Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

3 Birds That Don’t Fly That You Can Keep as Pets (with Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Mandarin duck swimiing in the river

There are approximately 40 species of flightless birds in the world today. However, many of these are members of the ratite family, such as the ostrich and emu, and penguins, none of which are suitable to be kept as pets. Even if you could legally keep an ostrich as a pet in your area, this giant species grows to up to 10 feet tall and has a dangerous kick and peck. Penguins and a lot of other birds on the list are protected species, which means that while they can be kept in captivity under strict guidelines, they cannot legally be kept as pets.

There are some birds like ducks that, in their wild form, can fly, but that are incapable of flight in their domestic form. The list of birds that are naturally unable to fly and that can be kept as pets is very short.

Below, we have listed three birds that don’t fly and that you could keep as pets.

bird divider

The 3 Birds That Don’t Fly That Can Be Kept as Pets

1. Chickens

Chicken foraging in the grass
Image Credit: NickyPe, Pixabay
Size: 25 inches
Weight: 6 pounds

There are hundreds of breeds of chickens in the world, which makes predicting their size very difficult. Although their ability to get off the ground also depends on the breed, the best that most chickens can muster is a long and awkward jump. With that said, you will need to ensure your coop is well-fenced because this not only prevents the chickens from getting out but prevents predators, both wild and domestic animals, from getting in. Choose a species that likes human company, isn’t too noisy, and is easy to clean up after.

2. Turkeys

Turkey in the yard
Image Credit: create219, Pixabay
Size: 46 inches
Weight: 30 pounds

Turkeys can make surprisingly good pets. They are docile, will get along with most other members of a flock, whether feathered or four-legged, and they can get along well with family members and friends. Turkeys are large birds, though, and you will need to provide plenty of living space. Wild turkeys can fly, albeit they are better equipped for fast, short flights than they are for any long-distance journeys. However, domestic turkeys have been bred to have large breasts and these large breasts prevent flight.

3. Ducks

duck in pond
Image Credit: warrior-on-ice, Pixabay
Size: 24 inches
Weight: 5 pounds

Ducks have suffered a somewhat similar fate to that of turkeys. In the wild, ducks are perfectly capable of flying and do so regularly. However, domestic ducks have been bred with shorter feathers and are heavier. This combination means that the average duck is unable to get off the ground and certainly can’t sustain flight. They do better when kept as part of a flock and they do need a good amount of space, as well as access to some kind of large pond or another water source.

bird divider

What Is the Friendliest Pet Bird?

There are lots of pet bird species that make friendly pets, although all birds need regular handling and an appropriate environment, as well as plenty of socialization if you want a tame family pet. Perhaps the friendliest species, or the species that is most often friendly, is the Cockatiel. This small parrot species has pretty gray and yellow colors, will mimic tunes, and can be trained to perform some basic commands. It is a docile bird that will get along with other species of birds, too, and it will form a bond with its human owner.

What Is the Easiest Pet Bird to Take Care Of?

Parakeets, which are more commonly known as Budgies outside the U.S., are small birds that are considered one of, if not the easiest species to care for. They don’t really need regular handling— although it is possible with ongoing and consistent handling, to raise a Parakeet that will hop on your finger. They don’t need too much room, either, and they are quite tidy little animals so they don’t take as much cleaning up as larger parrots do.

What Is the Best Bird to Buy for a Child?

The Cockatiel and the Budgie can make good pets for children, but you do need to be careful with certain species of birds. If you will let the child handle the bird, you should always be present. Grabbing a bird too tightly around the chest can prevent breathing and may be fatal, so you will need to teach them how to safely and properly handle the bird. Cockatiels are good birds for children that want a bird that can be let out of the cage. Budgies are fun to watch and listen to while remaining in their cages.

Do Birds Make Good Pets?

Birds can make excellent pets. Their care and other requirements vary according to the species, but most birds are low maintenance compared to other types of pets. Their ownership is less likely to be restricted by landlords, they don’t need regular walking (although usually benefit from time out of their cage), and they can be entertaining and may even form a close bond with their human.

bird divider


Birds can make really good pets. Whether you want a bird to watch, or one that is more interactive, there are suitable species and types to choose from. However, there aren’t many pet bird breeds that can’t fly, with your only real options for a flightless bird being domestic chickens, turkeys, or ducks. Other flightless birds are either too large and difficult to keep or are protected and illegal to own as pets.

Featured Image Credit: katja, Pixabay

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database