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21 Types of Parrots: Pictures, Info & History

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

sun conure on the ground

There are approximately 400 species of parrots in the world, ranging from the parakeet to the Hyacinth macaw. Some, like parakeets and cockatiels, are considered excellent pet species, even for beginners, while macaws and some cockatoos are considered difficult pets. With so many species to choose from, it can be overwhelmingly difficult to find the perfect pet parrot species.

Below, we have listed 21 types of parrots to help you determine which is the right bird for you.

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How Are Parrots Classified?

To be considered a parrot, a bird must have a curved beak and have zygodactyl feet with two of their four toes facing away from them and the other two facing away.

The hooked beak is used like an extra foot or a hand, and many parrots will use the beak to hold and manipulate items. They will even grab branches with it to aid with balance.

The 21 Types of Parrots

1. Parrotlet

parrotlet pied blue turquoise color perched on a branch
Image Credit: Sarawut Limsuwan, Shutterstock
Origin: South America and Mexico
Lifespan: 15 – 20 Years
Size: 3 – 6 Inches

Typically measuring around 4 or 5 inches, the parrotlet is one of the smallest parrot species. But, despite its small size, it has a lot of character. These sociable birds form close bonds with their humans, typically bonding with one particular owner over others.

It is a quiet bird, which makes it a popular choice as a pet, and there is a good variety of colors and patterns available. Its popularity also means that the parrotlet is readily available from breeders. They’re intelligent and they can talk but they will need plenty of cage space as well as attention from their owners.


2. Lovebird

Peach-Faced Lovebird
Image Credit: Tracy Starr, Shutterstock
Origin: Africa
Lifespan: 5 – 15 Years
Size: 5 – 7 Inches

The lovebird is another small parrot species, typically growing to around 6 inches. Like most parrots, they are sociable, and they will need to be able to spend lots of time with a companion. Although it is common to see lovebirds in pairs, they can live alone as long as you provide your bird with lots of attention.

They are intelligent and can be taught a couple of tricks, but while lovebirds do have the capability to talk, it is unusual for this species to mimic more than one or two words, and even this may not happen for you and your lovebird.


3. Bourke’s Parakeet

bourke’s parakeet bird perching on tree branch
Image Credit: Irina N, Shutterstock
Origin: Australia
Lifespan: 10 – 15 Years
Size: 7 – 8 Inches

The Bourke’s parakeet is a species of parakeet that will grow to around 8 inches and is considered a peaceful and relatively quiet parrot species. It will sing and has a beautiful voice but won’t make excessively loud noises unless scared. When scared, the Bourke’s parakeet can make very high-pitched and loud shrieking noises.

They can live with other birds like cockatiels and other parakeets. Although the Bourke’s parakeet can entertain itself, it will also form a close bond with its humans.


4. Senegal Parrot

Senegal Parrots
Image Credit: Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock
Origin: Africa
Lifespan: 30 – 50 Years
Size: 7 – 12 Inches

The Senegal parrot is generally smaller than the likes of the African grey, although some do grow to a similar size. The species is considered quiet and can be a little timid at first. You will need to provide a lot of socialization to ensure that a Senegal parrot is comfortable around other people. This means gradual introductions and, once the Senegal is used to your company, you can introduce new people.

Because this species is quieter than a lot of other parrots, it is a good choice for those who live in apartments in close proximity to their neighbors.


5. Caique Parrot

portrait of a white bellied caique
Image Credit: Charlotte Bleijenberg, Shutterstock
Origin: South America
Lifespan: 20 – 30 Years
Size: 9 – 10 Inches

The caique parrot is a popular choice with bird owners because it is lively and playful. While this does mean that owners have to provide lots of enrichment and playtime, it also makes the caique parrot a great companion. It is capable of mimicking human speech, but this is another species that rarely does so.

The caique is intelligent. It can learn tricks and commands quickly and thrives when given tasks or activities to complete.


6. Conure

sun conure perching
Image Credit: Rutpratheep Nilpechr, Pixabay
Origin: South America
Lifespan: 10 – 25 Years
Size: 10 – 12 Inches

The conure is small to medium in size and typically very colorful. The two most popular species are the Green-cheeked and the Sun conure, both of which make great pets for owners with time and inclination.

This lively parrot does need a lot of attention, but it is intelligent, and it can pick up words and phrases while also mimicking other sounds around the house. It can also be taught tricks and to respond to commands.


7. Parakeet

Colorful parakeets resting on tree branch
Image Credit: Pe3k, Shutterstock
Origin: Africa
Lifespan: 7 – 15 Years
Size: 10 – 12 Inches

Parakeets, which are commonly known as budgerigars or budgies outside the U.S., are small and relatively easy to care for. They are vibrantly colored birds, can develop an extensive vocabulary of human words, and are excellent at mimicking the sounds of alarm clocks, phones, and even TV theme tunes.

These sociable birds do need company and they will usually thrive if kept in groups of at least two. Fortunately, their popularity and social requirements mean that they are among the most inexpensive parrot species you can buy.


8. Pionus Parrot

blue-headed parrot, also known as the blue-headed pionus
Image Credit: Swaroop Pixs, Shutterstock
Origin: Mexico, Central and South America
Lifespan: 20 – 30 Years
Size: 10 – 12 Inches

The vibrantly colored pionus parrot is considered a good choice for a family pet because it tends to be quieter than a lot of other species. However, once it gets to know its family and settles in, it will come out of its shell and become a fun member of the family.

Pionus parrots can learn some human words, and may learn a handful of tricks, but has gained popularity because of the stunning array of colors.


9. Quaker Parakeet

close up of two quaker parakeet birds
Image Credit: Sravudh Snidvongs, Shutterstock
Origin: South America
Lifespan: 20 – 30 Years
Size: 10 – 12 Inches

The quaker parakeet, also sometimes known as the monk parakeet, measures around 12 inches in length, from the tip of the tail to the top of the head. It is a sociable bird that needs attention but will repay this attention with its fun-loving, adventurous nature.

However, the quaker is a quiet bird which means it is another good option for those living in apartments and who don’t want to annoy their neighbors with a loud, squawking parrot.


10. Meyer’s Parrot

drinking Meyer's Parrot
Image Credit: Villiers Steyn, Shutterstock
Origin: Africa
Lifespan: 20 – 30 Years
Size: 9 – 13 Inches

Also called the brown parrot, the Meyer’s parrot is distinctive for its brown wings and head. It also has a bright green-colored body and makes a good pet parrot species because it is sweet-natured and forms a close bond with its human family. It enjoys watching and weighing up the situation rather than getting directly involved in any activities.

This species can learn to mimic some human words and other noises, but because it is a quieter bird, it is less likely to talk than some of the more raucous species.


11. Timneh Grey

Timneh African Grey
Image Credit: tristan tan, Shutterstock
Origin: Africa
Lifespan: 40 – 60 Years
Size: 10 – 12 Inches

The Timneh grey parrot is actually a subspecies of the well-known African grey parrot. It tends to be slightly smaller, although not by much, and they have a maroon-colored tail that the African grey doesn’t have. They are intelligent birds, and they demand attention, but this also means that the species is one of the more likely to talk.

Although they do not have as loud a voice as some parrots, Timneh greys do need interaction with their human family and they thrive when given tasks to perform.


12. African Grey

african grey parrot
Image Credit: manfredrichter, Pixabay
Origin: Africa
Lifespan: 6 – 80 Years
Size: 12 Inches

The African grey is one of the best-known of the parrot species. It is a medium-sized parrot that has a gray body with a red tail. It is a popular parrot species because it is very intelligent: many African greys learn to talk, and they can be taught commands and tricks.

However, this is one of the most demanding species so potential owners need to be sure they can dedicate a lot of time to their bird before opting for this breed. They will also need a large cage and should be given lots of toys and other forms of enrichment.


13. Cockatiel

Blue Cockatiel
Image Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH, Shutterstock
Origin: Australia
Lifespan: 12–15 Years
Size: 12 – 13 Inches

Cockatiels are the smallest member of the cockatoo family, as well as being much less demanding than most of their cousins. They are considered good birds for first-time owners because although they are low maintenance, they are also very sociable birds so they take well to handling and can form a very close relationship with their owners.

If you want to train a cockatiel to speak, spend as much time as possible with the bird, and be sure to keep repeating the words that you want them to speak. Not all cockatiels will speak, but most will imitate some noises they hear.


14. Eclectus Parrot

close up male eclectus parrot bird
Image Credit: Anish Daryani, Shutterstock
Origin: Oceania
Lifespan: 30 – 50 Years
Size: 12 – 14 Inches

Eclectus parrots are beautiful to look at. They are sexually dimorphic, which means the two genders look different. The male has a bright green body with an orange beak and some bright dashes of red and blue color while the female has plumage consisting of red, blue, and purple.

They can make excellent pets but only if you have plenty of time to interact with them. Eclectus parrots need a lot of attention.


15. Amazon Parrot

yellow napped amazon parrot bird perched on a branch in costa rica
Image Credit: Jim Cumming, Shutterstock
Origin: Mexico
Lifespan: 40 – 60 Years
Size: 12 – 14 Inches

Amazon parrots make great pets, especially for experienced owners who have plenty of time to dedicate to their birds. The species is very intelligent and needs activities and games to keep it busy. It also needs interaction: in fact, the Amazon parrot is considered one of the most demanding of the parrot species.

Because of this demand for attention and interactivity, though, the Amazon parrot is also known for forming close bonds with its humans.


16. Mealy Parrot

A Mealy Amazon Parrot waiting for food to be ready
Image Credit: Syamoes, Shutterstock
Origin: Central and South America
Lifespan: 60 – 80 Years
Size: 14 – 17 Inches

Potential owners looking for a talkative parrot species should consider the mealy parrot. Although it tends to be a quiet bird, it can have loud moments, especially at dawn and dusk, and the species is considered one of those most likely to learn to talk.

The sociable mealy requires plenty of attention but they are peaceful and gentle birds that make good pets for families as well as individuals.


17. Umbrella Cockatoo

Umbrella Cockatoo
Image Credit: Nigel Dowsett, Shutterstock
Origin: Indonesia
Lifespan: 40 – 60 Years
Size: 15 – 18 Inches

The umbrella cockatoo can make an excellent pet, but it can also be argumentative and even belligerent. Some owners will tell you that its mood can swing in an instant. Therefore, you will need to set boundaries and spend a lot of time working with the umbrella cockatoo to ensure the best relationship, but with a lifespan of 50 years or more, time with the cockatoo is something you won’t be short of.

The umbrella cockatoo does need a big, strong cage, and you also need to be able to provide plenty of activities and enrichment for this species.


18. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo with toy
Image Credit: sandid, Pixabay
Origin: Oceania
Lifespan: 50 – 70 Years
Size: 17 – 22 Inches

Sulphur-crested cockatoos are typically even bigger than umbrellas and they have similar temperaments, so you should expect to spend time on socialization and setting rules.

The species is considered suitable for experienced keepers but may not get along with children who are always trying to stroke and pet them.


19. Burrowing Parrot

a burrowing parrot perched on a piece of wood
Image Credit: Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock
Origin: South America
Lifespan: 20 – 30 Years
Size: 18 – 20 Inches

Burrowing parrots can grow to around 18 inches. They are known for being affectionate, especially if you get one from a chick and spend a lot of time bonding with it. It is also quite a calm and peaceful species, but once they do form a bond, the burrowing parrot, or Patagonian conure, can be fun-loving and entertaining.

The burrowing parrot is a very sociable bird, so if you intend to keep one on its own without the company of other birds, you should be prepared to spend a lot of time with it.


20. Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw
Image Credit: Angel DiBilio, Shutterstock
Origin: Central and South America
Lifespan: 50 – 80 Years
Size: 30 – 35 Inches

Macaws are large parrots that typically come from rainforest regions, and they are the stereotypical image many of us have of parrots. The scarlet macaw is notable for its scarlet feathers and yellow and blue coloring.

These large birds do require a lot of attention and plenty of space, and they can become grumpy, unruly, and difficult to live with if they don’t get the attention they demand.


21. Hyacinth Macaw

Hyacinth Macaw
Image Credit: Erika Kirkpatrick, Shutterstock
Origin: South America
Lifespan: 30 – 50 Years
Size: 3 – 3.5 Feet

The hyacinth macaw is a massive bird, potentially growing to 3.5 feet from tail to head. Unlike the scarlet macaw, though, they tend to be peaceful and gentle. But, they are also sensitive birds and they can suffer if they don’t have a peaceful and interactive environment in which to live.

Their lifespan of up to 50 years makes them a good choice for a pet bird but you will need a lot of room to keep a hyacinth macaw.

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Conclusion

Parrots can make excellent pets for the right owners, but most species are not the types of pets that you can just leave to their own devices all day long. They need time out of the cage and plenty of enrichment, and you need to spend time bonding with and socializing the birds.

Above are 21 types of parrots, some of which are considered excellent for first-time keepers and others that are best for experienced owners with a lot of time to dedicate to raising a well-adjusted, friendly bird.


Featured Image Credit: Rutpratheep Nilpechr, Pixabay

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