Here’s a conundrum that gets asked from time to time: what are the best quiet pet birds? The difficulty is that birds, by their very nature, tend to be quite a vocal group of animals. Canaries are known for the beautiful singing abilities, while macaws can screech at impressive volumes. Are there really any pet birds that might be described as “quiet”..?
Before we start to look at individual species of birds that might be suitable there are two important lessons that must be understood. The first of these is that “quiet” pet birds is a relative term. No pet bird will ever be as quiet as a gerbil, or a fish tank, or a stick insect. They will all make some noise – it’s just a question of which make less noise than others.
The other lesson is quite a simple one; larger pet birds tend to make louder noises. This makes perfect sense; a larger body size has the potential to squeeze out more squawks than a tiny one. This does mean, however, that when it comes to quiet pet birds you’re generally going to be restricted to smaller birds. A green wing macaw or a lorikeet is rarely going to be described as “quiet”.
So with those two important provisos out of the way: what really are the best quiet pet birds to keep?
Zebra finches are wonderful little birds. Hailing from Australia these tiny finches have energetic, cheerful little personalities, constantly dashing around their cage or aviary. They’re sociable too, and will live happily in pairs or small groups. They’ll even mix well with some other common cage bird species like canaries or even budgies.
What makes zebra finches one of the better quiet cage birds is that they’re not only tiny (meaning a relatively quiet voice) but their call is a soft and fruity “cheep”. This is immeasurably more pleasant than the raucous, ear-splitting screech of a macaw in your home. Indeed many people, including the author, find this quiet cheeping a very enjoyable and relaxing noise to have in the home.
Canaries may be small, but in the right season they can fill a house with their rolling calls. Not exactly what you’d think of when it comes to quiet pet birds. There’s a secret that you should know, however. As it turns out, it is actually only the male birds that sing. The females, by contrast, just chirp nonchalantly to themselves.
While there is a possibility that the reasonably tuneless call of the female may frustrate the odd person, in general the noise is minor. Worst case scenario, of course, the cage can be covered or moved into another room if you’re trying to watch TV.
As reasonably small birds, budgies tend not to have the volume of call that some other birds produce. What is more, while they are capable of an ear-piercing shriek when scared, their standard language is far more pleasant. A gentle babble, budgies chatter quietly away to themselves; a most appealing noise to have in the background.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different – maybe something larger and more exciting than a budgie – then you can’t go far wrong with the Senegal parrot. Clothed in rich yellow and green plumage, this West African member of the parrot family is considered to be one of the quietest pet birds of all.
While youngsters can be a little “screechy” this is normally only when they’re not receiving enough attention. With age – and enough affection – Senegal parrots normally calm down to very quiet adults that are more prone to gentle whistles and clucks than more unpleasant noises.
Birds to Avoid
On the whole, cage birds are a noisy lot. For anyone looking for a quiet life – or to avoid annoying the neighbours – there are plenty of birds that should be avoided. Lovebirds, for example, may be similar in size to budgies but their call is loud and raucous; certainly not what you’d want to hear in an enclosed space. While cockatiels can be reasonably quiet on the whole, they too can produce an impressively-loud whistle when the mood takes them.
As discussed previously, larger birds to be mean more noise. Conures, for example, can be loud and bubbly birds, while most macaws have a call that won’t just wake your next-door neighbours but those in the next street too. You have been warned!