They’re beautiful, social and smart. And some of them even talk. It’s little wonder that companion birds can now be found in more than five percent of homes, making them the nation’s fourth most popular pet behind cats, dogs, and fish.

At the same time, many companion birds wind up homeless when their guardians no longer want them or are unable to care for them properly.

For more than a decade animal shelters and bird rescue organizations across the country have recognized January as Adopt a Rescued Bird Month in an effort to find homes for the thousands of pet birds that are abandoned each year.

Birds have unique personalities and some can become tame. One woman who just adopted June, a Pacific parrotlet, from Marin Humane says she’s proving to be quite social, loves attention, is curious and a fast learner — even learning how to ask for a head scratch

Companion birds can make wonderful pets for those who take the time to learn what bird care entails. According to

• Birds are active and inquisitive and must be provided with ample room to move about and play. An indoor or sheltered outdoor aviary or a flight safe room (windows covered, no cats/dogs, no ceiling fans, etc.) that will allow the bird(s) to fly is good for exercise. If provided with ample space, toys and climbing structures, birds with clipped wings can get exercise by climbing, swinging and flapping.

• Light exposure and sleep are important to birds. Birds need at least four hours exposure to UVA and UVB rays from sunlight or full-spectrum lighting to provide them with vitamin D, which promotes vitamin A absorption, critical for upper respiratory health. Birds must have a minimum of 10 hours of sleep each night.

No matter the species, birds need a well-constructed cage that’s large enough for them to stretch their wings and fly short distances. Time spent outside of the cage in a safe, enclosed room is essential for most birds, while smaller species like finches and canaries should have proper environmental stimulation in their cages. Diet should consist of high-quality, organic pellets, and fresh vegetables and fruits. Though tame, some birds such as parrots still display wild behaviors, like screaming and pulling out feathers that can catch unsuspecting bird guardians by surprise.

When most people think of pet birds, they imagine parrots or budgies, but domestic pigeons and doves make great pets, too! Good-natured and mellow, they love both their own kind and people, plus they’re easy to care for. They’re quiet, smart and social. They don’t bite, pluck or chew and are low-maintenance pets. They are masters of the leisure arts — napping, flirting, sunbathing and nest sitting. And they need homes. Domestic pigeons and doves cannot survive in the wild.

Adopting a bird is a long-term commitment. Most birds live eight years or longer, and a parrot’s life span can be 60 to 80 years. Scheduling a visit to a board-certified, avian veterinarian at least once a year is essential, especially since birds are notorious for masking their symptoms when they are sick.

If you’re interested in adopting a bird, go to or our rescue partners, and Here’s to our feathered friends!