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.
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
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
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
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
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.