Pet bird choice for a child?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by PotterWatch, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

    Apr 22, 2008
    My youngest son (9.5 years old) has been asking for a pet bird for a while now. He has been talking specifically about pigeons but I'm not sure that is the best choice (he was partly looking at pigeons because we had said it needed to be an outdoor bird). I spoke with him a little more today and he said he would really like a bird that will like to be around him, perch on his arm, and maybe learn some sounds. To me, that sounds more like a parakeet would be a better choice. At first we didn't want an indoor bird but after talking with my husband more, we agreed we can make a space in the playroom for a bird. We would want our son to be mainly responsible for the care (with adult supervision of course).

    Does a parakeet sound like a good choice? What size/type of cage would be best? I know what they sell at the big pet stores but I also know they don't always offer what is really the best for the animal. Where should we look for a bird and what should we be looking for? What else should we know about caring for a pet bird?

    Thanks for any help and advice!

  2. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Songster

    Apr 15, 2011
    There are many options for child friendly pet birds. For smaller birds, the small chicken breeds seramas and sebrights can make good pets. Starlings make less aggressive pets than many parrots, do not need a permit to be kept, and learn how to mimic sounds. Many breeds of pigeons do make good indoor pets, but for a really tame pigeon, you often have to hand-raise, and that is probably more work than you really want. There are some exceptions though, with mookees, lahores, ringneck doves, and some of the pouters making popular pets even when bought as adults, and the mookees especially are more commonly seen as children's pets and enjoy being held more than many other breeds. Parakeets can make great pets, but my personal top pick would be the lineolated parakeets, as they have even tempers, softer voices, hang upside down, are very round and cute and come in many color choices, and snuggle up in sweaters and hoodies.

    Some birds, especially if kept singly, require a LOT of human interaction. Many have dietary needs that need to be met for a healthy bird. Some are more destructive (ie. chewing in many kinds of parrots), some are very messy, some are very loud. When you narrow down your choices, then I would look into specific care. [​IMG]

    PS. I always recommend that the child have a say too. Sometimes this isn't considered.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  3. BorderKelpie

    BorderKelpie Songster

    Mar 1, 2009
    outside Dallas
    If you're going to get a parakeet (or any bird, for that matter) cage size rule is: The bigger the better. Get the best quality cage in the largest size you can fit in your home.
    Parakeets are very active and deserve lots of room to play.

    As far as a hookbill bird as a hands-on pet for a young child, I guess a parakeet is ok. I worry though, since they are small birds and at times delicate. Also, they can deliver one heck of a nip if startled or hurt. Think bloody fingers or lips. Honestly, unless your son is extremely patient, tolerant and highly responsible, this will be your bird that he plays with. I am sure you understand that, though.

    I would like to offer my opinion as for a first time pet bird. I have found my ringneck doves to be extremly pleasant to live with. They can be extremly tame, I have never seen one bite anyone (although, I guess it's possible), the most I ever got out of any of mine was a wing slap and that was because he was defending his nest. They are lower maintainance than hookbills and they do make nice sounds. My males even make a cool laughing sound. They can easily be housed outdoors and even if in pairs and groups, can be handled if socialized to it. They are much easier to hand tame than other species of birds, imho. They come in some amazing colors and feather patterns as well.

    Either way, whatever you all choose, I do hope you enjoy your new bird for many, many years.

    I do love my birds. [​IMG]

    also, there are some members here that raise and sell some really nice looking doves. I'm thinking about 'shopping' around here for a female or two myself.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  4. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    As far as a parakeet goes, I would get a female Quaker or Green Cheek conure. Quakers can get aggressive at breeding age and some are bite-y or screamers, but I think it is more the males or those less socialized. They are a good size bird, get attached to their family if hand raised and interacted with daily by more than one person. They have a huge vocab if taught. Mine sings songs, says all kinds of stuff, makes animal sounds etc... We use to take him to the market and he would go to almost anyone. If he didn't, he would put his foot in his mouth and say "No Bite", meaning he was holding himself back from biting that person, LOL. Green Cheeks don't have the large vocab as Quakers, but mine were always sweet, loved to snuggle, enjoyed laying at the bottom of their cage on their backs playing with toys etc.... they were real clowns. Not too noisy either if I remember correctly. Mine always said "Hello Petey" in a very small raspy voice. And he loved to imitate the house security system buttons.
    But any parrot/parakeet species needs a Lot of attention and correct diet, or they start feather pulling and destructive behavior etc....

    In Pigeons I like the fancy breeds, English Trumpeters, Fantails, Frill backs, Capucians etc.... many fancy breeds can get very friendly, especially when handled from babies. Even the big King pigeons are nice.

    Other options are Serama's and Silkies, etc.... small breed chickens that can be kept in the house, in a bird cage like other birds.
  5. featherbaby

    featherbaby Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    Jacksonville, FL 32210
    I would recommend the ring neck dove as a nice fit for your bird beginner. I love hookbills and have cockatoos and eclectus and do not recommend them for a first bird for a child. The danger factor and emotional requirements are just too great. I raised doves years ago and they are the sweetest tempered, friendliest, non-threatening bird I've ever seen. They are still fragile as all birds are, but much less so than all the others . They will sit on your shoulder for hours, coo and trill interesting sounds, tolerate petting, and not go crazy if left alone in the cage for a few days. I would highly recommend a pair. The interaction is interesting and they are good company for each other. If they lay eggs and hatch a baby or two that would be educational too. Diet isn't too difficult. Do some computer research or better yet, have your son do the research and report back to you. Check out Craig's list for a cage, get a BIG one. They need to be able to fully open their wings without touching the bars. I got a huge cage on CL for about $50, so keep looking BEFORE you get the bird. If you need more info, pm me. I think the Ringneck Dove is your perfect choice.

  6. Sword

    Sword Songster

    Dec 27, 2010
    D'Uccle bantams! My 8 yo sister loves them. They don't mimic sounds, but other than that they fit your description perfectly.
  7. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Songster

    Apr 15, 2011
    My husband has a ringneck, and while she will tolerate handling and will eat from a hand, she is not a very active bird. You can encourage them to bathe and they make charming noises, but most of their time is spent perching. If you do get a ringneck dove, I would get a hand-raised bird from a breeder. They are among the most docile birds, and will sit quietly with you, but they tend not to be a cuddly or curious bird. Between the pigeons and the doves I've had, the pigeons are noticeably more curious and move about more. It sounds like your son will want a bird that will interact with him, and some pigeons breeds (ie. mookees) will probably meet that desire more than ringnecks. That is a generalization though, of course. If you get a hand-raised dove, you can expect tameness like this:

    But probably not interaction or action at the level most kids would be wanting. Pigeons tend to move around more, and I think you can kind of see the difference I'm talking about here:
    However, they are more likely to bite or wing slap, where as ringnecks will not bite and rarely wing slap.
    I think the bantam breed chickens would be appealing to many children, but again, I would find out what he wants once you look through all the options you can find that are suitable.

    Some information and videos of the lineolated parakeets, because they are still a lesser known keet, and quite different from the common budgies. Budgies are great little birds, but they do tend to bite more than these guys:

    Quakers Chickenzoo mentioned are another option to look into, but they can do more damage when they do bite than a lineolated. The silkie chickens they mentioned are another awesome bird to look into, and I can't believe I forgot to mention them.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  8. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

    Apr 22, 2008
    Thanks everyone! We will do some more research and hopefully find him a good pet. [​IMG]
  9. babylotzahenz

    babylotzahenz In the Brooder

    Dec 30, 2010
    WE have two cockatiels and just love them. They are extremely tame, ride on your shoulder everywhere and love to be scratched. They give kisses and talk to you in a bird voice. Not heard any mimics from them. The downfalls of them are: they are slightly messy, they make LOTs of DUST when they ruffle their feathers, more than most birds. They can get loud and demand a lot of attention. Ours do not chew at all, and eat a bird ration from the Pet store and love millet. One of ours was hand-raised, one was tamed at the pet store we got him from. Boys tend to be louder than females, they do Squak often, so noise is the biggest concern. We also once had a Sultan hen that made a great pet, a bantam, rode on my son's shoulder, was so gentle, couldn't see a thing except her own toes. Very vulnerable to predators, like the silkies. Get the bantam sized ones, they are really small.

    Good luck, we love our birds! You will too.

  10. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    I had to do the research myself when I wanted a pet, the pros and cons (what makes this a perfect pet for me, what makes it less then perfect) - one page double spaced, standard font and margins for each YEAR of life the animals was expected to live (using the average life expectancy).

    The report had to include what I intended to -do- with the pet if it was expected outlive my expected stay at home (college/work/apartment/whatever).
    Also the average vet bills, what vets in the area would see that type of animal, the phone numbers/address of the vets, feed cost per year, time 'cost' (per day in cleaning and socializing), if a pet-sitter would be required if we went on vacation, and what the fate of this animal would be at a shelter (if I got bored with it).

    This was before the internet (was for home use) so it was all done at the library. I also had to use MLA citation...

    I never did ask for a large parrot... (80 years [​IMG]) or some of the tortoises 120 years [​IMG].

    I learned how to do research in a library.
    How to site sources.
    How to get contact information form a vet including species seen at that practice.
    How to write persuasive essays.
    How to figure cost per year based on estimates for food consumption and current prices of food.
    How much work animals are.
    How to look to the future to guess what would be going on.
    What it takes to be responsible for an animal for its entire life...
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by