Did you know that some of the smartest pet birds have higher IQ levels than apes?
In fact, the word “bird brain,” which was often used as an insult, could actually be a compliment since some birds possess remarkable intelligence.
They can speak, create, and utilize tools to run their errands efficiently.
And today, we’re unveiling the list of “most intelligent birds” and sharing with you:
- the proof of their intelligence
- their talents and capabilities
- and the qualities that make them ideal as pets
Whether you’re looking for a smart avian pet or just interested in the things these mighty birds are capable of doing, you’ll enjoy this list we created for you.
So, join us as we explore the avian world and dive deeper beyond what meets the eye.
Let’s start with the bird species that changed how humans think about birds and bird brains.
5 Smartest Pet Birds
1. African Grey Parrot – The Vocally Intelligent Bird Who Understands Words
African Greys may not have the most striking plumage in the avian’s world, but they have the brains that will rival that of a 5-year-old child.
So, it should come as no surprise that these birds dominate this list.
They could live from 50 up to 80 years and grow up to 13 inches tall and 15 – 18 ounces big.
Their body’s feathers appear gray, while their tail’s feathers are red, and their eyes can be yellow or silver.
Here’s What African Greys Can Do
It’s a known fact that many birds, especially the Parrots ones, can talk.
But what sets African Grey parrots apart from them is their ability to understand the meaning of words.
Others just mimic human sounds.
These birds can speak foreign languages, tell jokes, laugh, and count as well.
Additionally, they can be trained to identify materials, shapes, colors, build logical sentences, and express their feeling.
Why African Grey is Among the Smartest Pet Birds in The World
One of the most popular smart African Grey Parrot is Alex. Dr. Irene Pepperberg purchased him from a pet store and studied him for 30 long years.
Dr. Pepperberg discovered that this parrot has a high level of intelligence.
He could speak, learn about 50 object names, and identify colors, shapes, and quantities.
He also learned over 100 words in the English language.
But perhaps what makes Alex one for the books is that he’s the only animal who had ever asked a question when he asked what color he was.
After he died in 2007, many African Grey Parrots also earned a good reputation for being smart.
One of them is Hartsfield’s African grey parrot, Pepper, who complimented Hartsfield’s husband by saying, “Carl, you’re good like cake.”
Pepper could accurately describe things and people and can put a label on her favorite foods and items.
Another unique African Grey Parrot was Rafiki. He was cared for by LeAnne Summers from Ontario, Canada.
Rafiki has a sense of humor and learned many vocabulary words. He can even laugh at his own jokes.
Another impressive 6-year-old Congo African Grey Parrot, named Felix, was taken care of by Nancy Gallegos in Illinois, U.S.
Felix could build logical words and phrases. He also likes to make songs to entertain people.
And now he’s working on other abilities, such as counting and reciting the alphabet.
Sounds incredible, right?
What Makes This Smart Pet Bird An Ideal Pet
These birds tend to be nervous and socially awkward like some genius humans out there, but they are pet materials.
Aside from their brilliant mind, they’re in demand as pets due to their excellent sense of humor.
They can sing and dance for you, fill your home with laughter, and even tell you the sweetest “I love you.”
Since they can live up to 50 years, African Grey Parrots can accompany you for a long time.
2. Macaws – The Emotionally Intelligent Birds Who Can Read Your Expressions
Next on this list is the species with extra-striking coloration.
But they’re more than just their pretty plumage. These birds are also extraordinary in terms of intelligence level.
Why Macaws Are Among the Smartest Pet Birds
Macaws’ intelligence level is comparable to that of a toddler.
These birds are emotionally intelligent since they can recognize changes in their emotions by seeing their faces.
They can also solve problems, use tools, and communicate with other birds.
In a 2018 Canadian study, it was discovered that a parrot’s brain has a specific part that bridges the cortex and cerebellum’s line of communication.
It is called spiriform, and it’s similar to that of a primate, which is also a brilliant animal.
Scientists believe it’s responsible for the planning and execution of Macaw’s advanced behaviors.
Additionally, a team of scientists tried to map Macaw’s entire genome to grasp their intelligence.
They discovered that these species are very similar to chickens, but Macaws’ brain development makes them much more intelligent.
The proof of that is their ability to learn human words and sentences.
Types of Macaw Birds
Macaws have different types. First is the Hyacinth macaw, the longest living parrot on earth.
This Macaw is also known as a Blue parrot, and it originates in Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
The word beautiful would be an understatement to describe this cobalt-blue-colored bird.
However, you cannot purchase a Hyacinth Macaw at pet stores because it’s now an endangered species.
Another friendly and intelligent macaw is the Blue and Gold Macaw.
As its name suggests, this bird has blue and gold/yellow colors.
They are also talkative and loud.
We can’t neglect the Greenwing Macaws, who are equally gorgeous with other Macaws too.
Their body is mostly red, but their wings have gradient hues of green and blue.
These bright pet birds could quickly respond to their training, but they need socialization time and attention.
The Scarlet Macaw is worth mentioning, too, because they’re both intelligent and stunning.
What Makes These Smart Pet Birds An Ideal Pet?
Aside from their colorful plumage and remarkable intelligence, Macaws are very sweet, friendly, and loving.
They possess energetic and colorful characters.
But their social nature can also lead them to become aggressive in some environments.
Since these birds have a life expectancy of 5o to 70 years, it’s worth noting that keeping them as pets requires a lifelong commitment.
But overall, these parrots are lovable and gentle by nature, so they’re ideal for keeping pets.
3. Cockatoos – The Spatially Intelligent Birds with Creative Ideas
Sitting in third place are the cockatoos who possess a unique talent among birds.
These parrots are of Australian origin and are recognizable due to their plain white feathers.
Male cockatoos feature deep black eyes, while females have reddish eye color.
But its feathers and eyes color also depends on what species it belongs to.
And as mentioned above, these birds are geniuses in a specific field.
Why Cockatoos Belong to the Smartest Pet Birds’ List?
Cockatoo parrot is the only species that makes musical instruments, like drumsticks using seed pods and twigs.
Other cockatoos on the other end appear to understand rhythm and can sway to a musical beat.
A study published in 2014 also discovered that these cockatoos have spatial reasoning abilities similar to that of human babies and primates.
If that doesn’t impress you, here’s another proof of their intelligence – their ability to learn complex tricks.
These birds can also unlock most standard locks.
Yes, they always find their way out, so keeping them in a cage can be challenging.
They’ve made their way to television screens, too, thanks to their intelligence.
They’ve appeared in television shows like David Letterman and Johnny Carson.
Like other parrots, cockatoos are also excellent companions that are easy to train and ready to learn.
Cockatoos Who Showed Remarkable Intelligence
Elvis, a breeder cockatoo raised by Carol Stanley, is one of the most intelligent cockatoos ever reported.
One time, when his mate named Mimi Posh Bird jumped and bumped into him, Elvis suddenly cocked his head.
And then he said, “What are you doing?” in a very irritated manner.
It proves his understanding of human words and ability to use them logically.
Another smart sulfur-crested Cockatoo is Casper from Illinois, who has 50 to 70 words in his vocabulary.
Furthermore, he can use it at appropriate times, and he has learned some words by himself like “grapefruit.”
Since his owner believes that she didn’t teach him the word Casper, she was in disbelief when she heard it and almost fell off her couch.
What Makes These Smart Birds Ideal as Pets?
These birds might not be the prettiest among parrots, but they possess a sweet personality you’ll surely love.
They’re also affectionate, and they love bonding with their owners, making them an ideal pet.
The downside, though, is they’re sensitive.
Thus, they can easily fall into deep emotional distress when not cared for properly.
4. Budgerigars – The Tiny But Intelligent Pet
Now we’re down to the all-time favorite pet bird, none other than Budgies or Parakeets.
They’re one of the smallest parrots in the world, but they’re popular as pet birds for a good reason.
Budgerigars vary in color depending on the place they are coming from.
Their feather’s color can be green, blue, gray, yellow, black, or white.
But the feather of their head down to their wings are mostly spotted with dark colors like black.
This parrot may be the smallest, but you will surely be amazed by their intelligence.
What Can Budgies Do?
With proper training, a budgie could learn up to 100 and more vocabulary and phrases. That’s pretty awesome for these tiny parrots.
Budgies’ voice is as tiny as its size, but they can speak better than the larger ones.
The more they say the words, the clearer they can pronounce them.
Researchers say that their intelligence is similar to a two-year-old child.
They’re the first non-mammal species that can understand human language and mimic them.
They can even recognize patterns of words even if it’s meaningless.
A study conducted by the Budgie Research Group also discovered many pieces of evidence that these birds can communicate in context.
One of the subjects of their study is Herbert.
When his owner told him that he couldn’t get out of his cage until four, he replied and said, “I can’t wait until four.”
That’s proof of his understanding of human words.
Another subject of their study was Victor, who has been reported to have 800 words in his vocabulary.
What Makes These Smart Pet Birds an Ideal Pet?
These intelligent pet birds are sweet and happy.
So, it should come as no surprise that they’re popular in the avian world.
Not to mention their feathering that can compete with large species in terms of beauty and timeless elegance.
They’re good-natured, affordable, quick-witted, and they have a shorter life expectancy compared to large birds.
So, they’re ideal for those who want a parrot with a budget-friendly price, intelligent mind, beautiful plumage, and fewer commitment requirements.
5. Amazon Parrot – The Vocally Talented and Playful Genius
The bird that completes the list is also a part of the parrot family.
These birds have green bodies and distinct feather colorings on their head and forehead.
Why Amazon Parrot Is One of the Smartest Pet Birds in the World
There are different variations of amazon parrots, but they’re generally talented, highly-intelligent, and affectionate.
These birds can be trained to perform various complex tricks and tasks.
Additionally, they can mimic human voices almost perfectly.
An Eclectus parrot, for instance, can sing and even learn entire songs.
What Makes This Smart Bird An Ideal Pet?
These birds are desirable pets since they’re entertaining, intelligent, trainable, stunning, and affectionate.
They have all the beautiful qualities you could ever ask in a pet bird.
Honorable Mentions – Smartest Birds in the World
Aside from the members of the avian above, there are other genius birds too that deserve recognition.
They include the following:
This black passerine bird has impressive problem-solving skills and the ability to customize tools.
Additionally, they can count, recognize human faces, talk and reason out.
In fact, crows are intelligent than primates and other mammals.
The only reason they didn’t get to the list is that the law prohibits capturing them in the wild.
You can’t purchase, export, and keep as pets because they’re under the protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
This bird is also a member of the parrot family that originates from New Zealand.
In an intelligence test carried out by a Canterbury University master student, it turned out that Kea birds are more intelligent than gibbons and anthropoid apes, which are both primates.
Therefore, these birds are also worthy of recognition.
Like crows, keas are in a protected status, so they can’t be held in captivity as pets.
FAQs on the Smartest Pet Birds
How smart is a parrot?
Parrots are among the smartest birds to date. The join the top smartest birds with ravens, jays, and crows.
Parrots have the ability of what’s called complex cognition. Complex cognition are processes that people like us use to process and provide information after receiving it.
Parrots are capable of processes like tool manufacturing, mirror self-recognition, object permanence, meta-cognition, vocal learning, and more!
Why are birds so smart?
Believe it or not, birds in general have larger brains comparative to their body and head size. They have certain brain structures that allow some breeds to recognize themselves!
Final Takeaways About the World’s Smartest Pet Birds
So, there you have it! Those are the smartest pet birds in the world.
If you want to keep them as pets, remember that the larger and smarter the birds are, the needier they become.
Those birds are innately smart, but training them to become more intelligent also takes time and effort.
But by socializing and bonding with them, teaching them different words, songs, and tricks, you can help them unlock their potentials.
They also need mentally stimulating exercises to avoid boredom and prevent the development of behavioral problems.
So, it takes courage to commit to taking care of these birds.
However, keeping an intelligent creature can be very rewarding.
Which of the smartest pet birds in this list is your favorite?
Please share it with us in the comment section below.
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