The 5 Smartest Birds You Can Keep as Pets


Research into animal intelligence spans many years, and bird species are usually among the top on the list of the most intelligent animals. However, certain birds, like species of parrots that are commonly kept as pets, have demonstrated higher intelligence than other species.

African Grey Parrot

African Grey parrots are the most extensively researched species of pet birds and have demonstrated an advanced amount of intelligence. The most well-known African Greys was Alex; however, he died around 2007 at the tender age of 31. He was rescued from a pet shop when he was just one by an undergraduate student named Professor. Pepperberg cared for Alex and studied him throughout his existence.
Before Alex was born, the majority of research into avian intelligence was conducted using pigeons; needless to say; the results were disappointing. Alex revolutionized the way people thought about the abilities of birds to learn. Over the years and until his passing, Alex knew over 100 English terms and was believed to have the level of intelligence that a five-year-old would have at the time of his death.
The critics of Alex’s research claim that he could have been a result of operant conditioning and not understanding; however, even if it was just a learned response, Alex’s skills are beyond the experience that pets can accomplish. Due to Alex, African Grey parrots have earned a reputation as intelligent birds. They require constant stimulation of their minds.


They are also considered parrots similar to those of the African Grey; there are many kinds of macaws. One is the longest macaw on the planet, The Hyacinth macaw. Parrots, including macaws, are believed to have the same levels of intelligence.
Certain macaws’ intelligence level has been linked to the human toddler. They can think through problems, utilize tools, and exhibit excellent communication skills with other birds using the sounds they make and even physical modifications, like face blushing.
A Canadian study published in 2018 proved that after analyzing 98 bird brains, there were specific differences between the sizes of a particular part of the bird’s brain. This portion of the brain of a parrot is comparable to the primate brain, which is a similarly intelligent animal responsible for facilitating communication between the cerebellum and cortex. The piriform brain is two to five times bigger than chickens. The brain’s piriform nucleus is believed to play an essential part in developing and executing complex behavior.



The cockatoo is a species of parrot that was the first bird to create musical instruments. In Australia, the palm cockatoo was observed using twigs and pods to create drumsticks, and different species of cockatoos can move to a music beat, which shows they can recognize the rhythm.
A study that was published in 2014 used Goffin Cockatoos, a tiny kind of cockatoo. The study observed their awareness of permanence in objects. 3 Object permanence is the notion that one can recognize that even if a thing isn’t in view, it’s still there. The analogy of a hidden small nut is commonly used to describe research on object permanence in birds. Solving an object permanence puzzle for human infants isn’t usually possible until 18-24 months old. To no surprise, the research found that wild Goffin cockatoos have spatial capabilities similar to humans and primates.


Also known as budgies or a common parakeet, a budgerigar is one of the most diminutive parrots (with the parrotlet being the smallest parrot). However, just because it’s tiny isn’t a reason to think that the budgie doesn’t have intelligence.
Budgies were the very first non-mammal animal species to show an understanding of human language. However, they do not put them in the same category as a seven-month-old human child. One study revealed that budgies could identify a specific pattern in irrelevant words. This shows the ability to pick out abstract patterns. This is significant because, before this study, there was no evidence that people, rats, monkeys, and other intelligent species proved they could accomplish this.


As with the other kinds of birds listed, there are numerous types of conures. All conures are parrots of different styles. Due to this, they also require plenty of stimulation and enrichment to keep their brains engaged. Many exercises, toys, and social activities are essential for conures. If it’s a Green-cheeked Jenday or Sun conure, any conure will demonstrate just how intelligent they are.