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When you think of a parrot, you might picture a bird with brilliant red, orange, green and gold plumage, poised on a pirate’s shoulder, squawking out insults. This popular image, however, does not begin to encompass the stunning array of colors, sizes and personalities that parrots display. More than 350 species exist, including African grays, cockatiels, macaws and budgerigars.
Budgerigars, also known as budgies or parakeets, have quiet, pleasing voices. They average about seven inches in length and commonly live from five to eight years, although some may live as long as 10 to 12 years with proper care. The most popular pet bird in the United States, budgerigars come at an affordable price and are easy to tame and care for. They enjoy sharing their cages with other budgies, as well as exercising and socializing outside their cages with their human families.
Often considered to be a good starter parrot, cockatiels are usually happy, friendly birds that are generally adaptable and not upset by change. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and own, grow to about 12 inches in length and can live 15 to 20 years or longer. Their relatively small size means these birds are quieter than some of their larger parrot counterparts, but cockatiels still like to make noise.
Highly intelligent and sociable birds, macaws thrive on human interaction and commonly form a strong bond with their owners. With proper care, large macaws can live 40 or more years and generally grow to about three feet from head to tail. With a more expensive price tag, they need many toys to gnaw on and a lot of space to move around in. Macaws can make excellent lifelong companions, and these colorful birds can be taught to mimic words. They can be loud squawkers and often are very messy.
African grays possess superb mimicry skills that are unmatched in the parrot world. These highly intelligent, 10-to-14-inch birds need to stay mentally stimulated with companionship and plenty of toys, tricks and games. Otherwise, they can become bored. Also somewhat pricey if purchased, African grays are readily available for adoption. African grays require a lot of maintenance and can live for well over 40 years, so they are for the serious parrot owner, whom they will reward with a lifetime of loyalty.
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