Top 6 Smartest Birds

Owning a pet is a big decision because it requires a lot of responsibility and commitment. A big factor when getting a pet is how it fits into your lifestyle as certain pets may be a great fit while others may not. For most families, the most common choice for a pet is a cat or dog, but sometimes other families may choose to go in a different direction. Maybe they have a family member who is allergic to dander, or their living situation isn’t suitable for fur balls to roam around, or maybe they don’t have time to care for a cat or dog.

Birds are a common alternative to regular cats or dogs when choosing a pet because they don’t take up too much space, and you also don’t have to take them to the toilet or spend too much time exercising.

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


Top 6 Smartest Bird Species:

1. african gray parrot

african gray parrot

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

Despite being socially awkward, this genius parrot is known to be “vocally intelligent”. Not only can they imitate, but in the end they can understand words and speak in sentences which means they really think about what they are going to say! They can also ask their owners questions and express their feelings. These birds have a life span of up to 50 years so with enough love and care, you may hear the touching “I love you” words from your African Gray Parrot.

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2. Macaw

red macaw up close

Macaws are another parrot known for their bright colors and intelligence, making them a great pet if you choose to follow the parrot route! Macaws are emotionally intelligent birds, and they like to communicate with people or other birds. They are said to have intelligence compared to toddlers and can learn various words and even show some problem solving skills.

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

3. Cockatoo

White, Crested, Cockatoo, Isolated, Active, Black, Background

Another parrot, the cockatoo, is again a very intelligent type of bird. Compared to earlier parrots who were vocally and emotionally intelligent, the cockatoo is characterized by its physical and spatial intelligence. Known for their agility, they are popular for trying to escape from their cages by picking up keys or simply by trying to destroy them and find a way out. They love to tear things apart, so it may be advisable to give your cockatoo a toy or material such as a piece of wood that they can play with while in their cage.

Just like macaws, these parrots require a long term commitment as they can live up to 50-70 years. They are very intelligent and enjoy singing more than talking. They can learn words and are very funny birds, attracting people’s attention with their tricks and jokes. Cockatoos are emotionally sensitive, so they need to get enough attention and affection. This shouldn’t be difficult because they are also full of affection and love bonds.

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4. Budgerigars

Side view of Budgerigar_Pixabay

The smaller parrot species, in terms of intelligence, the budgerigar is a great example of the “size doesn’t matter” adage. Budgerigars, or “budgies” for short, are both tiny and incredibly smart! They have the intelligence on par with 2 year olds all squeezed into their cute little bodies. They are very friendly and love to talk and sing, some studies say they can have a vocabulary of up to 800 words!

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

5. Conure

Jenday Conure Cute_kingma photos_Shutterstock

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

Being slightly larger than a budgie, they can live up to 15-20 years. These birds may be small, but they are also intelligent and very beautiful with their distinctive red and green plumage!

6. Finch and Canary

Canaries and Finches (2) (1)

The only birds that are not parrots, finches and canaries belong to an order of birds called passerines. They are relatively quiet and don’t really need much attention but are known to be witty and smart. They are also known to be melodious and often show their vocal prowess even when no one is paying attention to them.

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Since they are not a parrot species, they do not talk and are generally hands off birds, mostly interacting with other birds. They can be territorial, so it’s important not to overcrowd their cage. 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, some finches and canaries might be for you!


Despite being known to be unintelligent, birds are among the most intelligent animals out there and also make for one of the best pets. It’s important to know what you’re looking for when choosing a pet, and birds can be a good alternative to a regular cat or dog.

Even though these mentioned birds come in all shapes and sizes, as well as varying degrees of intelligence, it is ultimately the love and care you give to these birds, and the relationship you form with them that makes them special!

  • Related reading: Are Chickens Smart? Here’s What Science Tells Us

Featured Image Credit: Capri23auto, pixabay

Top 6 Smartest Birds
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