Choosing a pet bird can be a tricky business. There are so many species and breeds! Three popular options -- lovebirds, budgies and cockatiels -- are all readily available from reputable, knowledgeable breeders. Each of these guys has a distinct personality, and each species has some undeniable quirks, too.
All three of these feathered beauties are on the small size, making for ideal shoulder-sitting companions. Cockatiels average about 9 to 14 inches long, budgies come in around 9 inches long and lovebirds reach about 5 inches tall. Don't let their small sizes fool you, though. All three of these birds need cages they can fly in, play in and spread their wings in without hitting them on toys, dishes or the sides!
All of these small parrots dine primarily on seeds, both in the wild and in captivity. Beware, though, because not all seed mixtures are as healthy as others! Seeds tend to be high in fat, and your feathered friend -- no matter which species -- will need a little variety to spice things up and keep him healthy. All three species need some veggies or fruits daily, and on occasion a special treat from the table such as the crust of your whole-wheat toast or some cooked whole-grain pasta.
Generally speaking, all three of these types of birds are highly entertaining to their human companion. They are playful and quirky, but each has some differences. Of the three, 'tiels are known to be more affectionate with their human, although all three types will graciously accept your love -- and return it -- when hand-trained and shown patience and affections. The cockatiel's personality has earned it the nickname "America's favorite bird." Of the three, the lovebird is the most demanding, commanding, independent, curious and mischievous. These guys all pack a powerful bite and aren't afraid to let you know they don't like something with a nip.
Male or Female?
When choosing between lovebirds, budgies and 'tiels, you'll also need to choose a sex. Male cockatiels seek attention and want to be in your face all the time. Females, on the other hand, are quieter and gentler. Female budgies tend to be a bit louder and more aggressive than their male counterparts. Male lovebirds tend to make better companion pets than females -- or, as some would say, are more clingy to their owners. Females can be just as tame, although they tend to be more independent.
Budgies and 'tiels, in general, do well in aviaries or in groups. Of course, all birds are different and they'll have distinct preferences on who they like and don't like. Lovebirds, on the other hand, are best kept singly if you want a little feathered companion. When kept in pairs, lovebirds tend to latch onto each other. Lovebirds are also fairly aggressive and have been known to kill cockatiels and other docile species when kept in multi-species aviaries. Budgies and cockatiels both live happily in mixed aviaries with other docile species when introductions are allowed to occur.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.