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20 Amazing Facts About Pet Birds: Species, Traits, Lifespan & More

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

Two Fischers lovebirds hanging out

While cats and dogs seem to rule the pet industry, birds are not far behind! They come in so many different sizes, colors, and personalities. Some people prefer parrots for their talking capabilities, while others appreciate the Cockatoo’s dancing talent.

If you’re a bird lover, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we regale you with all kinds of interesting facts about pet birds, and hopefully, you’ll learn something new!

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The 20 Facts About Pet Birds

1. There are an estimated 50 billion wild birds in the world

If you love pet birds, you likely love all birds. This works out to about six birds for every human1. The bird with the largest population is the House Sparrow, with 1.6 billion birds found worldwide.

2. There are either 9,700 or 11,000 bird species in the world

No one really knows exactly how many bird species there are, but BirdLife states there are 11,0002, and Princeton states that there are 9,7003.

canary bird on the cage
Image Credit: Stanislav71, Shutterstock

3. 9.9 million American households own a bird

Of course, cats and dogs are the most widely owned, but as of 2022, 70% of American households own a pet4. This works out to 90.5 million homes.

4. The Budgie is the most popular pet bird

The Budgerigar comes from Australia, and is also sometimes referred to as a parakeet in the U.S., and is considered the most popular pet birds.

5. Birds are dinosaurs

About 150 million years ago, birdlike dinosaurs evolved5. After the extinction of dinosaurs, the remaining evolved into the birds that we have today.

cute yellow budgie being pet by owner
Image Credit: Mario Snchz, Shutterstock

6. Birds can live from 4 to 100 years

The oldest documented wild bird is Wisdom, a 69-year-old female Laysan Albatross6. Also, birds are lucky! Once a bird is an adult, they don’t age the way that we and most other species do, so they don’t get gray feathers or arthritis.

7. The oldest pet bird was Cookie at 82 years old

A cockatoo, Cookie, has the world record for the oldest bird, though he died in August 20167. Unsurprisingly, he also has the record for the oldest parrot ever.

8. Many parrots love to dance

No one really knows why parrots enjoy dancing, but it seems like they can feel the beat, and they even have favorite songs8!

9. Birds are highly susceptible to fumes

Birds have complex respiratory systems, enabling them to take in more oxygen every time they breathe. This also means if there are any toxic fumes close to a pet bird, it can prove fatal.

Never use scented candles or any kind of air freshener near your pet bird. Also, Teflon pans are known for giving off fumes that are toxic to birds.

10. Birds are not all birdbrains

While the brains of birds are small, many birds are smart! Birds in the parrot family and corvids like crows, ravens, and magpies, are all known to be exceptionally intelligent.

11. Birds are social

Pet birds are known to form strong bonds with their owners. Just watch a few of the videos floating around on social media, and you might be surprised at the affection shared between owner and bird!

12. Some birds are omnivores

Many bird species will eat everything from seeds and nuts to fruits, insects, and sometimes meat. This includes parrots, Cockatiels, chickens, crows, and cranes.

hens eating scraps in the snow
Image Credit: Coryn, Shutterstock

13. Some birds have more taste buds than others

Chickens have about 24 taste buds, parrots have over 300, and ostriches have no taste buds at all. Just to compare, the average person has 2,000 to 10,000 taste buds!

Depending on the bird species, the taste buds are located in different parts of their mouths, throats, and bills. Parrots have taste buds at the back of their throats and on the roof of their mouths, and crows have them at the front of their tongue.

14. Some Birds do not have a strong sense of smell

Some birds don’t have a strong sense of smell, but they do have excellent vision, which is what they rely on. Some birds have more well-developed olfactory senses than others, like the Turkey vulture and Kiwi who rely on a strong sense of smell to locate food. While some other birds don’t rely much on smell to function so it will be less developed in that particular species.

15. Birds have ears that we usually can’t see

If you’ve ever wondered how a bird can hear, they have tiny ear holes on the sides of their heads at about eye level. These are covered in feathers and are not always easy to see.

Since they don’t have external ears that funnel in sound, it’s thought that the shape of the bird’s head helps them determine where a sound is coming from.

16. The world’s smallest bird is the Bee Hummingbird

These birds are found in Cuba and lay their eggs in nests that are about the size of a quarter! They weigh less than 2 grams, which is the weight of a dime. The heaviest bird is the ostrich, which can weigh up to 280 pounds!

male Bee Hummingbird perched
Image Credit: Melinda Fawver, Shutterstock

17. There are roughly 350 species of parrots

The Kakapo is the heaviest of the parrots and can weigh 2 to 9 pounds! They are from New Zealand and are critically endangered because they are flightless. In 2018, there were only 116 adults. The largest pet parrot is the Hyacinth Macaw, which is also the longest parrot.

The smallest parrot is the Buff-Faced Pygmy, which comes from Papua New Guinea. Parrotlets are the smallest parrot that you can have as a pet, which are about 4.5 to 5 inches long.

18. Your Parrot loves you if they throw up on you

Parrots often regurgitate what they’ve eaten to feed their young or when bonding with their mate – a process known as allofeeding. So, if your parrot throws up on you, this is their unique, albeit gross, way of telling you that they love you. Males are more likely to do this.

19. Birds have impeccable timing

Birds have a strict routine, which people with roosters can attest to. Most pet birds get about 12 hours of sleep at night but will be raring to go and looking for breakfast early every morning.

Hens and a rooster in the courtyard.
Image Credit: Vitalii M, Shutterstock

20. The most expensive pet bird is the racing pigeon

A racing pigeon is the most expensive bird to purchase. This is due to gambling because an exceptionally fast pigeon by the name of Armando sold for $1.4 million in 2019!

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Before dashing out and bringing home a new bird, you should make sure to research the species that you’re interested in. Most birds live a long time—some might even outlive you—and they all require specific care.

Birds are amazing creatures and are smarter and more loving than they are often given credit for. Just remember that they are a serious commitment to own and require plenty of attention, but they are so worth it!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Josef Svoboda, Shutterstock

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