Parrot vs Parakeet (Find Out Remarkable Differences)

Last Updated on January 20, 2024 by Ali Shahid

Parrots and parakeets are among the most loved pet birds. Parrots include over 350 species, known for their vibrant feathers, and smarts, and some can even copy human words. Compared to other parrot species, parakeets have short, pointed tails and rounder heads. Even though they share a family, these birds differ in size, lifespan, behavior, and looks.

A common misconception is that all parrots are capable of speaking. Surprisingly, parakeets, despite being smaller, can mimic human speech. Also, not all parrots are messy or noisy by nature. Taking care of them doesn’t necessarily need less attention than dogs or cats. As we explore the world of these amazing birds, we’ll clear up misunderstandings and spotlight what makes parrots and parakeets such interesting pals.

General Comparison Overview

Average SizeLarger body sizeSmaller, typically 7 to 18 inches long
Tail FeathersShorter, broader, and more squaredLong, slender, and pointed, making up about half their body length
Body ShapeDiverse across speciesMore delicate and streamlined
Beak StructureStout, with a pronounced curved upper mandibleFiner and less pronounced curvature
Color SpectrumExtensive, with many species displaying bright colorsPredominantly yellow and blue pigments, with variations like green, blue, yellow, and white
Lifespan RangeCan reach up to 95 years in some speciesGenerally 5 to 20 years
Vocal VolumeOften louderTypically quieter
Social InteractionHighly social, forms deep bonds with humans, enjoy group activitiesVery social, requires frequent interaction, can form strong bonds with owners
Speech MimicryVaries by species, some are exceptional mimicsKnown for mimicry, often with a broad vocabulary
Intelligence LevelVaries, with some species like African grays being notably intelligentHighly intelligent, trainable4
Cage Size NeedsLarger cages to accommodate size and activitySmaller enclosures are adequate but should allow for activity
Dietary PreferencesA varied diet including vegetables, fruits, and chewable itemsDiet tends to be more seed and grain-focused
Pet SuitabilityMay be better for experienced bird owners due to size and longevityOften recommended for beginners due to sociability and manageability

Physical Differences

Birds differ physically in terms of size and appearance, specifically in their tail feathers, body shape, beaks, and colors, each with its own importance.

Size and Appearance: Parakeets, also called budgerigars or budgies, belong to the parrot family but are notably smaller, ranging from about 7 inches (18 cm) to 18 inches (45 cm). Their distinctive feature is their long, pointed tail feathers, making up about half of their body length. In contrast, other parrot species have shorter, wider tail feathers.

Beak: Parrots have a sturdier beak compared to parakeets. A parrot’s beak is short and wide, with an upper mandible curving around the lower mandible, which has a sharp, upward-pointing cutting edge.

Color Variations and Significance: Color differences in both parakeets and parrots result from genetic mutations. Parakeets primarily have yellow and blue pigments, and breeders classify them based on color and variety. Common colors include green, blue, yellow, and white. Green parakeets have a yellow pigment with a structural color of blue, creating a green hue that can change based on the bird’s melanin “dark factor.” Blue parakeets, being a recessive trait, often display a purple hue. Parrots, with over 350 species, showcase diverse sizes, colors (yellows, greens, and blues), and appearances.

Color variations can also occur due to molting and genetic mutations like albinism, affecting pigment production. Understanding these physical distinctions helps us appreciate the rich diversity among these fascinating birds.

Behavioral Differences

Parrots and parakeets are social and communicative birds with remarkable mimicking abilities. They’re lively, full of energy, and possess diverse personalities, ranging from mischievous to gentle. Their emotional responses depend on species, ownership history, and training received. When given enough attention, these birds can form special bonds with their caregivers and even contribute to plant well-being through their feeding habits, acting as protectors, genetic linkers, and seed facilitators.

When it comes to vocalization, both parrots and parakeets can mimic human speech, though the extent varies between species. Parrots are known for their loud and harsh tones, while parakeets have softer, almost musical voices. This mimicry is a valuable trait, enhancing their communicative flexibility to adapt to different situations and partners.

These birds also showcase complex social behaviors. When joining a new group, a parrot uses logic to establish its rank. Monk parakeets display a sophisticated social structure with layered relationships. Parrots build strong bonds not only with their human owners but also with other non-human members of their household.

In terms of dialects, evidence suggests that parrots, particularly monk parakeets, develop distinct dialects varying across countries and cities. This highlights their exceptional vocal flexibility, allowing them to learn new sounds throughout their lives. Understanding these aspects enriches our appreciation for the social and communicative prowess of parrots and parakeets.

Lifespan and Health

Parrots and parakeets have different lifespans based on their species. African Gray Parrots can live 40 to 60 years or more, Amazon Parrots range from 25 to 75 years, and Budgerigars (Parakeets) live 5 to 18 years. Smaller birds like budgies, parakeets, and cockatiels generally live 8–15 years, while larger ones like macaws and grey parrots can live 25–50 years. Lifespans can be influenced by factors such as nutrition, veterinary care, and mental health.

In terms of diet, parrots need a mix of nutritious vegetables like carrots, peppers, dark leafy greens (such as kale), and various fruits. Limiting high-calorie foods prevents health issues like fatty liver disease. Certain foods like avocado, rhubarb, onions, garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant, chocolate, sugar, salt, and excessive fatty foods are harmful. Sprouting seeds and grains makes them more nutritious. Chewing needs can be met with dry foods and safe branches.

Parakeets have unique dietary needs, leaning towards grains and seeds. A seed-only diet lacks essential nutrients, impacting their overall well-being. Poor nutrition often leads to health problems, so understanding your bird’s specific needs is crucial. Consult your veterinarian to ensure a balanced diet tailored to your parrot’s requirements.

Choosing the Right Pet for You

Choosing the right pet involves considering factors like space requirements, activity levels, and social needs.

Space Requirements and Activity Levels: The size and activity level of a pet determine its space needs. For example, parrots need a cage at least 1.5 times their wingspan’s width in all directions. The cage should be sturdy, easy to clean, and have suitable bar spacing. Budgies, or parakeets, need an 18x18x18 inches enclosure for one and 30x18x18 inches for two. Both parrots and budgies are active and need larger cages than their size suggests.

Bonding and Social Needs: Parrots and budgies are social creatures requiring ample interaction. Budgies thrive on a balanced diet with foraging activities throughout the day. Regular socialization is vital for their happiness. Parrots, too, are socially active and engage in various relationships within their flock. They form intense pair bonds, akin to a strong connection between mates. Budgies can deeply bond with their owners, especially if acquired at a young age, but they also benefit from interaction with other budgies. Parrots are adaptable, forming relationships even with other parrots of different species in the absence of their kind. Understanding these social dynamics helps create a fulfilling environment for these feathered companions.


Parrots and parakeets, part of the same bird family, differ notably in size, lifespan, behavior, and appearance. Parrots are generally larger, with a robust beak and shorter tail feathers, while parakeets are smaller, sporting long, pointed tail feathers and a delicate beak. Both are known for vibrant colors, mainly influenced by genetic mutations.

In behavior, both share social traits and the ability to mimic human speech, varying among species. They also display complex social behaviors and can form special bonds with caregivers. Lifespan-wise, parrots generally live longer than parakeets, influenced by factors like nutrition, veterinary care, and mental health.

Choosing between a parrot and a parakeet as a pet involves considering space, activity, and social needs. Both demand significant interaction and appropriately sized cages. The decision hinges on personal preferences, lifestyle, and the commitment of time and space for the new companion. Understanding their unique needs ensures a happy and healthy life for these wonderful pets.


  • Dr. Sajjad Ali

    Dr. Sajjad is an Avian expert and loves to treat and help parrots. He has two years of clinical experience in treating and helping parrots as a vet.

    View all posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *