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Top 6 Smartest Birds

Nicole Cosgrove

Owning a pet is a big decision as it requires a lot of responsibility and commitment. A huge factor when obtaining a pet is how it fits into your lifestyle as certain pets may fit perfectly while others may not. For most families, the most common choice for pets is either cats or dogs, but sometimes other families may choose to go a different direction. Perhaps they have family members who are allergic to fur, or their living situation would not be suitable for furballs running around, or maybe they simply do not have the time to take care of a cat or dog.

Birds are a common alternative to the common cat or dog when choosing pets because they do not really take up so much space, and you also do not have to take them to go potty or take up too much time for exercise.

While birds have a bad reputation for being unintelligent, birds are, in fact, very smart animals. Here we list down 6 of the smartest bird breeds that are known to be good pets, and with training and patience, you may have them doing tricks in no time!

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Top 6 Smartest Bird Species:

1. African Grey Parrot

African Grey Parrot
Image Credit: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

In this list of smartest birds, you will find that most of these birds are parrots, and right at the top is the African Grey Parrot. Among all birds and across multiple research and studies, the African Grey Parrot is considered a genius. This parrot is said to have an intelligence equivalent to a 5–7-year-old child and can have a vocabulary of up to 100 words!

Although socially awkward, these genius parrots are known to be “vocally intelligent”. Not only can they mimic, but they can eventually understand the words and speak in sentences meaning they actually think about what they are going to say! They can also ask their owners questions and express how they feel. These birds have a life span of up to 50 years so with enough love and care, you might hear the touching words of “I love you” from your African Grey Parrot.


2. Macaws

scarlet macaw close up
Image Credit: Angie Toh, Pixabay

Macaws are another type of parrot that are known for their bright colors and intelligence, making them great pets should you choose to go the parrot route! Macaws are emotionally intelligent birds, and they love communicating with people or other birds. They are said to have an intelligence compared to a toddler and can learn a variety of words and even exhibit some problem-solving skills.

Should you decide to own a macaw, be prepared for a long-term commitment. A macaw’s life span is around 40-50 years, and some would even live up to 70 years old! Although they have a tendency to be aggressive, they are generally friendly and loving parrots that require a lot of both emotional and intelligent stimulation.


3. Cockatoos

White,Crested,Cockatoo,Isolated,On,Black,Background
Image Credit: Akarat Duangkhong, Shutterstock

Another parrot, the cockatoo is, again, a very intelligent breed of bird. Compared to the previous parrots being vocally and emotionally intelligent, the cockatoos are characterized by their physical and spatial intelligence. Known for their dexterity, they are popular for attempting to escape their cages by picking the locks or by simply trying to destroy it and find a way out. They enjoy ripping things apart, so it may be recommended to provide your cockatoo with toys or materials such as pieces of wood that they can mess around with while in their cages.

Just like the macaws, these parrots require long-term commitment as they can live up to 50-70 years. They are extremely intelligent and enjoy singing more than talking. They can learn words and are very playful birds, catching people’s attention with their tricks and jokes. The cockatoos are emotionally sensitive, so it is necessary that they receive enough attention and affection. This should not be difficult as they are also affectionate in nature and love bonding.


4. Budgerigars

Budgerigar side view_Pixabay
Image credit: Pixabay

A smaller species of parrot, when it comes to intelligence, the budgerigars are a great example of the saying “size does not matter”. Budgerigars, or “budgies” for short, are both tiny and incredibly smart! They have the intelligence equivalent to a 2-year-old child all squeezed into their cute little bodies. They are very sociable and love to talk and sing, some studies say that they can have a vocabulary of up to 800 words!

Due to their size, their lifespan is not as long as their bigger parrot counterparts, with a lifespan of up to 10 years. As curious little birds, budgies are like sponges that absorb all the information in the environment, from speech, to the telephone ringing, all the way to the honking of horns!


5. Conures

Jenday Conure Cute_kingma photos_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Kingma, Shutterstock

Another species of parrots on the small side, the conures can be slightly larger than the budgie and are also extremely intelligent. While there are several species of conures, these small-medium sized birds are excellent problems solvers. When owning a conure, it is important to note that these birds need companionship as they can get lonely. Make sure they get constant social and mental stimulation from people, companion birds, toys, or all three!

Being slightly larger than the budgies, they can live up to 15-20 years. These birds may be tiny, but they are also intelligent and absolutely beautiful with their signature red and green feathers!


6. Finches and Canaries

Canaries and Finches (2) (1)
Image Credit: Kateryna Moroz, Shutterstock, Pixabay

The only birds that are not parrots, the finches and canaries belong to the order of birds called passerines. They are relatively quiet and do not really require much attention but are known for being witty and clever. They are also known for being melodic and often showcase their vocal prowess even when nobody is paying any attention to them.

Because they do not belong to the parrot species, they do not talk and are generally hands-off birds, mostly interacting with other birds. They can be territorial, so it is important to avoid crowding their cages. They can live up to 10 years and if you are looking for a low-maintenance companion that can be equally entertaining to care for, a couple of finches and canaries may be perfect for you!

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Despite being known as unintelligent, birds are one of the smartest animals out there and make for some of the best pets as well. It is important to know what you are looking for when choosing a pet, and birds can be a good alternative to the common cat or dog.

Although these birds mentioned come in different shapes and sizes, and also varying levels of intelligence, at the end of the day it is the love and care you give these birds, and the relationship you form with them that make them special!


Featured Image Credit: Capri23auto, pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.