Many teens take pride in their amazing and special pets, which are usually cats or dogs, but it's hard for me to understand why canines and feline reign supreme in the pet world.

Sure, some pets can do cool tricks, act cute or protect owners, but why have a four-legged pet when you can have a flying, majestic one? My family is a rare case when it comes to pet ownership because we have a pet bird.

Granted, I'm not saying that all pet birds are better than cats and dogs, but the types of birds typically categorized as conures are hands-down the best. Conures range in size from small to medium, and they include species like the nanday, jenday and sun conures.

The best part about conures is their behavior. Since they are light enough to rest on an owner's outstreched finger, they are less intimidating than macaws and more intelligent than parakeets. Conures also have bright feathers ranging in colors from yellow and orange to green and blue. No cat or dog could ever be as beautiful as a vibrant conure.

How, exactly, do I know so much about conures? My family has a nanday conure named Bandit, and he's been in our lives since June 1994. Yes, you read this correctly. Our parrot is 22 years old, and will live for many more years to come. Dog and cat owners lose their pets after a dozen or fewer years, but conures live much, much longer and become lifelong companions to owners. Plus, they bond to one person, so if you have a conure, it will dedicate all its affection to one person: you.

My family's conure bonded to my mom, but even so, I can feed Bandit nuts and other foods. Conures hold food with their claws and then munch with their beaks. Plus, some conures can talk, so in effect, conures are more like friends than pets.

When urged on by my mom, Bandit can laugh and say words like "hello" and "uh-oh." He rings the bell in his cage when he wants to be fed and will also ring his bell and chirp loudly if there's a visitor at the door or a car parking outside. Conures have all the great qualities pets shoud have: an ability to alert people of possible intruders and a personality that's self-sufficient and friendly. There's never a need to close Bandit's cage doors, because he is relatively calm when visitors stop by.

If you're tired of dealing with shedding pet fur, doggie walks and kitty litter, then consider getting yourself a friendly little conure to love and cuddle with on cold winter nights. There's nothing more entertaining than raising a conure because they have human-like personalities that will awe you for a lifetime.