A bird can be as good for one's health as a dog, according to a pair of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Alan Beck and Dr. Aaron Katcher found caged birds can relieve their owners' stress better than a dog or a cat.

According to Better Homes and Gardens magazine, a lot of recent research already has shown a strong link between pet ownership and stress relief. With their naturally friendly dispositions, animals help us fight loneliness. What's more, people form a strong bond with their pets. Their unquestioning loyalty and love make pets easy to get along with. Even stroking a dog or cat for a few moments has been shown to significantly reduce stress.

The Beck and Katcher study revealed several possible reasons why birds are better at relieving stress than dogs or cats: Birds provide a calming visual stimulus, much as fish in an aquarium do.

More important, people seem drawn to birds' verbal talents. Many folks spend hours talking to birds and stroking them in an effort to get them to chirp or speak.