Smartest bird at the pet store for under $50?

I’m thinking about getting another pet. I’ve never had a bird, so I was wondering if you guys could give me a little more information.

My questions:

  1. Are any birds under $50 smart enough to be toilet/paper trained?

  2. How much, on average, would the necessary supplies be?

  3. Can they be kept out of their cage? I have a small enclosed patio as well, the fence is ~8ft high.

Other information advice would be great.

Thanks in advance.

The common budgie-parakeet is smart enough to be paper trained and to say anything they feel like. I would not want to try keeping one without a cage

I would not let your Budgie outside either. If they find food they might not come back; they also may not come back if the neighbor’s cat finds them. An 8’ fence doesn’t mean much to a bird.

Cockateils are actually pretty bright as basic birds go and can be taught a few simple tricks. Ours would mimic a couple whistles we kept repeating around him.

(long ago) We used to let ours pretty much roam the house and it had a little wooden ladder/ramp that it would climb back into his cage when it got dark. You still need to keep them clipped or they will manage to fly out an open door, he tried unsuccessfully a couple times.

Or a cat.

You’ll probably get more bird for your buck at a rescue or shelter.

All parrots are pretty smart – budgies hold the world record for vocabulary, 'tiels are probably the friendliest and most easygoing, but not nearly as vocal, lovebirds are cuddly.

The other parrots are varying degrees of playful and/or talky…but you won’t get anything other than the three above for under $50, and frankly around here 'tiels are $80.

Rescues in your area are fairly easily Googled; your local shelter may occasionally get birds; and most vets’ offices have a bulletin board that may have a “free to good home” notice on it. Rehoming a bird is likely to be cheaper, may include cage and accessories already, and is just a darned nice thing to do.

Birds can and definitely should be out-of-cage for at least part of every day. Beware birds on the floor – stepping-on and door-slamming accidents are common. We pick ours up every time we find them on the floor.

Look up some bird-oriented message boards for a list of hazards to avoid, cheap toys, and all kinds of useful info. (Despite their hideously antiquated message board software, I’m partial to and

Budgies make wonderful pets - cheap, sociable, very loving, intelligent little parrots. However, like most pets, there are indeed some things to bear in mind and they’re not for everyone.

They should be let of their cage as often as is feasible so they can exercise their wings and get their exercise. Plus, based on my own experience of growing up in a home where there were pet budgies, they seem to plain old like flying so it’s kind to let them do it. But I don’t recommend letting them fly outside the house EVER. Birds tend to panic in new environments and express that by flying up and away as high as they can. That’s a disaster for Budgie - the poor things freak out and fly upwards and away before they can get their bearings. For this reason, keeping doors and windows closed is a total must do if they are out of the cage.

I also wouldn’t recommend getting a bird if you have a cat in your household, especially if you’re going to allow the bird the freedom of a room. For obvious reasons. I also wouldn’t recommend getting budgies if someone isn’t willing to commit to spending a lot of time in its company. As mentioned, they are very sociable little things and, as a flock bird, have a strong desire for company. Leaving one on its own for hours at a time when, for example, both people work all day is not therefore ideal.

Oh, and they aren’t very robust. And they make all possible effort to conceal signs of illness. Not a happy combo for the pet owner. Because of these things, it is vital that you take your bird to a vet at the first possible sign of any illness.

Sailboat gave good advice. The humane society here always has some budgies and cockatiels.

Sorry, one more thing. Again, I can only speak for my own experience and only of budgies, but get a young budgie, not an adult one. Or if you do, make sure it’s friendly to you first. Birds that have grown up not being handled by humans struggle not to be afraid of them. The budgies we had that were young when we first bought them all became loving little pets. The two we got as adult birds were always highly skittish and wary of us all their lives.

This happens quickly too.

I found my budgie while walking to work - according to the vet he was only about six months old and must have done a panic flight (as noted upthread) even at that age and with a lovng home since, he’s very nervy about being handled.

One thing I’d beware is that budgies aren’t solitary creatures, so it’s kinder to keep them with at least one other budgie, but they’re also REALLY FUCKING LOUD when you have two. We eventually gave ours away because we just couldn’t take the noise any more - they were loud enough to be heard from across the road 20 hours a day.

So a rescue would definitely be best - it’s an easy way to justify getting a solitary bird.

Oh, yeah, we had a parakeet when I was young and it made a racket! But really, only if you were paying attention to it, or ignoring it.

Which would seem to be an exhaustive list (in other words: all the time :wink: ).

First, the warnings.

Birds are very time-consuming pets, so be sure you really have the time and energy to deal with one. They’re very social, and really NEED attention. If you can’t do that, don’t get a bird - or get some little finches that can stay in a cage.

Don’t get anything bigger than a cockatiel as your first bird. This is advice from my spousal unit, who raised/sold birds for a couple of decades. The larger birds take a HUGE amount of time and attention - think having a permanent two-year-old with a chainsaw and a destructive streak. Not to mention being incredibly loud - way, way louder than the little birds. (Although I’ve had some little birds that made much more annoying sounds than the big guys. Piercing.)

You say you’re thinking about getting another pet. If you already have a cat or dog, think very carefully about getting a bird. Anything bigger than finches you need to let out of the cage and interact with, and birds die very easily. I’ve heard more stories about people whose other pets “would never touch the bird” … until they did.

DO NOT take an unrestrained bird outside. I’ve known a few people who got their birds because someone else lost them. I’ve known a few of the people that lost them, too. You can get little harnesses for them online, if you want to train them to go outside. If you carry them around on your shoulder inside, don’t forget and walk outside with the bird.

Don’t leave one sitting on an outside perch, either. You know all those stories about hawks swooping down on pets? Well, smaller birds are natural prey for raptors. Yep, I’ve met people this has happened to.

An 8-foot fence means nothing to a bird or cat. Cats can kill a bird that’s inside a cage. So can snakes.

Be careful letting them out indoors too. Don’t let them out unsupervised. You can imagine what a ceiling fan blade on high-speed can do to a bird. Not to mention getting hung in curtains, chewing through electrical cords, etc. etc. etc.

Budgies/parakeets and cockatiels are great little birds. They can be extremely affectionate and some are very talkative. They’re not nearly as scary as some of the larger birds can be - have you ever looked at the beak on a parrot? Think about that nuzzling next to your eye, because they’re going to.

They don’t need nearly as much time and attention as the large parrots, either. You still need to play with them every day, but not all day.

They’re also not nearly as destructive as the larger birds, who usually require things to tear up if you want to keep them from starting on your house.

In general, you only want one bird at a time, if you want them to interact with you. If you get more than one, they’ll tend to socialize with each other rather than you. But if you can’t give them the attention they need, get a pair. Just don’t expect them to be all lovey-dovey with you when they’ve got a bird pal.

And training birds can be an exercise in frustration. Very good for the development of patience, though. There really isn’t any way to effectively discipline a bird, other than to ignore the bad behavior (at most, separating the bird from yourself) and reward the good, and wait for them to decide to be good. They’ll talk if they want to, do tricks if they want to, etc. Fortunately, since they are social, if the bird wants your attention (and it does!) it will cooperate. Usually.

For instance, to potty-train a bird, you watch it carefully whenever it’s out. When it poops, immediately return it to its perch or cage and ignore it for a bit. Don’t yell, don’t scold, don’t do anything else.

You’ll soon learn the warning behaviours that the bird is about to poop. When you see the warning, get the bird to its spot before it poops, and then praise it for going in the right spot and bring it back out to hang with you. Eventually, it will either take itself to the right place, or be sure to warn you so that you can get it there. Unless it doesn’t feel like it.

After your initial investment for bird, cage, bowls, etc., they’re not terribly expensive to keep. But that initial investment can be fairly high - I doubt you’ll be able to do it for $50.

Before you get a bird, find a good local vet who sees birds. Finding a vet for exotics can be very difficult - you don’t want to wait until you have a problem.

Do some research on your options for obtaining the bird, also. Don’t buy one from Walmart or Petsmart or one of those places. In the first place, it will probably die shortly as they’re notorious for not taking care of birds. In the second place, you don’t want to encourage them to sell animals they won’t take care of.

Find a good local breeder or pet shop, or one of the rescue groups. Any of those should be more than willing to help you pick out the right bird for you, based on what you want and your lifestyle, and get the proper supplies. Most of them will have a some sort of return policy, if you find out in the first few weeks that a bird is not for you. They’ll be very interested in making sure you’re happy with your bird, because another bird-lover is a customer for years!

TLDR version:

Birds are terrific pets, for people who love birds and their foibles, and have lots of time and attention to give.

Birds are horrible pets for people who don’t.

And they’re a lot smarter than people think.

Get a small bird first to see how you like it.

Sorry for the tome above, I see that a lot of it was already said. But I’d spent a long time typing and decided to post it anyway, dammit! :stuck_out_tongue:

Hmm, I guess noise is going to be a concern too. Our neighbor has a dog that barks all the time, and they’ve been given numerous warnings.

Noise is a KEY issue. My first bird was a conure, and it was louder then a heavy metal band. In the summer, I could hear him from blocks away. I still miss him, but he went through three or more owners before I got him. Birds are also as emotional as they are loud.

Will birds settle down if they’re in a cage and you put a cover over the cage?

We had a canary when I was a child, and we always put a cover over its cage at night “because that’s what you’re supposed to do”. Obviously a canary isn’t a budgie and makes a very different set of sounds…

Ours did until dawn. And that meant dawn. In summer. That was their loudest time of day. And of course, during the day it’d be cruel to keep them covered.

We live in a flat on one level; the noise really was unbearable. I made sure that their new owners had a larger home on two storeys and they’re doing well there.

A budgie I had as a kid was nearly always quiet, but then it also didn’t really like being let out of its cage (it was a rescue budgie), so even though it was a much easier pet it was also a much less happy one. ISTM there’s a difficult balance to strike between between a kind budgie owner and a happy one.