Pet Birds "By The Numbers" - - - by Liz Davies (aka "Mom")


Our local newspaper's classified advertisement section includes ads placed by people wanting to sell pets.  There is a special "cats" section and a special "dogs" section.  Following those is a "Other Pets" section where other types of animals (including birds) are advertised for sale.  Occasionally there are ads from local breeders, but normally the birds advertised are pet birds being sold by their (non-breeder) owners.

In the 12-month period beginning March of 2005 and ending February 2006, I collected the ads in the weekend paper and put them into a Microsoft Access database so that I could generate analytical reports on them and see what trends would pop out of the data. 

I included both ads for pets and from breeders in the data as long as specific species were identified in the ad. 

In reviewing these numbers, it will be helpful to keep in mind the population Columbus, Ohio (the area served by the newspaper).  I checked the web for census figures and found that at the time of my study, Columbus was ranked the 15th largest US city, with a population of just over 700,000.  

What Was Sold?

Count Birds By Type
Total Offered for Sale Type
1 Caique
1 Dove
1 Eclectus
1 Senegal
1 Society
1 Zebra
2 Lorikeet
2 Pionus
3 Indian Ring Neck
3 Quaker
4 Love Bird
8 Amazon
8 Conure
10 African Grey
12 Cockatiel
12 Macaw
13 Cockatoo
The table shown here gives the total number of birds offered for sale during the period. 

One surprising thing is the absence of canaries from the data.  Zebra finches and society finches were advertised (by a breeder who had several birds mentioned in one ad), but canaries never appeared for sale in the paper.

How Old Were the Advertised Birds?

Average Age of Birds Sold
Type Number of birds with ages given Average age (years) Youngest Age Given Oldest Age Given
Indian Ring Neck 2 .75 .5 1.0
Lorikeet 2 1.00 1.0 1.0
Love Bird 1 1.00 1.0 1.0
Cockatiel 4 2.00 2.0 2.0
Conure 2 2.05 .1 4.0
Macaw 9 3.18 .6 5.0
African Grey 6 3.53 .6 8.0
Cockatoo 7 4.86 1.0 8.0
Amazon 4 5.50 5.0 7.0
Not all the advertisements specified the age of the birds being sold, but some did.  I extracted the ads with ages included and calculated the average age.

Note the ages on the larger birds (the 4 highlighted at the bottom here).  Macaws, african greys, cockatoos, and amazons account for 43 of the 83 birds advertised during the study period.  Of that 43, only 26 had ages specified, but what comes to mind looking at the average here is the age of sexual maturity - when a parrot's behavior is apt to change.

Birds with cages (probably not breeder sold)

How Many Birds Were Sold With Their Cages?
Type Count
Indian Ring Neck 1
Love Bird 1
Quaker 1
Lorikeet 2
Pionus 2
Conure 5
Cockatiel 6
Amazon 8
African Grey 10
Macaw 10
Cockatoo 12
It's unlikely that a breeder would advertise birds with cages, so I did a cross check to see how many of the advertisements included the cage.  As you can see, with the larger birds, the cage is almost always mentioned.  I take this as an indicator that the bird in question is someone's pet, not a baby being offered by a breeder.

Do they talk?  Are they well socialized?

Birds That Talk
Type Count
Conure 1
Quaker 1
Cockatoo 2
Amazon 4
African Grey 5
Macaw 7
Some ads specifically mentioned that the birds talk.
Friendly Birds
Type Count
African Grey 1
Caique 1
Cockatiel 1
Conure 1
Macaw 1
Cockatoo 5
Some ads mentioned "friendly" and some "tame".  Notice that cockatoos were identified as "friendly" far more often than the others.  This makes sense, since cockatoos are very "flock oriented" - so much so that they can become a problem because they demand so much attention.
Tame Birds
Type Count
Amazon 1
Caique 1
Quaker 1
Cockatiel 2
Lorikeet 2
Macaw 2
Cockatoo 3
Being "tame" and "friendly" could mean the same thing to many people.  Only 2 cockatoos, one cockatiel, and one caique were named as both "tame and friendly".  It's also possible that "tame" means that someone (maybe only one person in the family) can handle them, whereas "friendly" might mean the bird can be handled by more than one person.

With the larger birds commanding prices of $1,000 or more, it's interesting to note that being tame or friendly were so seldom mentioned.  This suggests that those larger birds have not been well socialized and may, in fact, be displaying behavior problems.


The total number of individual birds advertised for sale during the study period was 83.  43 of those were "large parrots" (amazon, african grey, macaw, cockatoo).

I am surprised at the small number of birds advertised, given the population size and the large number of birds that I have seen for sale in local pet stores.  Quite frankly, I expected to see more birds listed in the paper. 

The numbers indicate that large parrots, especially around the age of sexual maturity, become a problem for many people.  This is something that the "parrot-owning" community has known for quite a long time; that cuddly baby in the pet store too often ends up in the home of someone who doesn't understand what they are getting into.