Parrots can make good pets because they’re intelligent, entertaining, good company, full of personality, and have beautiful-colored feathers. However, parrots can also be high maintenance, socially demanding, messy, and nippy. That’s why you must choose a beginner-friendly parrot.
The best parrots for beginners are small, friendly, and easy to train. Budgerigars, cockatiels, parrotlets, and some conure species are easy to care for and enjoy handling. Senegal parrots, pionus parrots, quaker parrots, and white-fronted Amazons are docile with fun personalities. Lovebirds bond closely with their owners.
New owners should choose a parrot that fits their lifestyle. Amazon parrots will require more enrichment and social time. In contrast, budgies or cockatiels will thrive with only a few hours of playtime, as long as they can explore outside their cage. Lovebirds form the strongest bonds but do need extra training. A quaker parrot may be your ideal choice since it’s quiet, docile, and easy to care for.
What To Expect When Getting A Parrot
As the saying goes: You don’t own the parrot; the parrot owns you. Parrots are complex and emotional beings with needs that far surpass those of dogs or cats. Many experienced owners compare sharing a household with a parrot to living with an intelligent toddler. Not only are they great puzzle solvers and quick learners, but parrots also feel many of the same emotions that humans do.
No one should get a parrot without being prepared for that commitment. Are you ready for a long-lived parrot that will take up 8+ hours of your time each day? All parrots present different challenges, including:
- Emotional tantrums
- Territorial disputes
- Hormone aggression
In general, the larger a parrot is, the more expensive and challenging it is to keep, train, and handle. However, larger parrots can also pick up more words and tricks and show a broader range of emotions.
What Is A Good Parrot For A Beginner?
There is no such thing as an “easy” or “no-maintenance” pet parrot. Every breed will require a significant time commitment, regardless of how big or small they are. However, these species are known for being quick learners, more docile, and friendly to humans.
- Size: 6 to 8 inches tall
- Weight: ~1 ounce
- Lifespan: 5 to 8 years
- Cost: $10 to $35
These tiny parrots are known for their colorful plumage and large flocks. Tremendously social, they are very friendly and affectionate when handled and trained properly. Budgies are famous for learning quite an extensive vocabulary.
They deeply enjoy vocalizing and practicing with their owners. However, their voice can be a little gravelly. Due to their low price tag, many owners like to acquire multiple budgies at once. This is perfect for their social nature and habit of living in large groups. Two budgies will get along great, as long as they are:
- Two males
- A male and female
Two females may have more frequent conflicts. If you decide to acquire only one or are limited by space, you must dedicate more time. The budgie will depend entirely on you for socializing and playtime.
These birds are lively and noisy, so a happy, healthy budgie will constantly sing, chatter, chirp, and screech. A quiet budgie is a sick budgie, either physically or mentally.
Despite their small size, budgies can be quite demanding, to the extent of being bossy. They will try to dominate you or other birds that share their space. However, they are also very playful and enjoy the company of others.
- Size: 11 to 13 inches tall
- Weight: ~3 ounces
- Lifespan: 10 to 14 years
- Cost: $50 to $150
Cockatiels are loving, friendly, and outgoing. Females are usually gentler, as males get moody when they don’t receive the attention they want.
Very playful by nature, these medium-sized birds get along well with their owners. However, they may give you the cold shoulder for the first couple of days while they get used to their surroundings. They require a minimum of 2 hours of playtime outside of their cage daily. They should be given a large cage to feel comfortable, as well as an assortment of perches and toys.
While cockatiels are not very talkative by nature, preferring to whistle, they are extremely adept at learning and following commands. That’s good news for prospective owners, as teaching and playing together will be a blast.
An interesting feature of a cockatiel is its crest. Apart from being beautiful, it will help you understand the parrot’s mood. A flattened crest could mean it is stressed or scared. Meanwhile, a raised and spread-open crest may tell you the bird is interested, intrigued, or attentive.
Green Cheeked Conures
- Size: 9 to 11 inches tall
- Weight: ~2 to 2.5 ounces
- Lifespan: 10 to 25 years
- Cost: $150 to $350
This medium-sized parrot is a little more challenging to care for than budgies and cockatiels. Conures are ideal for those who would like a larger parrot without the constant stress that macaws and cockatoos bring. Green cheeked conures have gained popularity in recent years. This is due to their affectionate personalities and relatively quiet demeanors.
Conures quickly adapt to tricks and a few spoken words and enjoy playing with their owners. They work well in family homes, as they are not necessarily one-person birds. Multiple household members can enjoy quality time with these precious, delicate creatures.
Conures are not aggressive but are known to be moody. They will bite if not trained correctly. That makes it very important to be consistent and dedicated, especially when your parrot is young.
These parrots are known to be quite comical and active, performing acrobatics and jumps from perches. Much like cockatiels, they require a good amount of space to move around. They love shredder toys and spending time with you or near you. Green-cheeked conures love cuddling next to their owners. Be mindful of not squeezing them between sofa cushions or headboards.
- Size: ~9 inches tall
- Weight: 4 to 6 ounces
- Lifespan: 30 to 40 years in captivity
- Cost: $200 to $500
Senegal parrots enjoy being handled and played with. This makes them an ideal pet for anyone looking for one-on-one interaction. They are naturally shy parrots, so they tend to be one-person birds, unhappy with crowds or family members. With that said, Senegals make excellent life partners, as they can live for up to 50 years.
Despite their relatively small size, Senegal parrots need a large cage to move around. Make sure to invest in something escape-proof, as these birds can be quite clever. They are very sensitive to their surroundings, reacting negatively to sudden changes in decoration.
As for noise levels, apartment owners may be pleased to learn that Senegal parrots are among the quietest parrots. They don’t tend to screech or talk too much. Instead, they enjoy whistling now and then, so listening to you is a great way to bond with them. A Senegal parrot will be quite content to sit on your shoulder as you watch TV or read. When it’s playtime, they can be quite acrobatic.
- Size: ~4.5 inches tall
- Weight: ~1 ounce
- Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
- Cost: $120 to $350
These diminutive and sassy parrots have loads of personality. Parrotlets will charm anyone who gets to know them, and they’ll have to. That’s because they need 3 to 4 hours of attention and playtime with their owners daily to stay mentally fit. They are very active and, if trained properly, enjoy being handled throughout the day.
However, always pay attention to their cues and body language to ensure they are in a playing mood. Parrotlets are still known to bite if they get overwhelmed or stressed.
Although not all of them are big talkers, some learn to talk, picking up words and phrases here or there. Just don’t count on parrotlets being noisy parrots. They will chatter and chirp as all parrots do, but parrotlets aren’t guaranteed to talk.
This species makes for great companions. They will bond well with their owner if you keep only one bird. However, if you decide to get two, they will connect more strongly.
They do well with other birds, but it is recommended to keep them in separate cages. Parrotlets have what is called a “feisty” personality. They aren’t afraid to boss others around despite their small size (just like budgies).
Quaker Parrots (Monk Parrakeets)
- Size: ~11 inches tall
- Weight: 3.5 ounces
- Lifespan: 20 to 30 years
- Cost: $600 to $700
The first time you lay eyes on a monk parrot, you might be forgiven for assuming the bird is ill. But don’t let the constant head bobbing and shaking fool you. This peculiar behavior is completely natural and healthy in them. In fact, it’s so exclusive to quaker parrots that it plays into their name: they quake.
Apart from this shaky etiquette, monk parrots are par for the course as far as parrots go. They love vocalizing. Many of them sing or whistle, and they can even acquire an extensive vocabulary. These parrots are definitely on the louder side, so anyone looking for a peaceful and quiet pet should look elsewhere (but this applies to any parrot, really).
Originally hailing from South America, it’s vital to check the legal status of this parrot in your country or state. They are considered agricultural pests in some states due to their very rapid reproduction. That’s not to mention their predatory behavior towards other birds.
If you plan on getting a male and female, be aware that they typically lay between 5 to 12 eggs at a time. This will happen up to 6 times a year, with a hatch time of 24 days. If you want to breed them, quaker parrots are a great choice, but it can get overwhelming if you want to keep your population small.
- Size: 6 to 6.5 inches tall
- Weight: ~2 ounces
- Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
- Cost: Price can vary wildly, but expect around $200 or more
Most people assume lovebirds need to be kept in pairs. However, they do very well when kept as single birds. Despite their name, lovebirds can be quite nippy until tamed. Your first days with the parrot should be spent with diligent training to ensure they’re well-behaved and comfortable around you.
When kept in pairs, lovebirds “marry for life.” This means you will probably feel a little excluded. You won’t enjoy as much one-on-one time with them, if at all.
Like green cheeked conures, peach-faced lovebirds are quite active, with entertaining and comical personalities. They require more commitment and time than other parrots on this list.
Lovebirds are not that talkative, but you can expect plenty of chattering and whistling. That’s especially true during the morning when lovebirds are very loud. That makes the species better suited to houses with plenty of space, where neighbors may not hear or be upset by the noise levels.
Just keep in mind that lovebirds can be aggressive toward other pets. They should be kept in separate cages from any other birds you acquire down the line. That’s especially true with budgies, as confrontations are typical between these two. Cats and dogs should also be very closely monitored around lovebirds to avoid any regrettable incidents. These small birds are not afraid to pick a fight.
White-Fronted Amazon Parrots
- Size: 9.5 to 10 inches tall
- Weight: ~7.5 ounces
- Lifespan: 30 to 40 years
- Cost: $1000 (or more)
Amazon parrots are one of the most recognizable species worldwide, and there are many varieties. They are medium-sized parrots with high intelligence. They are great talkers, utterly adore singing, and screeching is one of their favorite past times. According to Developmental Psychobiology, Amazons also develop serious behavioral issues when not given the right amount of enrichment.
Because of their challenging nature, not all Amazons are recommended for beginners. That’s where white-fronted Amazons save the day. As the smallest of all Amazons, this species averages about 10 inches in height. These creatures are far gentler in nature since other Amazons are known to play rough, wrestling their owners with their beaks. White-fronted breeds are instead very friendly and fond of petting.
While they can still bite, white-fronted Amazons can be trained. Their smaller size lends itself well to handling from committed beginners, so long as you put in the time and effort. You’ll need to learn about the parrot’s needs, behavior, and body language. For example, Amazons sometimes go through “play overload,” where they get too excited and carried away when playing with you. If this happens, be sure not to scold the parrot. Instead, place it back in its cage for some cool downtime.
One advantage to Amazons is their clear and expressive body language. Pinning eyes, ruffled feathers, their stance, and vocalizations will communicate how they feel. White-fronted Amazons can be very loud, so beware if you live in an apartment with close neighbors. Like most Amazons, they learn many words and phrases and can mimic you or their surroundings. You don’t know uncanny until you hear an Amazon pretending to be an alarm clock.
These parrots can be quite costly, both to acquire and maintain. However, they make amazing life-long partners, with lifespans hovering around 40 years. It will be important to keep them eating a balanced and healthy diet, as all Amazons lean towards obesity. This is especially dangerous for birds.
- Size: ~11 inches tall
- Weight: 3.5 to 4.5 ounces
- Lifespan: 20 to 30 years
- Cost: $400 to $600 for an adult
Conures once again make the list, this time in the form of the brilliantly colorful and majestic sun conure. What sets these birds apart is their lively demeanor and affectionate behavior. They can be easily trained, which is helpful to control their somewhat bossy personalities.
Fun and cuddly, they are open to being handled by different members of your household, so long as it is treated well. They are not typically one-person birds.
Sun conures are particularly loud, so noise levels can be an issue in smaller apartments. They love nothing more than screaming when they’re having a good time. Their contact calls are ear-splittingly loud, but they’ll be customized to you. Conures are also talented at mimicking you and other household appliances.
These parrots need lots of open space, so be sure to invest in a large enough cage. Overall, 20 x 20 x 36 is the minimum. Sun conures are extremely curious and thrive on exploring their surroundings. That makes parrot-proofing your home crucial.
- Size: ~10 to 12 inches tall
- Weight: 8 to 9 ounces
- Lifespan: 20 to 25 years
- Cost: $1,000 average, but can get closer to $2,000 for differently colored variants
These little-known birds are not as popular as their flashier cousins. However, they vary drastically in color from one bird to another, so no two pionus parrots are the same. This lack of notoriety is exactly why many bird keepers like to raise them. Since there aren’t many pionus owners, these parrots have an elusive charm.
Physically, they resemble Amazon parrots, but they are much quieter and reserved. They are known to be somewhat aloof and standoffish, but they are still easy-going and not known for being aggressive. They can be handled by multiple family members, as they are not one-person birds.
However, children should always be supervised when handling a parrot. Those beaks can cause serious harm. When stressed or scared, pionus parrots will produce a hissing sound that serves as a warning.
Pionus parrots are not the most talkative birds. Their gravelly or raspy voices are not very clear, but they can learn many words and phrases. How quiet or loud your bird is will depend on its environment. Pionus parrots tend to adapt to loud noises in their surroundings by producing louder ones. If you’re looking for a pet parrot to join you in your quiet apartment life, you can’t go wrong with a pionus.
How Messy Are Parrots?
Although most beginner parrots are small, they still make a lot of mess. Parrots of all kinds are messy eaters, spilling and throwing their food all over the place. Expect to get bits of fruit, vegetables, and wet seeds or pellets on your walls, carpet, and hair.
Food will commonly get into water trays, which you’ll have to clean out at least once a day. Depending on how many parrots you own, the water may need to be changed several times a day. According to Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, parrots instinctively disperse seeds in the wild. As such, it’s natural for this trait to remain active even when in captivity. Parrots are not properly domesticated animals, after all.
Parrots molt. Molting is the process where new, healthy feathers replace old, worn-out feathers. Parrots tend to molt twice a year. Discarded feathers all over the cage and the rest of the house will be a common occurrence.
The good news is, some parrots can be potty trained. They can be taught to leave their droppings in a designated area, which takes only a few days. This will help keep down the mess naturally caused by owning parrots.
Least Nippy Parrot
All parrots will bite to some extent. Certain species are far less prone to nipping than others. With proper training, you can ensure any parrot feels comfortable around you and others, so it doesn’t have to resort to biting.
Pionus parrots are known for being gentle creatures. They will not bite or nip at your fingers unless thoroughly provoked. They do prefer to “do their own thing” most of the time.
As long as their space is respected and you bond with them, you don’t have to fear their beaks. Pionus parrots are also remarkably easy to train.
Budgies don’t have the strength to do real damage, mainly because of their beak size. With proper training, your parrot will rarely, if ever, bite.
Best Large Parrots For Beginners
Smaller parrots are recommended for beginners. That’s not because they’re no-maintenance birds but because they present fewer challenges and have shorter lifespans. While smaller parrots like budgies will live 5-8 years, medium or large-sized parrots can live well past 40 years.
With that said, quaker parrots are widely considered to be the best choice for newbies. They’re quick to learn and form strong bonds with their owners. They can be trained quite easily, as they are among the most intelligent parrots. It’s easy to compare them to 3 or 4-year-old children.
Once you’re ready to commit to owning a parrot, then any of these choices will be a great fit. Just be sure to check on its noise levels, size, and social needs.