Pet Parrots: The Basics
Difficulty level: low-medium
Indian Ring-Necked Parakeet
Difficulty level: Medium
Blue-Crowned Conure
Nanday Conure
Difficulty level: Medium-High
Black-Headed Caique
White-Bellied Caique
African Grey Parrot
Difficulty level: High
  • Two subspecies: the Timneh and Congo; almost no difference in the subspecies except for looks (Congos are lighter grey with brighter red tails than Timnehs), but Timnehs tend to be cheaper
  • Size: 12-13 inches long
  • Lifespan: 50-75 years
  • Extremely good talkers with vocabularies of over 2,000 words; however, most don’t start talking until 18 months old
  • Minimum out-of-cage time is 2-4 hours, but the more the better
  • Likes to have a strict schedule; unexpected changes can cause stress
  • If not exposed to many new things while young, they can be phobic
  • Minimum cage size is 3 x 2 x 4 feet; bar spacing is 1/2 an inch
  • Feather plucking is common if it isn’t stimulated well enough-make sure it gets enough out-of-cage time
  • Cost: Timneh-about $500 Congo-about $1000
  • Rotate toys often to keep stimulated
Difficulty level: High +
Galah/Rose-Breasted Cokatoo
  • Very playful
  • Native to Australia
  • Quiet compared to other cockatoos
  • Can talk a bit
  • Most common sickness is fatty tumors
  • If not exposed to many new things when very young, they can be phobic
  • Hate being left alone, like almost all cockatoos, and can develop bad behaviors when they're left alone if not propery trained (i.e. screaming, etc.)
  • Minimum out-of-cage time is 4 hours, but more is always better
  • Rotate toys often to keep stimulated
  • About 14 inches long
  • Cost: about $1000
Bare-Eyed Cockatoo/Short-Billed Corella
  • About 14-16 inches long
  • Minimum out-of-cage time is 3 hours, but more is always better
  • Lifespan: about 50 years
  • Personality/enjoyed activities: goofy, clownish, loves to play, loves to cuddle, loves to bath
  • Most cockatoos (including bare-eyeds) are prone to weight gain
  • Compared to other cockatoos, very good talkers (they can learn a several words and phrases)
  • Cost: about $1000
  • Native to Australia
  • Minimum cage size: 2.5 x 3 x 3 feet
  • Very intelligent--known for picking cage locks and escaping
  • Rotate toys often to keep stimulated
  • Extremely noisy (like most other cockatoos)
  • Reaches maturity at 4 years old
Goffins Cockatoo
  • Minimum cage size: 2 x 3 feet, but bigger is always better; bar spacing is 3/4 of an inch
  • Extremely energetic and can cause a lot of damage very quickly; never leave unsupervised
  • Rotate toys often to keep stimulated
  • About 12-13 inches long
  • Lifespan: about 40 years
  • Very intelligent--escape artists and good at learning tricks
Ducorps Cockatoo
  • Very little information on keeping Ducorps Cockatoos; very rare in aviculture
  • Fairly quiet, but they have an annoying whine
  • Personality: sweet and calm
  • Native to the solomon islands
  • About 13 inches long
  • Lifespan: 50-60 years
  • Can be nervous and wary
  • Minimum cage size is 30 x 30 x 30 inches
  • Rotate toys often to keep stimulated
  • Males are slightly larger than females
  • Cost: $1800
  • Good talking ability
Dificulty level: High
Hahns Macaw/Hahns Mini-Macaw
  • Lifespan: 30+ years
  • 12-13 inches long (mini-macaw)
  • Smallest species of macaw
  • Personality/enjoyed activities: easy-going, very intelligent, loves to cuddle and play
  • Can have “cage dominance” (doesn’t like people near its cage and won’t leave cage), and can be nippy if not well socialized while young
  • Minimum out-of-cage time is 2 hours per day
  • Can have a very large vocabulary
  • Can be very loud
  • Cost: $500-$750
  • Easier to train than some larger macaws
  • Native to eastern South America
  • Minimum cage size is 20 x 20 x 24 inches, but bigger is always better
  • Rotate toys often to keep stimulated
Yellow-Collared Macaw
  • About 15 inches long (mini macaw)
  • Native to central South America
  • Lifespan: about 50 years
  • Very resourceful and intelligent--known as escape artists
  • Personality: very affectionate and love to play; some can be one-person birds, but most are not one-person
  • Minimum out-of-cage time is 2 hours
  • Good talkers--can learn several words and phrases
  • Weight: 250-280 grams
  • Reach maturity at 2-3 years old
  • Males are usually larger than females
  • Common diseases: macaw wasting disease, psitticosis, infections, pancreatitis, kidney disease
  • Recommended cage size: 2 x 3 x 2 feet
  • Price: about $700-950
Difficulty level: Medium-High
  • Lifespan: 30-50 years
  • Native to Australia, Solomon Islands, and New Guinea
  • Size: 17-20 inches long
  • Personality: friendly and relaxed--some people say males are more relaxed than females, but that females tend to deal with stress better
  • Sometimes jealous of other birds
  • Cage size: 30 x 20 x 36 inches
  • Price: about $900
  • Prone to fatty liver disease--should be kept on a low-fat diet
  • They have very long digestive tracts so they absorb more nutrients than other parrots and shouldn’t be fed a pellet diet
  • Excellent talkers
If you are interested in one of the species above, please read a ton more information, because these are very short overviews, and to get a real idea for what owning a parrot is like, you will need to do lots of research, talk to parrot owners, and handle the birds yourself. Parrots are extremely difficult to take care of, and if you are bitten while training one of the larger ones, you are likely to be sent to the E.R. Most people should not own parrots. Please do not get one if you arent CERTAIN you have enough time, money, and determination. Many parrots have the intelligence of a small child, and it breaks my heart when I learn they have been passed through shelters over and over because people thought they could handle one when they really couldnt. Do your research, and if you do have the qualifications, youll have a life-long companion and a wonderful pet. Talk to parrot owners, read all the information you can find (literally), and no matter what, dont get a parrot on impulse. Parrots are amazing, inspiring, comical, and enjoyable pets, but only if you have the time, money, and determination. Good luck!