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12 Small Parrot Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Young green parrot chick quaker on a man's hand at home

There are so many parrots in the world! Some live strictly in the wild, while others have been domesticated and live as household pets. Some are large and hardy, while others are small and dainty. Each parrot species has their own unique attributes and traits to take note of. Are you interested in getting a small parrot breed as a household pet of your own? Here are 12 options to consider.

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How Are Small Parrot Breeds Classified?

Parrots are part of the Psittaciformes order, which consists of three different families: Psittacidae, Nestoridae, and Cacatuidae. Small parrot breeds can belong to any of these families, but they all belong to the Psittaciformes order. It consists of parrots and other birds that have hooked bills, clawed feet, and muscular tongues.

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The 12 Small Parrot Breeds

1. African Lovebird

African Lovebird perched in a cage
Image Credit: Saif Sajid, Shutterstock
Origin: Africa
Lifespan: 20 years
Length: 5 – 7 inches

These small parrots are colorful, cute, and even playful. They enjoy interacting and cuddling with their human companions once they get used to doing so. It’s not uncommon for an African Lovebird to get underneath a blanket with you on a rainy day and snuggle the day away.

They can become protective over their cage mates and their human companions, which can lead to aggression when others try to get nearby. The aggression typically manifests in a small nip. Socialization at a young age and setting boundaries can help keep their protective nature under control.


2. Senegal Parrot

Senegal Parrots
Image Credit: Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock
Origin: Africa
Lifespan: 25 – 50+ years
Length: 9 – 10 inches

What’s unique about the Senegal Parrot is their steely, intense eyes and dark-colored head. They may seem intimidating, but they’re really outdoing, friendly birds that have been known for being sweet to their human companions. They tend to get attached to their companions and would prefer sitting on someone’s shoulder than in a cage.

As pets, these birds can live up to an astounding 50 years, so they’re a long-term commitment that requires a great deal of forward thinking and planning. They’re more suited as pets for adults than for children because they do tend to get stubborn and nippy.


3. Timneh African Grey

Timneh African Grey
Image Credit: tristan tan, Shutterstock
Origin: West Africa
Lifespan: 15 – 70 years
Length: 11 – 13 inches

This parrot breed comes in a variety of different colors, including gray, red, blue, and albino. The average Timneh African Grey parrot has a knack for learning how to speak words. Training them to talk from a young age can produce a true conversationalist parrot before long.

Rarely will a Timneh African Grey parrot bite (that’s reserved for perceived serious threats), but when they do, their hard beaks can leave a painful mark. Therefore, they should be socialized while still young and should only be handled by those the bird is used to being around.


4. Brazilian Parrotlet

Brazilian Parrotlet on a tree stump
Image Credit: Cyro Henrique, Shutterstock
Origin: Brazil
Lifespan: 15 – 20 years
Length: 4.5 – 5 inches

These birds have a personality that is just as colorful as their appearance. They’re smart, playful, and quick learners. The Brazilian Parrotlets have a wide vocal range, but they usually use a high-pitched voice when communicating with words. They can be kept in groups because they generally get along with other parrotlets.

Brazilian Parrotlets can be hand-fed from an early age to create a strong bond and ensure sociability as time goes on. They are not “talkative,” so they won’t disrupt the household often. However, they can learn to mimic several words to make interacting with them fun.


5. Sun Conure

sun conure perching
Image Credit: Rutpratheep Nilpechr, Pixabay
Origin: Northeastern region of South America
Lifespan: 20 years
Length: 11 – 12 inches

The brightly colored Sun Conure is known for their amusing personality and playful disposition. Like most parrots, Sun Conures are affectionate and cuddly, but they go further and tend to become deeply loyal companions to the humans who spend time with them.

This vocal species likes to “scream” at times. They might be loud but they aren’t great talkers, though they can learn to say a few words. The shrillness of their voice can get annoying, so those who appreciate quietness around the house might want to choose a different type of small parrot breed instead.


6. Quaker Parrot

quaker parrot perching indoors
Image Credit: V.S.Anandhakrishna, Shutterstock
Origin: Areas in South America, including Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay
Lifespan: 20 – 30 years
Length: 10 – 11 inches

There is a reason that the Quaker Parrot is named as such, which is that they tend to bob their heads and “quake” their bodies, which can look disturbing to those who aren’t aware of the behavior.

These social birds require regular interaction with their companions. They can quickly become depressed and even neurotic if they are left to keep themselves company too long or too often. This is a quiet bird in general, but when they do make noise, it can easily wake someone up from a deep sleep. Quaker Parrots are also banned in certain states.


7. Meyer’s Parrot

Meyer’s Parrot in a cage
Image Credit: Alexandr Junek Imaging, Shutterstock
Origin: Woodlands of Africa
Lifespan: 20 – 25 years
Length: 8 – 9 inches

If you’re looking for a quiet small parrot breed to keep as a pet, the Meyer’s Parrot might be the one for you. These birds are known for simply going with the flow when it comes to how their days are structured. They would be happy perching all day while nibbling on a favorite toy to pass their time.

They aren’t as affectionate or cuddly as many other parrot breeds on this list, but they do like being scratched on the head. These birds are not known for being “nippy,” but they will bite if they are feeling provoked. They aren’t popular for their talking abilities, so if you’re looking for a communicative companion, this might not be the right bird for you.


8. Half-Moon Conure

Half-Moon Conure
Image Credit: Martin Pelanek, Shutterstock
Origin: Costa Rica and Mexico
Lifespan: 25 – 30 years
Length: 9 – 10 inches

This boisterous small parrot breed is often sought after as a household pet because they tend to be easily trained and extremely friendly with their human companions. They also happen to be quieter and less disruptive than many other parrot breeds out there.

These little birds do have a great deal of energy and like interacting with people and toys when the opportunity arises. They also enjoy the company of other parrots, though they should have their own personal cage habitats. Half-Moon Conures can learn how to do tricks too!


9. Brown-Throated Conure

Brown-throated conure sitting on a log
Image Credit: Susan Flashman, Shutterstock
Origin: the Neotropics, which include the countries of Panama, Venezuela, and the Dutch Caribbean
Lifespan: 25 years
Length: 9 – 10 inches

The Brown-Throated Conure can make for a great apartment pet because they tend to remain silent unless they are interacting with their human companions. Their natural calls are harmonious and easy on the ear. That said, these birds will become a noise nuisance if they are neglected, bored, and/or lonely.

These parrots have fun personalities and are known for their “goofy” behavior. They’re likely to turn any object near them into a toy. They love to cuddle and get scratched while hanging out with their companions. They are generally good with kids, which makes them suitable pets for families of all shapes and sizes.


10. Hahn’s Macaw

Hanh's Macaw outside the house
Image Credit: Jida Xu, Shutterstock
Origin: South America
Lifespan: 30+ years
Length: 11 – 12 inches

This is considered a miniature macaw because of their dainty size, but their personality is just as big as any of the other macaws in existence. This smart parrot breed tends to learn vocalizations quickly, even if they are not intentionally trained to do so.

The average Hahn’s Macaw is sweet-tempered when socialized from a young age. However, they can become aggressive when they feel threatened or provoked, so they should always be supervised when they are being handled by children. These are noisy birds, so they are not suitable for apartment living.


11. Blue-Headed Pionus Parrot

blue-headed parrot, also known as the blue-headed pionus
Image Credit: Swaroop Pixs, Shutterstock
Origin: Central and South America
Lifespan: 40 years
Length: 11 – 12 inches

The Blue-Headed Pionus Parrot has a reputation for being independent, so they don’t mind spending time at home alone. However, they do create deep bonds with their human companions, and they love being handled and scratched during interactions. They’re always down to play a game or keep themselves entertained with any toys that are nearby.

These birds generally have easygoing personalities, and they are not prone to nipping or biting, which makes them suitable pets for families with children. This parrot breed is quiet by nature, so they can live in both house and apartment environments without concern.


12. Crimson-Bellied Parakeet

Crimson-bellied Parakeet perched on a branch
Image Credit: gergosz, Shutterstock
Origin: The Amazon Basin in Bolivia and Brazil
Lifespan: 20 years
Length: 9 – 10 inches

With a bright crimson chest and gorgeous green feathers, the Crimson-Bellied Parakeet is active, friendly, and curious in general. Thought to be one of the quietest conures out there, these birds can happily enjoy apartment life without causing problems with the neighbors.

They do tend to get vocal when they’re excited to see their companions come home, but the noise is low and doesn’t last long. These docile animals love spending time with people and enjoy taking baths, which is a great activity for them to engage in with children.

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Conclusion

With a dozen small parrot breeds to choose from, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that would be a perfect companion for you and your household. However, while parrots in general are legal to have as pets in the United States, specific species, like the Quaker parrot, are banned in certain states. Also, you must only get your bird from proper breeders within the country, as most wild-caught birds are illegal (and endangered!). Even if you aren’t interested in obtaining a parrot as a pet, now you know more about some of the most popular bird pet breeds around the world!


Featured Image Credit: VH-studio, Shutterstock

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