Next come the green napes and Swainsons’, both talkers and clowns.
- Housing: The recommended size of the cage is large (6 feet long by 5 feet wide) because lories are exceptionally active.
- Behavior issues: Lories can be extremely aggressive to other birds, including other lories, and often nip to get attention. Do not leave a lory unattended with other birds or animals.
- Medical issues: Candidiasis is a yeast infection common in lories and lorikeets due to the sweet sugary content of their food. Vitamin A in the diet is a good deterrent. They should not have a diet too high in protein, no more than 15 percent. Stay away from high-iron foods because lories are susceptible to hemochromatosis (iron storage disease). Watch out for kidney, liver, and gout problems.
- Unusual Characteristics: Lories have different dietary needs, they need nectar and pasteurized (not raw) honey. See an avian vet or lory breeder for diet recommendations. Because not all of the diet is solid, their droppings are not as solid. There is some mess involved, but because their droppings are water-soluble, there is no serious worry about staining.
There are a wide variety of macaws, generally referred to as large macaws (green wing, blue & gold, scarlet, military, hyacinth) and mini macaws (Hahn’s, noble, yellow collar, severe).
- Genus/species: Anodorhynchus hyancinthinus (hyacinth macaw); Ara ararauna (blue-and-gold macaw), militaris (military macaw), A. macao (scarlet macaw), A. chloroptera (green-winged macaw), A. severa (chestnut-fronted macaw/severe macaw), A. militaris (military macaw); P. maracana; (Illiger’s macaw), P. auricollis (yellow-collared macaw); Diopsittaca nobilis (Hahn’s macaw); D. n. cumanensis (noble macaw)
- Native Continent: South America
- Probable life span: 30 to 35 years (mini); 60 to 100-plus years
- Personality: Macaws need a nurturing environment, and don’t do as well when raised in isolation. They can be loving and caring, but if mistreated when raised, they can become headstrong and unhappy. Macaws are very curious about their surroundings.
- Housing: At least 3 by 2 ½ by 6 feet. Needs enough room for plenty of perches to destroy, toys to destroy, its wingspan and tail feathers.
- Behavior issues: Macaws react to their environment. A loving and nurturing environment creates a loving and nurturing bird. A neglectful environment can create a cold, disengaged and even aggressive macaw. Most macaws go through a playful phase where they enjoy being rough and reckless. Provide plenty of toys to play with and to chew (destroy).
- Medical issues: Macaws are sensitive to birds that have high dander like cockatoos and cockatiels. Susceptible to polyomavirus and papillomas, feather picking and proventicular dilatation disease (PDD). A lack of things for your macaw to chew on can cause it to develop an overgrown beak.
Of the seven species of parrotlets, only three are commonly kept as pets: the green rump, Pacific and spectacle.
- Genus: Forpus
- Species: F. passerinus (green-rumped parrotlets), F. coelestis (Pacific), F. conpicillatus (spectacled parrotlets)
- Native Continent: South America
- Probable lifespan: 15 to 20 years
- Personality: An active bird that bonds quickly. Outgoing and fearless. Capable of learning speech.
- Housing: Minimum 18- by 18-inch sized cage with ½-inch or less bar spacing.
Behavior issues: Need daily interaction. Can be territorial/aggressive to other birds and animals.
- Medical issues: Need a plentiful and healthy diet as are high-energy birds. Susceptible to a fungus called megabacteria, which is easily diagnosed and treatable.
Common species kept are blue-headed, Maximilian’s, white-capped and bronze-winged Pionus.
- Species:P. fuscus (dusky); P. chalcopterus (bronze wing); P. senilis [reference: Juniper and Parr] or P. seniloides [reference: Forshaw] (white crown or white cap); P. tumultuosus (plum crown); P. maximiliani (Maximilian’s); P. sordidus (coral bill); P. menstruus (blue head)
- Native continent: South America
- Probable life span: 30 to 35 years
- Personality: Tend to be more on the quieter side, but produce both soft and loud sounds. Can be fiercely loyal. Needs time to adapt to new environments. Can speak and mimic sounds around them.
- Behavior issues: Not known for extreme behavioral issues. Can be affected briefly by hormones, but hormonal behavior quickly passes.
- Medical issues: Known for sometimes having a weight problem. Make sure they are on a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and regular vet checks.
- Unusual characteristics: Makes a strange wheezing sound when stressed or sometimes when feel good. Also can make a purring sound when getting a head scratch. Gives off a musky odor, which is normal.
- Commonly kept: Senegal parrot, Meyer’s parrot, Jardine’s parrot, red-bellied parrot, brown-headed parrot
- Species:P. senegalus (Senegal); P. meyeri (Meyer’s); P. gulielmi (Jardine’s); P. refiventris (red belly); P. cryptoxanthus (brown head)
- Native continent: Africa
- Probable life span: 25 to 35 years
- Personality: Affectionate, gentle disposition, quiet voices, independent. Like to snuggle.
- Housing: A 20- by 20- by 28-inch cage with ¾-inch bar spacing is recommended.
Behavior issues: Poicephalus can be shy and some, especially Senegals, can be phobic.
- Medical issues: Brown-headed parrots may be prone to liver problems if fed a high-fat, high-protein diet. Jardine’s may be susceptible to over-grown beaks in a short period of time, and if left untreated, this can result in a crossed, “scissor-type” beak.
- Unusual characteristics: Some owners report that Poicephalus can have “split personalities,” where they will be bold, territorial or bossy one moment and fearful or shy a few seconds later.
Common Psittacula include the Indian ringneck, the African ringneck, the Alexandrine, the plum head and the moustached parakeet.
- Species:P. krameri krameri (African), P. k.manillensis (Indian), P. eupatria (Alexandrine), P. alexandri (moustached), P. cyanocephala (plum head)
- Native Continent: Africa, India and Asia
- Probable life span: 15 to 30 years
- Personality: A chatty and vocal group. Can develop fairly extensive vocabularies Can be affectionate and loyal to owners who give plenty of attention.
- Housing: Large cage because of their long tails, and the large size of the Alexandrine.
Behavior issues: Interact with others on a regular basis to keep tame. A Hardy chewer needs plenty of wood. Provide a nightlight.
- Native Continent: South America
- Probable life span: 30 years
- Personality: Social and fearless. Can learn to talk.
- Behavior issues: Can be territorial. Watch out for feather picking – give frequent baths/spray showers.
- Medical issues: Liver disease; watch diet and body weight.
- Unusual characteristics: Builds intricate nests. In the wild, creates a “condo” type nest that many Quakers live in.
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