Finches Vs. Parrots as a Pet

Finches are much smaller than most parrots, and lower maintenance birds, too.
Finches are much smaller than most parrots, and lower maintenance birds, too. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If you'd like to add a bird to your family and are wondering what type you should adopt, you can't get much further apart on the spectrum than finches and parrots. Both make pleasant companions, but for different reasons. To help with your decision, find out what makes finches different from parrots as pets. Those facts will help determine which bird will better fit your expectations and lifestyle before bringing one home.

Life Expectancy

One of the most significant differences between fiches and parrots is their life expectancies. Finches can live up to 10 years if they're well cared for, and that might seem like a long time. But if you choose to adopt a parrot, be prepared to make arrangements for him in your will. Parrots can live anywhere from 11 years up to 120, depending on the species.

Diet Differences

When it comes to food, parrots' grocery lists are longer and more complicated than finches'. A finch will be satisfied with a seed mixture formulated specifically for him containing oat groats, niger seed, golden millet, flaxseed and rapeseed. He will enjoy nibbling on spray millet and you can treat him once or twice a week with a bit of hard-boiled egg, chopped up. Parrots, on the other hand, require a lot more than seed in their diet. When you've got a parrot mouth to feed, you'll find that in addition to a diet based on quality parrot pellets, he likes and requires a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts, cooked meat and will even beg for treats like graham crackers.

Attention Requirements

You wouldn't adopt any pet unless you planned on spending time with him, but when you're comparing attention requirements of finches versus parrots, the finches win out as the lower-maintenance pets by far. Mostly all you need to keep a finch happy is a spacious cage and a few canary toys. Parrots need to regularly spend time outside their cages, climbing, exploring and playing with tough, indestructible parrot toys to keep them entertained. Unlike finches who will be happy whether you interact with them or not, parrots crave your attention, and some can become quite demanding if they don't receive the amount they feel is due them. When you adopt a parrot, be prepared to schedule at least an hour a day for one-on-one playtime as well as additional time for supervised play outside of his cage.


Your finch won't need much training, unless you're interested in taming him enough to eat from your hand or perch on your finger. That kind of training isn't necessary, though, and in some cases is a practice in futility, since birds like society finches won't ever become hand-tame. Training for parrots, however, is a requirement. Taking the time to teach your parrot behaviors and tricks makes for a well-behaved bird who is mentally stimulated and challenged. It is a chance for you to bond with your parrot in addition to teaching him manners by rewarding acceptable behavior -- and that makes for a happier parrot and parrot parent, too.

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