Parrots: The Complete Guide To Caring For Companion Parrots

Before we can answer your questions about companion parrots, we must first understand what kind of animals parrots are! Essentially, parrots are typically wild and colorful birds that live in warm environments such as rainforests, grasslands, savannas, semi-arid regions, and even islands.

Some species like the Kea parrot, which lives in the mountainous regions of New Zealand’s South Island, defy the trend and prefer colder climates. Parrots are actually wild creatures but owing to their intelligence, scientists and archaeologists believe that man began adopting parrots as companion birds, possibly around 400 BC!

A bird must have a bent beak that resembles a hook to be identified as a parrot. This is why they’re commonly also known as hookbills. Further, a bird should also have four feet on one foot to be a parrot. 2 toes of the four must be opposable toes, which allows the parrot to handle physical items with ease! 

Introduction to Companion Parrots

What exactly are companion parrots? Well, the term companion parrot does not really signify any particular breed of parrots. Rather, it talks about those parrots that are actual companions to their owners, as their pets.

Therefore, most breeds fall within the ambit of companion parrots.

Companion parrot

Given the fact that most breeds are amicable with human beings and are highly intelligent animals, they make for excellent pets as companion birds.

Large parrots, such as Eclectus, cockatoos, amazons, hawk-headed parrots, and macaws; mid-sized birds, such as caiques, conures, Quakers, Pionus, Poicephalus, rose-ringed parakeets, and rosellas; and small parrots, such as Brotogeris, budgies, cockatiels, parakeets, are some of the parrot breeds that make for wonderful companion birds!

Companion parrots range in size from small 5-inch lovebirds to huge macaws that can reach 40 inches in length from head to tail. Colors differ depending on the species.

Some parrots, such as lories, wear various colors, while others, such as Vasa parrots, wear only two or one hues. And, in certain species, such as the Eclectus, the male and female have radically different appearances.

This article is your comprehensive companion parrot handbook in which we have answered as many questions about having a companion parrot as possible. Continue reading this article to ensure that you look after your companion parrot well!

Best Parrots as Pets

The perfect parrot for you will be determined by how well your chosen bird fits with your lifestyle and environment. Parrots range in size from little enough to fit in a pocket to enormous enough to weigh more than two kilograms.

Now, the parrot you choose after taking your lifestyle and how well you can care for them into consideration will be the best companion parrot for you.

However, there are some breeds that are more suited to your environment and needs depending on your experience in owning a companion parrot. If you’re going to be owning a pet parrot for the first time, the budgerigar or cockatiel are obvious choices.

Smaller birds take less money to obtain and set up, so these are great if cost is a consideration. Any pet bird that isn’t trained to step up out of the cage and back into it will be an unsatisfactory pet.

A parrot is not the ideal pet for you if you don’t have time to engage with it and provide it out of the cage time.

Therefore, the perfect parrot for you is also determined by how much time you have to give to the bird and how much you’re prepared to learn about parrots in general, as well as the species you choose.

If, however, you have some experience handling and caring for companion parrots, parrot breeds such as the Macaw, Cockatoo, and African Grey Parrots are great options for you.

While these require a greater amount of care as companion birds, they are also more elegant and intelligent than other species, making them fantastic pets.

We have included a list of parrot species and breeds later in the article. However, we would advise you to refer to our blogs on specific parrot breeds to understand how you can take care of them and whether these birds are the perfect fit for you!

Guide to Companion Parrot Behavior

When you bring home a companion parrot, you can’t expect it to be your companion unless you understand your bird as it understands you.

In order to create an everlasting bond with your pet parrot, it is crucial to understand what behavioral traits you should observe and familiarize yourself with!

Parrots are a type of wild bird. Even hand-reared birds aren’t fully domesticated, so early and appropriate socializing with other birds and humans along with an effective training regime is crucial. It is not, however, required to hand-feed a bird to form a link with it.

In fact, buying a newborn chick that still needs to be handfed is strongly discouraged since, at that age, the chick needs its mother for proper biological care. Further, parrots are seen as prey in their natural environment.

Therefore, the species has evolved to be alert and wary of anything they perceive as threats. Making sudden movements around your parrot and getting aggressive with it are likely to traumatize your companion, and therefore, you must avoid such behavior around them.

Birds do not well understand the notion of master and subordinate. Instead, they approach the humans in their homes as they would approach parrots that were members of their own flock.

Birds will, however, try to establish dominance within the group. This is why owners must work hard to gain a reputation as flock leaders. Doing so makes it easier to develop a relationship with your parrots.

See also  Can Budgies Eat Lettuce? All You Need To Know

You should also remember that parrots are highly gregarious creatures and enjoy social interaction. Contact calls are used by parrots in the wild to communicate. As you initially get home, make a point of greeting your parrot and saying goodbye when you leave the room.

Respond to contact calls in a kind, straightforward manner. Parrots will occasionally chirp, and a short response from you, such as ‘Hey, what’s up?’ would be a great way to initiate communication with your companion.

The fact is parrots have a high level of emotional intelligence. This often results in them mirroring their companion human’s emotional state. Therefore, ensuring that you stay calm and regulate the energy, you portray with your parrot is crucial to their emotional well-being!

A cheat sheet to understanding the behavior of companion parrots is to simply treat it as you would treat a child – with patience and consistency. Your parrot’s attention will dwindle from time to time, and it will want to play and have fun.

As long as you understand your parrot’s behavioral cues, you can effectively deal with its needs and wants!

Species of Companion Parrots

While there are various species and breeds of companion parrots that you can consider bringing into your homes, we have shortlisted some of the best breeds that you can choose from, depending on your needs from your parrot and your experience in dealing with these birds!

Cockatiels

As mentioned earlier, cockatiels are one of the best companion parrots for you if you are a first-time parrot owner. Not only are cockatiels cheap, but they also are pretty easy to maintain. Moreover, this parrot species isn’t a noisy one, like its larger counterparts.

Two Beautiful Yellow Birds Sitting on the Tree Branch

You can also have a fair bit of fun with this species when you’ve trained them well. Being intelligent creatures, you won’t have a hard time training your cockatiel.

Your companion cockatiel will prefer to communicate using musical noises and whistles. They can, however, be taught to speak a few sentences.

Budgerigars

Budgies are adorable companion parrots and are another great option for you if you wish to bring home a companion parrot for the first time.

One of the foremost advantages of bringing home a budgerigar is that they are a popular companion parrot breed and, therefore, commonly found. Additionally, they are pretty cheap to buy and also low maintenance in the long run!

Unrecognizable woman with small budgerigars

Having said that, the most prominent disadvantage when it comes to bringing home a companion budgie is their short life. Seldom living beyond the age of 9 or 10 years of age, their loss can be quite heartbreaking, especially if they are companions to your younger children.

Cockatoos

Right off the bat, we don’t advise the cockatoo for you if you’re a first-time parrot owner. Cockatoos have greater needs than cockatiels and budgies.

Moreover, cockatoos, albeit majestic to look at, have deafening vocalizations that could be a source of irritation for you and your neighbors unless you can train them well. However, despite the loud vocalizations, cockatoos can actually speak a few words in lovely voices.

White Bird on Brown Tree Branch

If you have experience caring for a companion parrot and are looking for a bird that will be true to its purpose of being a companion, the cockatoo might just be the bird for you.

Cockatoos are fiercely loyal to their caregivers and adore them with all their heart, as long as they give them the time, affection, and attention they need and demand.

African Grey Parrots

African Grey Parrots make for great companions because socialization and proper amounts of attention are actually necessary for their mental health. Therefore, rest assured that your parrot will meet your emotional needs with love and companionship.

However, this is also a downside if you are a person who can’t spend a lot of time at home or with your parrot. If your lifestyle demands you to stay out of the house for long hours, this parrot breed is not one you should consider.

Selective Focus Photography Of African Grey Parrot Perched On Branch

African Grey Parrots are highly trainable and can also be taught to speak with you, more than you could expect from a cockatiel or a budgerigar.

Another advantage of having a companion African Grey Parrot is lifelong companionship. No, we aren’t exaggerating here. This species generally lives to be roughly 60 years of age!

Macaws

Macaws are magnificent birds. It also has some brownie points for being the type of parrot that extensively starred in Pirates of the Caribbean! You can choose from 17 different macaw species to be your companion parrot!

Macaw Bird

Macaws require significantly more area than other species due to their size. Macaws are popular among owners who want to let their birds fly free because they are easy to teach and don’t get eaten by predators. It makes sense to make it a pirate’s sidekick, doesn’t it?

If their surroundings are inadequate, they will feather pluck like greys, amazons, and cockatoos. The cost of these birds and the costs of providing proper housing puts them out of reach for most parrot aficionados.

Conures

Conures don’t need much space to live comfortably. Therefore, because so many people live in flats with limited space, conures are becoming increasingly popular.

There are several conure species to choose from, depending on your living circumstances and your aesthetic preferences.

A Beautiful Sun Parakeet Perched on a Branch

Sun conures are stunningly gorgeous in their yellow/orange hues, but they can also be rather raucous. The Pineapple Conure is a smaller, calmer version of the larger Pineapple Conure. Conures aren’t known for talking, but they’re excellent candidates for clicker training.

They are eager and able to pick up tricks, and trick training based on positive reinforcement principles is one of the most effective methods to connect with your bird.

A few other companion parrots that you can consider are as follow –

  • Parrotlets
  • Caiques
  • Parakeets
  • Lorikeets
  • Amazons
  • Eclectus

Before choosing a companion parrot to bring home, it is imperative that you research the needs of that species and figure out whether you can commit to taking good care of them.

Which is the Best Companion Parrot?

The best companion parrot is not something that anybody can write in black and white. The fact is that different species of parrots have different needs.

The best companion parrot, therefore, will depend on multiple factors. Keep reading to understand how you can choose the best companion parrot for you and your life!

Can you tolerate noise?

The fact is that some parrot species are incredibly noisy, and this can create an issue for you, especially if you live in small spaces or buildings that don’t appreciate disturbances. Therefore, you need to first ascertain a species that you can live with for a long time.

Bear in mind that the occasional whistle and melody also accompany their noisiness. You simply have to weigh the pros and cons of having a particular parrot when it comes to the sounds they make!

See also  Can Budgies Eat Carrot? All You Need To Know

Parrots can make a mess and damage furniture.

Albeit this situation usually occurs when the bird hasn’t been trained well enough, there is a high likelihood that your companion parrot will neglect some boundaries. Therefore, it is for you to choose whether that’s something you can live with.

Parrots are a long-term commitment.

Some types and breeds of parrots can live to be as old as 90 years of age. But, you can also find a few species that live for up to 10 years of age. Therefore, regardless of what species you bring home, you must be prepared to commit for the long term.

Parrots are empathetic creatures, and the act of abandoning them can result in serious behavioral issues and mental trauma.

Parrots need attention

Look at it this way – your companion will need you to be its companion too. Therefore, you will have to give your companion parrot attention, affection, and care for it to be mentally and physically healthy.

These factors will change depending on what species of parrots you choose to bring home. For example, African Grey Parrots will require considerably more attention and love from you than a cockatiel will.

Similarly, a cockatoo will be considerably louder than a macaw. Once you’ve done your research based on these pointers, you can finally choose the best companion parrot that will fit into your life.

How Can You Manage Stress in your Companion Parrot?

Our companion parrots are usually stressed when they live in captivity. Being a sensible parrot owner requires you to recognize this and make amends and attempts to ensure that your parrot stays as relaxed as possible.

Observe your Parrot

Spending two to three weeks studying your parrot as though you were filming his actions is a good activity. To put it another way, aim for objectivity. Get to know how he reacts when he’s surprised or terrified by studying his body language.

The bird will hold the feathers closely toward the body in many species, the neck may elongate, and he may appear “wide-eyed.”

African grey parrots frequently display anxiety by dancing from one leg to the other while biting the toenails of the elevated foot or by turning their heads in a figure-eight motion while appearing to look skyward.

Withdrawal from playful activities, reduced vocalizations in the day, and even reduction in food intake are all symptoms of generalized worry or stress. Extreme anxiety will manifest itself in actions such as feather destruction or phobias.

A comfortable, happy parrot, on the other hand, will vocalize regularly, eat voraciously, preen normally, and find methods to initiate social contact with us. Caregivers will observe Happiness-related behaviors as well.

Stretches involving the wing and leg on one side of the body, tail wags, wings raised in tandem as a greeting, and delicately fluffed head feathers and are just a few examples.

The owner must understand his parrot’s behavioral idiosyncrasies like the back of his hand and do everything possible to change the environment or conditions to be more comfortable.

Owners should also be able to anticipate difficulties and avoid any unfamiliar settings or objects that may cause the bird to become frightened.

Placing your Parrot’s cage

Orange Parakeet

Because pet birds spend most of their time in their cages, the proper location is critical. Your parrot’s cage should not be placed in a high-traffic area at any cost, but it should remain in the living room.

Cages should not be put in front of windows for most parrots. The outside world can often behave in a manner that is stressful to a domesticated bird that behaves as a prey species in the wild.

Therefore, if the cage is next to a window or sliding glass doorway, it should be moved to the left or right so that at least half of it is against a solid wall.

Training Your Parrot 

Training can be a welcome break from a stressful day not only to your parrot but also to you. To your parrot, a regular training session is a great way to exercise its intelligence and learn new tricks or words.

The most widely adopted method of training parrots is with the use of a clicker. Using a clicker, you can teach your companion parrot handy tricks such as reciting a catchphrase, fetching an item, or simply giving it movement drills!

You can also train your parrot to fly and return to your home with the right training regimen and patience.

Using Music as a Tool

One excellent way to help your parrot manage its stress levels is to help it associate music with relaxation. To do this, simply play some music when your parrot is in a relaxed state or is resting.

When you do this a few times, your parrot will be patterned to associate music with relaxation. When it gets stressed, you can simply put on this music and help it calm down.

Ensuring a Nutritious Diet

Eating a poor diet can lead to stress in your companion parrot, too, in the form of nutritional deficiencies of vital compounds and fatty acids.

You can ensure that your parrot eats well by including wholesome and nutritious natural foods (vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts, etc.) along with commercially available formulated foods.

By feeding it a well-balanced diet, you can tackle digestive issues that lead to physical and mental stress for your companion parrot.

Some Soothing Routines for Your Companion Parrot

Routines appeal to parrots because they tend to like being able to predict what will happen next. The issue of predictability is linked to their fundamental need to feel comfortable as prey animals.

Most things in the wild are predictable. Even the area’s land animals will follow a predictable, cyclic pattern, foraging and sleeping at specific times of the day. The only type of animals that can deviate from a given routine is predatorial animals.

Any strategy that creates predictability will be beneficial to a parrot that has learned to sense anxiety because of its innate comfort with routine.

Keep Your Parrot Safe from Predators

Coming in contact with or having confrontations with predators are extremely stressful events for your pet parrot. While larger parrot species don’t generally face this issue, smaller variants will react anxiously.

Therefore, creating a training routine that teaches your companion parrot to stay indoors or respond to clickers while roaming in an aviary is crucial to keeping them alive and stress-free.

The Importance of Good Nutrition

Without good nutrition, your companion parrot is likely to develop not only physical health issues but also mental and behavioral health issues such as chronic anxiety and heightened trauma responses.

See also  What Fruits Can Parakeets Eat? All You Need To Know

Therefore, there is no doubt that you should be making sure your companion parrot secures the optimal amount of nutrition from its daily diet.

Should you feed your companion parrot pellets and formulated diets?

While it is true that your companion parrots will source a healthy amount of nutrients from parrot pellets and formulated diets, they will miss out on some essentials that can only be found in natural foods.

The ideal way to feed your companion parrot is to feed it whole and natural food items alongside their staple parrot pellets and formulated diets. Moreover, introducing variety to your parrot’s diet will also help keep it interested in eating.

Feeding it plain formulated diets and other commercially available food will result in a lack of interest at mealtimes, and that’s something you want to avoid at all costs.

What is the best companion parrot food?

Your goal, as a companion to your parrot, must be to feed it a well-rounded diet of food items that the species feeds on, in its natural habitat, along with commercial food pellets and diets.

This will help ensure that your companion parrot secures every essential nutrient in its diet and stays healthy!

Foods to Avoid Feeding your Companion Parrot

Certain fruits like rhubarbs and avocados can be highly unhealthy for your companion parrot. Additionally, the pits and seeds of apples, cherries, plums, nectarines, and peaches, to name a few, should be avoided at all costs.

This is because the seeds of these fruits contain trace amounts of cyanide which can prove to be toxic for your parrot.

Further, certain veggies like tomatoes, onions, garlic, kale, cabbage, and mushrooms are extremely unhealthy for these majestic birds. Even caffeine in beverages and items like chocolate are complete off-bounds for your companion parrot.

Is Your Companion Parrot Empathetic?

All parrots, regardless of their species, have been known to show empathy to their human companions. Moreover, parrots also reflect how their caregiver feels. Therefore, if you feel anxious and reactive, your parrot is likely to feel the same way.

In short, yes, your parrot is empathetic to a certain extent. Naturally, this empathy varies with the parrot species and individuals.

Green and Yellow Parrot

For example, a cockatiel is likely to be less empathetic compared to an African grey parrot, but it is also possible that one African grey parrot is more empathetic than another.

Much like us, the way parrots feel and consequently show their feelings vary. However, it is an accepted fact that they are certainly creatures that can feel empathy as a matter of generality.

Should you Construct Sleep Cages and Allow your Parrot Specific Relaxation Periods?

The idea of setting up a sleep cage for your parrot is very similar to you having a specific room to sleep in, i.e., your bedroom, and having another room to eat or watch the television in. It is merely a way of helping your parrot associate that cage with relaxation.

Therefore, you can construct sleep cages. Be sure to place that cage close to your relaxation area, such as your living room or next to your rocking armchair.

As far as relaxation periods go, we’ve mentioned earlier that parrots love routine.

Therefore, having a dedicated relaxation period in the day where they can take a nap while you read a book and sip on your cappuccino is a great way to keep your companion parrot mentally satisfied and build a stronger foundation for the bond you share with it!

How to Deal with Broken Blood Feathers?

Parrots have a behavioral tendency to fall and, as a result of it, break their feathers. This also makes them bleed. Now, the first thing to remember when dealing with broken feathers and blood on your companion parrot is to stay calm.

Parrots, being highly intelligent and empathetic creatures, usually mirror their caregiver’s emotions. Therefore, your panic will result in heightened anxiety in your bird that is already anxious.

The best way to proceed in such a situation is to simply wait for the bleeding to stop. In the event that the bleeding doesn’t stop, either put pressure on the root of the broken feather to stop the bleeding or contact your veterinarian.

Maintaining a Companion Parrot

Parrots have the potential to be terrific, highly affectionate, and engaging pets in homes that care for them in the way they need to be cared for. But this does not mean that they not be considered low-maintenance pets.

Domesticated companion parrots need dedicated attention and care from their caregivers every day in order to be mentally and physically healthy.

Additionally, practices such as keeping the bird in a large cage and feeding it a wholesome diet consisting of fresh and organic veggies, fruits, nuts, grains, etc., play a vital role in keeping your parrot’s body functioning at its best!

Other factors like a healthy and consistent routine, a proper training regimen, and play and resting time also go a long way in keeping your pet happy!

Should You Buy or Adopt a Companion Parrot?

As a rule, you should always prefer adopting a pet, whether it is a companion parrot or a pet dog. The reason is fairly simple.

Many times, people abandon their pets when they realize that they can’t commit to caring for them. While this is extremely cruel to do, you can help that animal by giving it a forever home and your companionship.

Talking specifically about parrots, you can always find one to adopt. However, if you want a specific breed of parrots, you can opt to buy them. One thing that you must ensure before buying is that the breeder engages in ethical and healthy breeding practices.

Nonetheless, whether you choose to adopt or buy a parrot, you can rest assured knowing that you will find your ideal companion in it!

What is the Companion Parrot Price in the Market?

The price of a companion parrot can be as little as $200 or as high as $3500. The cost of the bird depends on what species it is.

Some parrot species such as conures and cockatiels can be bought at the lower end of the price spectrum, while more exotic species such as the macaws and African grey parrots will often be sold toward the higher end price spectrum.

FAQs

Which parrot is the most affectionate?

The African grey parrot is said to be one of the most affectionate parrot species.

Do parrots need a nesting box?

Yes, parrots need a nesting box in order to experience what their natural habitat feels like.

Which parrot is best for taming?

Macaws are quite easy to tame and train because of their high intelligence and ability to learn.

Do parrots need companions?

Yes, parrots need companionship either from their caregiver or another parrot!

Photo of author
Author
Gulshan
Hi, I am Gulshan, a pet blogger, and author. I've been working with the local pet groups for the past five years. I have been fascinated by our pets and am here to share that wonder with you.