Very broadly speaking, most parrots and most children just don’t mix. Children tend to be far more boisterous, loud and quick moving for the liking of parrots, who are after all still just wild, prey animals.
That said, parrots can be a delightful addition to a family, so if you’re considering adding a bird to your flock, consider which species would be more likely to fit into your family. Parrots live a long time. If everything goes right, they’ll still be part of the family long after the kids go off to college, so take your time researching which species is best given the activity level, noise, schedules etc. of your particular household.
All parrots require patience, understanding and stability (as well as not being screamed or poked at), but some are less ideal than others in terms of being around children. The first step for setting up your family, and any pets, for success is understanding that different species have different temperaments and not all birds will be equally good at adapting to little humans.
If you’re visiting this page because you’re looking for
a Christmas present for your child, please read this first:
Giving Pets as Xmas Gifts
But without further ado, here are our recommendations for the 5 Best Parrots for Families:
5. The Humble Budgie (aka Budgerigar) Parakeet
The budgie (short for budgerigar, and often simply called “a parakeet” in the United States) is probably the most underrated bird in the parrot family. Few people even properly recognize them as parrots. At an average weight of around 30 grams, these hookbills are tiny, but don’t let their small size fool you.
Did you know that the bird with the world’s largest recorded vocabulary was but a wee budgie parakeet? Just like their larger cousins, budgerigars can be trained to do tricks, talk and generally be fun members of your family. (To see an adorable, talkative budgie in action check out Li’l Babi Versailles’s YouTube channel.)
Because of their tiny size, however, they are much more delicate than their larger parrot brothers and sisters, so all family members need to respect that grabby hands are a no-no. Budgies can be flighty and expect an untame parakeet to be nippy — but as single birds they are not that difficult too tame and no one will lose an eye in the process.
4. Meyer’s Parrots
Meyer’s Parrots belong to the Poicephalus family of African hookbills. They tend to be quieter than many other types of parrots, making them appropriate for apartment dwellers or those who can’t handle loud, incessant screeching.
They can be acrobatic, affectionate and entertaining. At the same time, their beaks are not huge and intimidating.
One website wrote about the Meyer’s species: The Meyer’s is reputed by many to be the nicest of this very nice-to-be-around family.” Calm and steady by nature, the Meyer’s is a good choice for a homes that include children. [They] are likely to maintain balanced relationships with a number of people. They are unlikely to bite. It’s been my observation that Meyer’s have a certain demure quality about them that gives them a fresh and unique charm. They are sweet, but not shy. And they tend to truly like people, even strangers. One famous breeder put it this way: “Senegals loved being loved by you, but Meyer’s love loving you.”
3. Pionus – Sweet, Gentle and Quiet
The pionus is one of the most underrated parrots today, probably because they don’t have bright, colorful plummage like some parrots, nor are they known for being good talkers.
That’s too bad because Pionus have fantastic personalities that make them great family pets. Not only are Pionus gentle, compared to many species of parrot, but they aren’t noisy or needy either. While all parrots need interaction and out-of-cage playtime, a Pionus is often happy to sit on top of his cage, just observing what’s going on, without demanding lots of attention.
Xafsmom likes the Blue-Headed and Bronze Winged Pionus and calls these two species “beyond a doubt two of the best family birds ever. Quiet, friendly, playful… not very cuddly but will sit and be pet for hours. They also form strong flock bonds over a single person bond.”
One thing you’ll need to be aware of when considering a Pionus Parrot is that they have a slight musky odor that some people don’t enjoy. In addition, because they don’t have a preening gland, they produce some dust/dander so spend time with these guys to make sure it doesn’t bother you. Personally, I love the way my White Capped Pionus smells.
If you want to know about of the Pi personality, check out the Life of Pis blog, where my Mika girl occasionally shares her own thoughts on life in the Best in Flock household.
2. The Sweet and Smart Cockatiel
Cockatiels are one of the most, if not the most, common pet parrot in the United States, although few people think of ‘tiels as parrots. ‘Tiels are smart, sweet and delightful, while being less hyper and spastic as some of the other small birds.
Katie, who shares her life with 8 delightful cockatiels says this about the species:
“They usually don’t have the same behavioral or hormonal issues that other birds can have. Their hormones are generally easy to manage as well. They like to be with you but aren’t generally really needy and are generally pretty quiet. They don’t need as large of a cage that bigger birds do and they are just perfect.”
‘Tiels are friendly, have cute voices, usually learn to whistle well, don’t tend to overbond to a single person (as a rule), aren’t as expensive as larger birds, and come in a variety of beautiful mutations.
Cockatiels are great birds for families who may not be experienced parrot owners, but they aren’t disposable birds. Just like “real” parrots, they live a long time and require attention, proper care and training and lots of love.
1. The VERY Best Parrot for Children…. Squawkers McCaw
Squawkers meets every (unreasonable) requirement for best parrot I’ve ever been asked about:
– He’s NOT LOUD and won’t aggravate you or the neighbors
– But he is GUARANTEED TO TALK up a storm
– He doesn’t poop all over the place or make a mess
– He NEVER BITES
– He doesn’t demand attention and doesn’t need a large cage
– He won’t go through a hormonal phase
– He’s CUDDLY, even more so than a cockatoo
– No vet bills, no expensive food, no toys = cheapest parrot ever!
And when your children get bored with Squawkers, they can ignore him without any consequence. He’s my #1 choice for a children’s parrot – a recommendation echoed by several members of BirdBoard.
Remember, pets are not toys. If you’re looking for “something colorful that talks”, get Hasbro FurReal Friends Squawkers McCaw Parrot.
But if you’re looking for a lifelong friend, a loved and loving addition to the family that will give back as much as you put into your relationship, the bird species listed above are excellent candidates for further research on your part.
I think the McCaw is the most ideal suggestion. No worries about noise. They can off it and keep it in the cabinets whenever the kids start to lose interest. Ultimately this can prevent another case of a homeless or rehomed parrot.
Great list! Especially the Squawkers McCaw 🙂
Budgies and tiels have so much personality and it pains me that they are so often thought of as throwaway birds or maligned — even by people that should know better!
Consequently, there are usually a ton of them in rescues and families can work with the rescue to find a bird for them. The rescue where I volunteer almost always has a few tame tiels that were surrendered after the family lost interest, and some of them just love to be around kids!
I agree! Poor adorable budgies. Why do peopple do the cruelest things. I say pet stores should treat their budgies more fairly and people shouldn’t throw away budgies! Same goes for tiels! 🙁
I have had my cockatiel for about 8 years, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to give theirs away. Especially if they are tame. they have all the best traits of larger birds without the problems. They’re cuddly like a cockatoo, without developing the problems some cockatoos can have when they don’t get consistency. They are playful, and some can talk, like a macaw. You don’t have to worry about losing a finger while taming one, however, and I’ve heard owners say that even some of their breeding cockatiels are friendly. Even the most anti bird person couldn’t deny their charm after seeing a cockatiel dance and whistle excitedly when their owner lets them out of their cage.
That’s my Nibbler up there, and while he’s an excellent pet, he’s far too vain to be considered humble.
he’s gorgous you should be proud. xxxxx
Great list and this is coming from a parrot! I love my mom and I don’t recommend amazons for kids! While I am sweet and cuddly my friend Bozo is an amazon who hates kids. My friend- an African grey is a fun bird, but they require a lot of responsibility and time. SQUAWKERS is a perfect pet for kids!!!
No not the two I had were great, sweet, kissable
and not needy. True about young children.
Its a shame you left off linnies, they are great little birds for families…
Parrots need and deserve alot of attention,good food, and even vet care at times. By no means are they a cheep or easy pet to have. If you don’t have the time it takes to care for them properly do yourself and more importantly them, a favor, don’t buy one. There are bad rescues popping up all over the place because birds are being over bread and people don’t do the resurce to see what all is involved in bird care. Please do the resurch first, don’t listen to the people who are making the money on them. All birds can and will bite! That’s how they commuicate their feelings to us.
We’ve recently lost our green-cheeked conure. I appreciate your list. Have you heard any negatives on parrotlets?
I’m so sorry to hear about your GCC? What happened?
I don’t know a ton about parrotlets except that they (like many small birds) can have a bit of a Napoleon complex. They think they are much bigger than they are. In other words, lots of personality in a tiny little body! They seem like awesome little birds who work your way right into your heart.
Great list! I myself am underage, and I admit that sometimes, yes, I do wish I could get a break from changing papers and cleaning cages. But it’s all worth it for Mango and Kiwi! 😀 Great list . . . especially Squawkers. 😉
i have a gorgous quaker who i love her name is Lola and she is my friend for life. She talks alot and every nigh whilst i’m watching tv she sits on my chest and wraps herself up in my her then falls asleep. xxxxx
I had a parrotlet. The only parrot I have ever owned. He was wonderful, and full of personality! He did bite HARD and made me bleed, on a regular basis. When we had our first baby, he was so sad. It breaks my heart, still (12 years later). He died a few months later of a tumor. It was devastating to me. I still think he had a broken heart too. I did meet another, whose owner had trained hers not to bite by flicking his beak gently if hers bit. That was the sweetest bird! What do you think about the flicking? Is this painful for the bird?
just want to start having pair of budgeri and know to more about o parrots. Please give me suggestion to having pet as business in Pakistan.
What do you mean: ‘having pet as business’? AS BUSINESS??????
Hi everybody.I think that Squawkers McCaw will be perfect for my family.Anybody know where to purshase this parrot.
I am looking for a cheap and quiet but friendly pionus because a few months ago i had to give away my green cheek conure 🙁 but if i get a bird i will be so happy 🙂
Why did you have to give away your green cheek conure?
i love birds thnk i my mom will not mind havin a Squawkers McCaw around the house
i mean my mom will not minde me havin a Squawkers McCaw
Great to see the budgie getting some credit for the amazing little parrots that they are. I can’t stand the way they are seen as ‘just a budgie’ by some people!
Great article 🙂
I am very confused by trips, I have one and she was the sweetest bird ever! But then she got out of her cage and flew away, she tryed to come back but dident, then I got another teil and he was the meanest thing ever! Now I am deciding on a squaker or parakeet, I want a bird that will love me as much as I love birds! Please leave suggestion, oh btw I am very gental! 🙂
By trips I ment cockateils
Okay, I just found out that the McCaw was a toy
Parrots not good with children? ive had my yellow -crowned since i was 4 years old, im now 28 years old, i agree they should not be given as pets, and need to be fully understood and loved. I found her choosing me when i was so young interesting, maybe being the youngest of three children i was the most innocent and least dangerous? or perhaps it was simply because she was put in my room. If you want a parrot that only bonds to one person and loves and protects them with all their parrot being, than i recommend an amazon, but be ready to put in around fifty years, they dont call them “will birds” for no reason, and Amazons need a flood of love,affection, entertainment, showers, and a good diet.
PS: Get a cage that they can live on top of, leave the food inside so they can freely go in and out, this encourages exercise and give them more of a sense of freedom, based on how well you know your parrot, you can decide if you want to get a cage they can climb down from and roam free, if they chew, etc, than you have to be careful, a wire could kill them. I found that my amazon loves her cage, she has not been locked in it for over 20 years and has free reign. She stays on it and then will let me know when she wants to get off, just love your bird in the true sense of the word and they will love you back and be happy.
i have owned budgies also my uncle breeds them these birds are so underestimated by people they talk boys only girls dont i had one years ago a lady didnt want as she was a canary breeder someone dropped it off to her he could string a long line of swear words along he was better at swearing than a merchant seaman lol honestly he was intelligent i taught him different words and then he would talk to me in a conversation it took time they also mimmic ringing tones bells they do love company although if you want a bird that wants you as there company dont get a friend for them and a mirror for my bird was a good way for him to talk to someone when i was at work he would always dance and enjoyed his freedom once i arrived home he would wolf wistle as well make the most of these little smart birds they can be your best friend if you get them as babies and hand rear them they will love you until the day they die never under estimate these birds and cockatiels are just the same my mother had one he died of liver disease he was mums baby another hand reared bird he loved routinne and always went off his head when mum came into the room and let him out he adored her talked and whistled he was a little noisier they love people usually one person in particular birds need interaction my sister had a rainbow lorikette he was a ball of laughs except for the poo factor he was her alarm when anyone he didnt like come into her bedroom and that included visitors and he would chase them his chest puffed out and his eyes would change his personality would change as well from this reall love able charactor to this monster he also loved being with my sisters cat they always played together birds need you as much as you need them and never ever underestimate them they are not for people who are fickle self centered and busy busy families
That you all for the great ideas and good reading
I’m looking for a larger bird who has a long lifespan and will do well surrounded by people all the time. I’m a bird lover who is in my twenties, and I want a feather buddy who will be around for a very long time.
I’ve been researching the Blue and Gold Macaw, and I think they’re absolutely gorgeous, but I’m adamant that the bird enjoys us as much as we enjoy him, so I’d like other suggestions as well!
The children in our household, while very loud, are well aware that our pet birds are not toys. They’re also aware that they’ll get a good bite for antagonizing them. (Our mildly-aggressive Pacific Parrotlet trained them well.)
The Parrotlet has been with us for nine years, and he’s my best friend. He’s very comfortable with the loudness of our house and he knows our daily routine. He adjusts well to change, and enjoys vacation trips.
On the other hand, our new cockatiel hasn’t quite adjusted yet. She’s been here for eight months, is very easily spooked, and not the best flier. I seem to remember our Parrotlet being skittish when we first got him though, so perhaps she’ll get the hang of it over time.
I’d like to get a bird who will be able to adjust like my Parrotlet has. Any recommendations for a lively household of bird lovers?
YOU SHOULD GET A MC CAW I HAVE 3 OF THEN AND THEY ARE THE BEST THINGS THAT CAME IN MY LIFE.
I am looking to find the perfect bird for my family, but I am allergic to feather dust. For anyone who has any experience with cockateils, do they produce more/less dander than other parrots? I have read that they produce feather dust like cockatoos, but I am wondering if it is enough to spark my allergies. Thanks!
I have 5 cockatiels and they produce ALOT of dust, so I advise you to consider a budgie or lovebird
all birds produce some form of feather dust this is due to the hard shell feathers form in.you would be better off admiring birds from a distance at a zoo are bird garden. Unless you have a friend are family member who has a bird you can spend time with.
I don’t mean to sound hard but it is better for you and the bird.
after all you don’t want to go to the expense of buying a bird then having to rehome it don’t forget you have also got a cage to buy and toys may be £200 for a good quality cage plus the bird cost.
I have kept pet birds for years from Budgies as a child to small conures (Pyrrhura) and a black headed caique who we lost recently.
In my opinion before considering which bird to buy you should ask yourself what is the largest cage I have room for in my house after all most of us are at work most of the day and birds need room to play and plenty of toys to stimulate them.as well as time out of there cage when your at home.