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13 Best Parrots for Families: Pictures, Facts & History

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

Macaw bird

Parrots are fascinating creatures that can mimic many sounds and voices. They make interesting and amusing pets and are a fun addition to bird-loving families. However, the decision to add a parrot to your family is one not to be taken lightly. They are a lot of work, and you must be prepared to take care of their everyday needs.

Parrots come in various sizes ranging from small to extra-large, and the size is also an important decision. For example, Macaws are extra-large parrots with enormous beaks and hurtful bites, and if you’re not comfortable handling large parrots or are unknowledgeable about them, you should opt for a smaller species. Some birds can be aggressive and destructive, and without proper training, this can be a recipe for disaster if not prepared.

There are roughly 350 parrot species worldwide 1, so how in the world do you choose a fitting parrot that is right for your family? In this article, we’ll list the best parrots for families, from small to large, in hopes of helping you make the best decision possible to avoid a potentially regretful decision later and avoid having to rehome the parrot should it not work out.

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How Are Parrots Classified?

Parrots are classified through scientific classification/taxonomy. According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, there are many types of parrot species and genera.

Here's a breakdown:
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genera and Species: There are more than 60 genera and more than 350 species

This is a basic explanation of how the classification system for birds works. The classification process is quite involved, and the process generally goes by structural qualities, historical information, and DNA.

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The 13 Best Parrots for Families 

Small Parrots

1. Parrotlet

yellow Pacific Parrotlet in the cage
Image Credit: Ear lew Boo, Shutterstock
Origin: Mexico, Caribbean Islands, South America
Lifespan: 20 to 30 years
Length: 5 inches

Parrotlets have large personalities in small bodies. They have the same personalities as an Amazon parrot but are the smallest parrots kept as pets. There are several types of parrotlets: blue-winged, green-rumped, pacific, and yellow-faced. All types of parrotlets have sassy and feisty personalities and form strong bonds with their owners. Males tend to talk more than females, and some can learn over 100 words.

These little parrots can easily learn tricks and are easy to train; however, they require daily interaction from their owners to ensure their tameness and sociability. They are quiet little birds and are suitable for apartment living. Despite their chatty vocalizations, they may be hard to understand, but they are precious little parrots to own and make excellent companions for first-time bird owners.

2. Parakeet/Budgerigar

Quaker Parakeet
Image Credit: Jean van der Meulen, Pixabay
Origin: Australia, 1805
Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
Length: 7 to 7.8 inches

Parakeets, also called budgerigars or “budgies,” are brightly colored little parrots that are an excellent choice for first-time bird owners. Hailing from Australia, these little birds do well in pairs or with multiple parakeets, and they have a quiet chirp and chatter. There are roughly 115 different species of these little birds, and all of them are vibrant in different colors.

An important aspect to know about these little birds is they may be timid around dogs and cats, and dogs and cats will likely consider them as prey due to their small size. In short, parakeet owners should be mindful of this to keep their birds safe and out of harm’s way. They do well with gentle handling and are affectionate.

3. Lovebirds

Two rosy-faced lovebirds
Image Credit: Ward Poppe, Shuttertock
Origin: Africa, 1.9 million years ago
Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
Length: 5 to 7 inches

There are nine species of lovebirds, and all of them belong to the Agapornis genus. These tiny and colorful parrots are excellent companions and are quite intelligent. Even though there are nine species of lovebirds, only three are suitable to keep as pets: black-cheeked, Fisher’s, and Nyasa. They chatter, chirp, and often mimic sound and speech.

Lovebirds are active and require exercise to stay in shape. They also require mental stimulation, and allowing your lovebirds to explore outside the cage is essential for their overall well-being. Contrary to popular belief, lovebirds do not need to come in pairs, but if you get only one, be prepared to provide your bird with social interaction and playtime with toys. If you can handle two, you’ll enjoy their interactions, as they are affectionate with each other, hence the name.

4. Cockatiel

a young cinnamon cockatiel perched on a branch
Image Credit: ONGUSHI, Shutterstock
Origin: Australia, 1770
Lifespan: 15 to 25 years
Length: 12 to 13 inches

Cockatiels are the smallest members of the cockatoo family. They were discovered in Australia in 1770 and have become one of the more popular parrots to own due to their low maintenance care and loving, fun personalities. These parrots are small in size, reaching a height of 12 to 13 inches. Still, they exhibit many features and habits of large birds without the intimidating size. They are easy to identify, with their yellow head crests and round, orange cheeks.

They became popular in the 1990s, and their friendly personalities make them an ideal choice for bird lovers who wish to own a smaller pet bird. They are gentle, affectionate, and want to be near you. Cockatiels have high intelligence and can mimic speech and sounds; however, they can be hard to understand when trying to speak. A plus is their vocalization and whistles are not as loud as other parrots, and they are playful and active.

5. Conure

Blue-crowned conure perched on a log
Image Credit: Ian Fox, Shutterstock
Origin: South America
Lifespan: 20 to 30 years
Length: 10 to 20 inches, depending on species

The Conure falls between small to medium-sized, as there are roughly 100 different species and subspecies of these amazing birds. Their vibrant colors include blue, green, orange, and yellow. They have charming personalities and love to be where the action is. These birds are inquisitive and have amazing patience with children. Ensure, though, that if you have children, you teach them to be respectful of the bird and to handle them with care.

These highly social birds are one of the more popular family birds to own. Some characteristics to be mindful of are the fact that they are bold, vocal birds and can be loud at times. They are also extremely active and require daily enrichment through toys and human interaction. These birds can learn a few words but also have a loud screech when they want attention. They can also learn tricks and love to cuddle.

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Medium-Sized Parrots

6. Quaker Parrot (Monk Parakeet)

quaker parrot perching indoors
Image Credit: V.S.Anandhakrishna, Shutterstock
Origin: Argentina, South America
Lifespan: Up to 30 years
Length: 11 to 13 inches

If you’re looking for a spunky, fun-loving, and comical bird, look no further than the Quaker parrot. Also known as the monk parakeet, these birds are typically a beautiful green with a greyish breast and greenish-yellow belly. They can mimic speech; however, not all of them talk, but if they do, they are quite the chatterboxes with extreme vocal clarity. They form strong bonds with their owners, and they are very social and inquisitive. Needless to say, life is amusing with these gorgeous, funny, and friendly birds.

If you’re interested in owning a Quaker parrot, ensure it’s legal to own in your state. Most states allow them, but there are a few that do not due to some colonies in the wild destroying crops. They are illegal in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wyoming. In New Jersey, a special permit is required.

7. Pionus Parrot

blue-headed parrot, also known as the blue-headed pionus
Image Credit: Swaroop Pixs, Shutterstock
Origin: South and Central America
Lifespan: 30+ years
Length: 10 to 12 inches

There are eight species of these parrots. A cousin of the chatty Amazon parrot, these birds are not known to be as popular with bird owners, but the reason is not due to not being good pets; they are simply quieter than most parrots and are a little standoffish. In general, they make a great family bird, as they are affectionate and sweet. However, they do not display boisterous behaviors and may not get enough attention if you have other birds that are more vocal.

Their speaking voice isn’t always clear, but they are capable of learning a vast vocabulary. These birds vary greatly in colors, with standard colors including blue and green.

8. Caique

portrait of a white bellied caique
Image Credit: Charlotte Bleijenberg, Shutterstock
Origin: South America
Lifespan: Up to 30 years
Length: 9 to 10 inches

These green and yellow birds were discovered during the turn of the 20th century, and there are two species commonly kept as pets: the black-headed caique and the white-bellied caique. They are extremely interactive and social and love to be around people. A plus with these birds is that they do not screech or scream for no reason; only when they are startled will you hear loud noises from them. Known as the clown of companion birds, they make their owners laugh with their funny antics. They are active birds, so be sure to keep plenty of toys in their cage.

These birds are not very good talkers, but their personalities make up for it in a big way. If you have other birds, keep a watchful eye on the caique, as they can be aggressive with other pet birds.

9. African Grey

african grey parrot
Image Credit: manfredrichter, Pixabay
Origin: West and Central Africa, 1758
Lifespan: 40 to 50 years
Length: Up to 13 inches

The African grey parrot is one of the more popular parrots to own and has been for centuries. These parrots excel at speech and can sound identical to a human with clarity. They are highly intelligent but can be more demanding than other parrots. They are typically one-person birds and need lots of one-on-one interaction.

They are highly sensitive birds and can become happy with a difference in their routine, as they are creatures of habit—they may pluck and chew their feathers in these situations. A prominent factor in their high demand for ownership is their exceptional talking abilities and high intelligence.

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Large Parrots

10. Amazon Parrot

yellow napped amazon parrot bird perched on a branch in costa rica
Image Credit: Jim Cumming, Shutterstock
Origin: Caribbean, Mexico, South America
Lifespan: 40 to 70 years
Length: 10 to 20 inches

It takes some research to decide if an Amazon parrot is suitable for you and your family. Despite their playful and social temperaments, they can be stubborn and fussy, especially when it’s time to clean their cage. They can be moody, and it’s up to you as the owner to become attuned to their moods and body language. If the Amazon parrot is not in the mood to be held, they may nip, especially if they’re highly excited. Types of body language showing excitement are raised head and neck feathers, pinned eyes, fanned tail feathers, and a broad stance.

These birds don’t joke around when it comes to playtime; they play hard and love to destroy their toys. Keep in mind that some male species can be aggressive compared to females, but not all. Owning one of these parrots comes down to learning their body language and understanding their current mood. They make excellent family companions as long as you learn how to deal with their sometimes-moody temperaments.

11. Cockatoo

White yellow crested Cockatoo bird on an old pirate ship
Image Credit: TPROduction, Shutterstock
Origin: Australia, Australasia, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and New Guinea
Lifespan: 20 to 50 years
Length: 12 to 24 inches

The Cockatoo is highly affectionate and popular among bird owners. There are 21 species of these fascinating birds belonging to the Cacatuidae family. They are highly social, intelligent, and emotional parrots. Some Cockatoo owners describe them as the equivalent of having a 2-year-old child, given their silliness and temper tantrums if they don’t get their way. They can speak a few phrases and words, but a drawback is their loudness during certain times of day, particularly sunrise and sunset.

Even though these birds may push boundaries and demand your attention, they are fun to own and make excellent additions to any family. They have a strong personality and presence, and they are a ton of fun.

12. Eclectus Parrot

close up male eclectus parrot bird
Image Credit: Anish Daryani, Shutterstock
Origin: Solomon Islands, Indonesia, New Guinea, northeastern Australia, and the Moluccas
Lifespan: 30 to 50 years
Length: 17 to 20 inches

The Eclectus parrot comes in a variety of sub-species and carries a stunning appearance; however, there is a significant difference in color between males and females. Males are bright green in color with a splash of blue on the wing and a bright red underwing with a bright orange beak. Females are a deep red with a violet belly and black beak.

They are gentle, calm, and intelligent, making them ideal additions to any family. They are relatively good with children, but they don’t stand for frantic and boisterous behavior. If you have children, be sure to teach them how to behave around the bird to keep the calm nature of the bird intact. They can be very vocal and can learn an extensive vocabulary. A plus is they are not noisy birds.

13. Macaw

Hyacinth Macaw
Image Credit: Erika Kirkpatrick, Shutterstock
Origin: Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico
Lifespan: 35 to 50 years
Length: 24 to 42 inches

Last but not least, we have the Macaw. Macaws are the largest parrots on our list and probably the most recognizable. If you’ve ever been around a Macaw, you know how loud they can be. Despite their large size, they are affectionate and loving. They are also playful and love to chew up their toys, especially toys made of wood.

Owning a Macaw is not for everyone due to their large personalities and loud vocalization, but they are intelligent and can make excellent family members with the right owner. They can be playful and even make a game out of lunging at you to see your reaction. This is not aggression; rather, the Macaw loves this activity as a fun activity. Macaws can learn to talk, but one thing to bear in mind is how loud their screeches can be, which can be rather startling and ear-piercing. Nonetheless, if you’re willing to educate yourself about caring for these large birds, they can make fun additions to the family.

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Deciding to own a parrot is a big responsibility. If you’re contemplating a parrot, look for parrots with naturally friendly and affectionate traits. Birds of any species can be messy, and you must be prepared to clean their cages and clean up their messes. Another important factor is that most bird species live for many years, so it’s important to ensure you’re up for the duration of their lifespans.

We hope our list of the best parrots for families helps you search for a compatible parrot to add to your family. Owning a pet parrot is fun and exciting, but you must be up for the challenge.

See Also: 

Featured Image Credit: Paul Brennan, Pixabay

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