Pets: 4 Great Starter Birds

Not good with tweets? Here are a few winged wonders that Kim Everett-Martin, co-owner of Toluca Lake’s Perfect Parrot, thinks you can make friends with.


Photograph courtesy Flickr/ TANAKA Juuyoh

Gauging emotional swings in a bird can be painful, depending on its beak strength. Luckily the kid-friendly whistler has a crest that signals its temper like a mood ring: Lightly sloped means passive, nearly vertical means startled, compressed against the head—better watch your fingers.


This breed can form a deeper bond than most people you’ve been involved with, as long as you buy one that was hand tamed as a baby. It’s not true that without a mate, it dies. While the lovebird is chummier when kept singly, a less attentive owner may want to get two.


A gregarious parrot from South America, the conure has some eardrum-piercing chops (the sun conure screeches like a power drill). Those who prize their hearing may prefer the green cheek, which is an ideal portable companion (see page 107). Again, make sure it’s hand tamed.


zebrafinchZebra Finch
This pretty little bird with an amusing nasal  song is for people with self-esteem. Frankly it’s not that into you. Outfit a roomy cage (needed for flying space) with a nest and nesting material and watch it chirp.



Images courtesy of (in order): (1) Flickr/wlodi, (2)Flickr/law-keven, (3) Flickr/bcymet, (4) Flickr/artbykaren65



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