WHAT KIND OF BIRD IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Any bird that you bring home can (1) bring you a lot of joy or (2) can mean a lot of misery for both you and the bird. You have GOT to make sure that you buy the right bird for your personality AND your lifestyle. If you live in an apartment, a large macaw or large cockatoo may not be right for you. Even if you live on 5 acres, though, if you don't spend much time at home, these beautiful but demanding birds may not be right for you either. A cockatoo would be right for someone who is NOT sensitive to noise, whose first priority in life is NOT a spotless home, someone who is at home a LOT and someone who loves a loyal and constant companion such as a cockatoo, and derives pleasure from interacting with them. Such a bird is NOT right for you, if you are working full-time AND have a busy social life outside your home.
If you are working and still would like to have a demanding bird such as a cockatoo, you have got to give your bird a wonderful playground, lots of toys, lots of entertainment, lots of distractions -- a huge cage, right by a window where it can check out the wildlife. And you better make sure that at the VERY LEAST the evenings are spent with your companion bird.
I really like cockatoos myself and hope that one day, once my own schedule is somewhat reduced, I will be able to accommodate one as a pet. At the moment I breed a couple of goffins cockatoos and they are a pure joy to me (one is still tame!). If your heart is still set on a too or a macaws, go for one of the smaller ones -- the noise and destructive factor is USUALLY somewhat reduced ;-)
But small doesn't always mean "quieter" -- some of the small conures have MIGHTY voices that can wake up the dead ;-) ... Even though they can be beautiful and very entertaining, you may want to consider your own (and your family's) sensitivity to noise before considering most species of conures ...
The birds I recommend for apartment living: (in no particular order)
1. African Grays (Timney, Congo)
2. Senegals (heard nothing but good about those little guys)
3. Green Cheek Conures (in general less noisy -- and delightful little clowns they are)
4. Goffins / Bare-Eyed Cockatoos (prepare to fall in love)
5. Pionus (birds that are well worth your consideration -- not very noisy & lots of fun)
6. Mini-Macaws (easier to handle than their big cousins, but can be quite noisy)
7. Amboina King Parrots (GORGEOUS and not noisy at all)
Personalities vary greatly, and once decided on a particular species, you should strive to find one with the personality that suits you.
If you have other recommendations of birds that are suited for apartment dwellers, I would like to know about it. There are so many beautiful birds out there, only a few came into my mind.