Unfortunately, when looking to buy a bird, a person doesn't always think about the LONG life they can live with the proper diet and enrichment. Some just think about a bird being disposable and not bright. Parakeets, for instance. A parakeet holds the record for the most words spoken; 1,728 words spoken by an American budgie named Puck is in the Guinness book of records. I like to think that our greys are articulate, but nothing like that. Smaller species of birds can live decades, so that is an important factor to keep in mind when making the decision you want to buy a bird.
When it comes down to a bird's intelligence, there is no way to measure it. They may not be vocal, but there are so many methods of communication that can be used. For instance, reading parrots. A friend of mine, Jen Cuhna, has taught her birds to read and make various choices (visit her website here). We had her as a guest on the From The Perch podcast, and I was able to ask her all sorts of questions. Her birds communicate and tell her what books they want her to read if they want treats, what kinds, and much more. She also holds up cue cards, which they can decipher or read and answer questions. It's very interesting, and I love anyone who thinks outside the box and sees beyond the research that has been done on parrot communication.
For some reason, humans seem so hyper-focused on the size factor they forget that these are sentient beings and capable of great things. Some of the best pet birds I have seen are budgies, parrotlets, cockatiels, and lovebirds. Just because they aren't big doesn't mean you are not going to get a heck of a pet. Also, on the bright side, you will get a little bird, who doesn't eat you out of house and home, and whose screams cannot be heard down the block. Who doesn't like explaining the crazy screeches from your house to your neighbors? And also, let's talk about cage maintenance. Smaller birds still make messes; however, it's not in the volume of the larger parrots. Let's not forget to mention the cost difference in bird toys. Smaller toys mean a much smaller cost. Some of the larger macaw toys can range anywhere from $35-$75 and can be shredded into toothpicks within minutes. So, be aware of the little birds when you're thinking about adding a pack of feathers to your home.
I remember wanting a larger parrot so much, especially after I read my first issue of Bird Talk Magazine. I had such high hopes and aspirations, but unfortunately, being raised in rural farm country, no one had ever heard of an African Grey nor cared what the heck I was talking about. Rightfully so, most of my peers had nothing but Tiger Beat and Teen Beat centerfolds on their walls. I had Alyssa Milano, Bird Talk, and a little Teen Beat thrown in for good measure. My goal was to get an African Grey, but I couldn't afford the price tag attached. My family thought birds would be a phase, so they were not willing to spend any more than the parakeet I owned, who sadly was killed by my brother's cat, and eventually Garbo, the cockatiel. Garbo was the best little guy; he was boisterous, as many male cockatiels are. He loved going anywhere I went, and he spent most of his life with the cage door open and watching tv with me. I still have a very large soft spot in my heart for cockatiels, and their dander Corn Flake(ish) smell reminds me of childhood.
The point I am getting at is, if you can't afford a larger bird, maybe live in an apartment, and you want to keep it that way, or want something a bit more cost-efficient or smaller, one of the smaller species will make an amazing companion for you. Remember that "big bangs come in little packages," and the same rings true for the little birds.
Copyright 2022 - Parrot Earth LLC - TM