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5 Best Parrots for Families with Children

November 20, 2008
Image by TailspinT (via Flickr)

Image by TailspinT (via Flickr)

Very broadly speaking, most parrots and most children just don’t mix. Children tend to be far more boisterous, loud and quick moving for the liking of parrots, who are after all still just wild, prey animals.

That said, parrots can be a delightful addition to a family, so if you’re considering adding a bird to your flock, consider which species would be more likely to fit into your family. Parrots live a long time. If everything goes right, they’ll still be part of the family long after the kids go off to college, so take your time researching which species is best given the activity level, noise, schedules etc. of your particular household.

All parrots require patience, understanding and stability (as well as not being screamed or poked at), but some are less ideal than others in terms of being around children. The first step for setting up your family, and any pets, for success is understanding that different species have different temperaments and not all birds will be equally good at adapting to little humans.

IMPORTANT:
If you’re visiting this page because you’re looking for
a Christmas present for your child, please read this first:
Giving Pets as Xmas Gifts

But without further ado, here are our recommendations for the 5 Best Parrots for Families:

5. The Humble Budgie (aka Budgerigar) Parakeet

Nibbler by Lodigs

Nibbler by Lodigs

The budgie (short for budgerigar, and often simply called “a parakeet” in the United States) is probably the most underrated bird in the parrot family. Few people even properly recognize them as parrots. At an average weight of around 30 grams, these hookbills are tiny, but don’t let their small size fool you.

Did you know that the bird with the world’s largest recorded vocabulary was but a wee budgie parakeet? Just like their larger cousins, budgerigars can be trained to do tricks, talk and generally be fun members of your family. (To see an adorable, talkative budgie in action check out Li’l Babi Versailles’s YouTube channel.)

Because of their tiny size, however, they are much more delicate than their larger parrot brothers and sisters, so all family members need to respect that grabby hands are a no-no. Budgies can be flighty and expect an untame parakeet to be nippy — but as single birds they are not that difficult too tame and no one will lose an eye in the process.

4. Meyer’s Parrots

Petey by bcymet

Petey by bcymet

Meyer’s Parrots belong to the Poicephalus family of African hookbills. They tend to be quieter than many other types of parrots, making them appropriate for apartment dwellers or those who can’t handle loud, incessant screeching.

They can be acrobatic, affectionate and entertaining. At the same time, their beaks are not huge and intimidating.

One website wrote about the Meyer’s species: The Meyer’s is reputed by many to be the nicest of this very nice-to-be-around family.” Calm and steady by nature, the Meyer’s is a good choice for a homes that include children. [They] are likely to maintain balanced relationships with a number of people. They are unlikely to bite. It’s been my observation that Meyer’s have a certain demure quality about them that gives them a fresh and unique charm. They are sweet, but not shy. And they tend to truly like people, even strangers. One famous breeder put it this way: “Senegals loved being loved by you, but Meyer’s love loving you.”

3. Pionus – Sweet, Gentle and Quiet

Blue Headed Pionus by GrayGeek2008

Blue Headed Pionus by GrayGeek2008

The pionus is one of the most underrated parrots today, probably because they don’t have bright, colorful plummage like some parrots, nor are they known for being good talkers.

That’s too bad because Pionus have fantastic personalities that make them great family pets. Not only are Pionus gentle, compared to many species of parrot, but they aren’t noisy or needy either. While all parrots need interaction and out-of-cage playtime, a Pionus is often happy to sit on top of his cage, just observing what’s going on, without demanding lots of attention.

Xafsmom likes the Blue-Headed and Bronze Winged Pionus and calls these two species “beyond a doubt two of the best family birds ever. Quiet, friendly, playful… not very cuddly but will sit and be pet for hours. They also form strong flock bonds over a single person bond.”

One thing you’ll need to be aware of when considering a Pionus Parrot is that they have a slight musky odor that some people don’t enjoy. In addition, because they don’t have a preening gland, they produce some dust/dander so spend time with these guys to make sure it doesn’t bother you. Personally, I love the way my White Capped Pionus smells.

If you want to know about of the Pi personality, check out the Life of Pis blog, where my Mika girl occasionally shares her own thoughts on life in the Best in Flock household.

2. The Sweet and Smart Cockatiel

Ziggy by I GEMZ

Ziggy by I GEMZ

Cockatiels are one of the most, if not the most, common pet parrot in the United States, although few people think of ‘tiels as parrots. ‘Tiels are smart, sweet and delightful, while being less hyper and spastic as some of the other small birds.

Katie, who shares her life with 8 delightful cockatiels says this about the species:

“They usually don’t have the same behavioral or hormonal issues that other birds can have. Their hormones are generally easy to manage as well. They like to be with you but aren’t generally really needy and are generally pretty quiet. They don’t need as large of a cage that bigger birds do and they are just perfect.”

‘Tiels are friendly, have cute voices, usually learn to whistle well, don’t tend to overbond to a single person (as a rule), aren’t as expensive as larger birds, and come in a variety of beautiful mutations.

Cockatiels are great birds for families who may not be experienced parrot owners, but they aren’t disposable birds. Just like “real” parrots, they live a long time and require attention, proper care and training and lots of love.

1. The VERY Best Parrot for Children…. Squawkers McCaw

Squawkers meets every (unreasonable) requirement for best parrot I’ve ever been asked about:

- He’s NOT LOUD and won’t aggravate you or the neighbors

- But he is GUARANTEED TO TALK up a storm

- He doesn’t poop all over the place or make a mess

- He NEVER BITES

- He doesn’t demand attention and doesn’t need a large cage

- He won’t go through a hormonal phase

- He’s CUDDLY, even more so than a cockatoo

- No vet bills, no expensive food, no toys = cheapest parrot ever!

And when your children get bored with Squawkers, they can ignore him without any consequence. He’s my #1 choice for a children’s parrot – a recommendation echoed by several members of BirdBoard.

Remember, pets are not toys. If you’re looking for “something colorful that talks”, get Hasbro FurReal Friends Squawkers McCaw Parrot.

But if you’re looking for a lifelong friend, a loved and loving addition to the family that will give back as much as you put into your relationship, the bird species listed above are excellent candidates for further research on your part.

26 comments

  1. I think the McCaw is the most ideal suggestion. No worries about noise. They can off it and keep it in the cabinets whenever the kids start to lose interest. Ultimately this can prevent another case of a homeless or rehomed parrot.


  2. Great list! Especially the Squawkers McCaw :)


  3. Great entry!

    Budgies and tiels have so much personality and it pains me that they are so often thought of as throwaway birds or maligned — even by people that should know better!

    Consequently, there are usually a ton of them in rescues and families can work with the rescue to find a bird for them. The rescue where I volunteer almost always has a few tame tiels that were surrendered after the family lost interest, and some of them just love to be around kids!


    • I agree! Poor adorable budgies. Why do peopple do the cruelest things. I say pet stores should treat their budgies more fairly and people shouldn’t throw away budgies! Same goes for tiels! :(


  4. Great entry!


  5. I have had my cockatiel for about 8 years, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to give theirs away. Especially if they are tame. they have all the best traits of larger birds without the problems. They’re cuddly like a cockatoo, without developing the problems some cockatoos can have when they don’t get consistency. They are playful, and some can talk, like a macaw. You don’t have to worry about losing a finger while taming one, however, and I’ve heard owners say that even some of their breeding cockatiels are friendly. Even the most anti bird person couldn’t deny their charm after seeing a cockatiel dance and whistle excitedly when their owner lets them out of their cage.


  6. That’s my Nibbler up there, and while he’s an excellent pet, he’s far too vain to be considered humble.


    • he’s gorgous you should be proud. xxxxx


  7. Great list and this is coming from a parrot! I love my mom and I don’t recommend amazons for kids! While I am sweet and cuddly my friend Bozo is an amazon who hates kids. My friend- an African grey is a fun bird, but they require a lot of responsibility and time. SQUAWKERS is a perfect pet for kids!!!


  8. Its a shame you left off linnies, they are great little birds for families…


  9. Parrots need and deserve alot of attention,good food, and even vet care at times. By no means are they a cheep or easy pet to have. If you don’t have the time it takes to care for them properly do yourself and more importantly them, a favor, don’t buy one. There are bad rescues popping up all over the place because birds are being over bread and people don’t do the resurce to see what all is involved in bird care. Please do the resurch first, don’t listen to the people who are making the money on them. All birds can and will bite! That’s how they commuicate their feelings to us.


  10. We’ve recently lost our green-cheeked conure. I appreciate your list. Have you heard any negatives on parrotlets?


    • I’m so sorry to hear about your GCC? What happened?

      I don’t know a ton about parrotlets except that they (like many small birds) can have a bit of a Napoleon complex. They think they are much bigger than they are. In other words, lots of personality in a tiny little body! They seem like awesome little birds who work your way right into your heart.


  11. Great list! I myself am underage, and I admit that sometimes, yes, I do wish I could get a break from changing papers and cleaning cages. But it’s all worth it for Mango and Kiwi! :D Great list . . . especially Squawkers. ;)


  12. i have a gorgous quaker who i love her name is Lola and she is my friend for life. She talks alot and every nigh whilst i’m watching tv she sits on my chest and wraps herself up in my her then falls asleep. xxxxx


  13. I had a parrotlet. The only parrot I have ever owned. He was wonderful, and full of personality! He did bite HARD and made me bleed, on a regular basis. When we had our first baby, he was so sad. It breaks my heart, still (12 years later). He died a few months later of a tumor. It was devastating to me. I still think he had a broken heart too. I did meet another, whose owner had trained hers not to bite by flicking his beak gently if hers bit. That was the sweetest bird! What do you think about the flicking? Is this painful for the bird?


  14. just want to start having pair of budgeri and know to more about o parrots. Please give me suggestion to having pet as business in Pakistan.


  15. Hi everybody.I think that Squawkers McCaw will be perfect for my family.Anybody know where to purshase this parrot.


  16. I am looking for a cheap and quiet but friendly pionus because a few months ago i had to give away my green cheek conure :( but if i get a bird i will be so happy :)


  17. i love birds thnk i my mom will not mind havin a Squawkers McCaw around the house


  18. i mean my mom will not minde me havin a Squawkers McCaw


  19. Great to see the budgie getting some credit for the amazing little parrots that they are. I can’t stand the way they are seen as ‘just a budgie’ by some people!
    Great article :)

    Dan


  20. I am very confused by trips, I have one and she was the sweetest bird ever! But then she got out of her cage and flew away, she tryed to come back but dident, then I got another teil and he was the meanest thing ever! Now I am deciding on a squaker or parakeet, I want a bird that will love me as much as I love birds! Please leave suggestion, oh btw I am very gental! :-)


  21. By trips I ment cockateils


  22. Okay, I just found out that the McCaw was a toy


  23. Parrots not good with children? ive had my yellow -crowned since i was 4 years old, im now 28 years old, i agree they should not be given as pets, and need to be fully understood and loved. I found her choosing me when i was so young interesting, maybe being the youngest of three children i was the most innocent and least dangerous? or perhaps it was simply because she was put in my room. If you want a parrot that only bonds to one person and loves and protects them with all their parrot being, than i recommend an amazon, but be ready to put in around fifty years, they dont call them “will birds” for no reason, and Amazons need a flood of love,affection, entertainment, showers, and a good diet.

    PS: Get a cage that they can live on top of, leave the food inside so they can freely go in and out, this encourages exercise and give them more of a sense of freedom, based on how well you know your parrot, you can decide if you want to get a cage they can climb down from and roam free, if they chew, etc, than you have to be careful, a wire could kill them. I found that my amazon loves her cage, she has not been locked in it for over 20 years and has free reign. She stays on it and then will let me know when she wants to get off, just love your bird in the true sense of the word and they will love you back and be happy.



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