As children many current bird owners had their taste of the avian world with their first pet. Many pet shops sold parakeets, love birds, cockatiels, finches, canaries and other small birds. To this date, these same birds are available, and so are other species of small bird, but which one rules the roost for a good starting bird?
First before this topic is covered, a little warning about companion bird ownership:
Parrots are not dogs or cats. These creatures maintain a more feral attitude than man's best friend, and will require much more time, and money than what fido or fluffy could possibly cost. Of course if you already have experience, and want to introduce your child to the responsibilities of a bird, then allow this article to give you a little insight.
Parakeets have long been a staple as a starter bird for many decade. Although small and cute, they are hard to find handfed and well socialized. Taming a parakeet down is quite a bit of work for a child, but not impossible. Some say that they lose their taming if not handled for a few weeks, but this is absolutely untrue. As for selecting a parakeet, it is highly recommended to purchase a male, and not a female. The males tend to tame easier, and are not as hormonal or as high strung as their female counterparts.
Another small bird that should be looked at is a cockatiel. It is not hard to find a cockatiel that has been hand fed, and socialized with humans. You will be better off seeking out a breeder, since most chain pet stores only sell parent raised cockatiels, and at double the price of one from a breeder. Cockatiels are a fairly simple bird to keep tame, and do have a nak for children. Of course this is speaking generally, and not specifically. As with most birds not every bird is going to like everyone. When deciding on a bird, take your child with you, and ask the breeder if the birds have been socialized with children. Cockatiels can also be clicker trained, and do take well to positive reinforcement.
The basics of taking care of a bird break down to feeding, and giving water to the bird twice daily (typically right before human breakfast, and right before human dinner), changing out the papers, and bedding atleast a few times a week, and daily handling & interaction with the bird. This is quite a responsibility for a young person to take on, and if they are not responsibly enough to do this, then it becomes yet another parental responsibility.
Aside from basic care comes basic handling rules for all parrots. It is highly advised that you educate yourself, and your child on positive reinforcement, and proper ways to handle a bird before ever even looking at at bird. Birds will bite, and this is a guarantee. A bite from a parakeet or cockatiel doesn't compare to the bite of bigger parrots, but still is gonna be a hard pinch, which may be a little much for smaller children. Birds do bite to test the water to see if they can use it as a method of getting their way. As long as your child learns to not react to the bite, then the bird will only use a bite out of fear or as a last resort to keep their balance. Under no means should a bird be punished if a child does something they shouldn't to the bird. Birds are not like dogs, which will take a lot of abuse, and not bite. Birds bite as a knee jerk response to miscare, and most will never give up that instinct.
Finally, no bird is a one chapter book, so do your research before buying any bird at all. You would be surprised on the varying amount of misinformation on the internet about different species, so it is also advised to join a bird forum to pick up more first hand information. Kit kat's parrot chat is known very well for having a wide range of bird owners and breeder, who are more than happy to help you along every step of the way in owning birds. Remember that sometimes the best advice is that you learn yourself, but it never helps to hear from the exper