Parrots and parakeets are commonly mistaken for each other. Even their names are sometimes used interchangeably. However, despite their similar names, there is a difference between a parakeet and a parrot.
Parrot is a broad term used to describe a species of colorful birds, whereas a parakeet is a small parrot belonging to the parrot family. Parakeets are commonly known as budgerigars. Parakeets are a lot smaller than most parrots. They also have long, thin tails, compared to a parrot’s short, square-shaped tail.
If you’re looking to discover the differences between a parakeet and a parrot, we’ve put together this guide.
Parrot And Parakeet Difference
As mentioned, parakeets are a small-to-medium-sized species of parrot. They’re also commonly known as the budgerigar or budgie, which is the most popular parakeet species kept as a pet in North American and Europe. Parakeets fall under the parrot umbrella, which is a term used to describe all psittacines of the order Psittaciformes.
Parakeets inhabit tropical and sub-tropical regions. While they are found worldwide, they’re most commonly native to Australia, New Zealand, and Central and South America. Some species are also native to Asia.
Parakeets comprise around 115 bird species with a slender build and a long, tapered tail. The tail is what defines a parakeet and makes them different from other parrot species.
They’re similar to other parrot species in that they have zygodactyl feet and a seed-based diet, but there are some differences, too. For example, larger parrots have stockier bodies and square-shaped tails. The main features of a parakeet are as follows:
- Ranging in size, measuring between 7-18” from the top of the head to the tail’s tip.
- Plumage is predominantly green, but they can also be blue and yellow.
- Eat a seed-based diet, leaving them vulnerable to vitamin A deficiencies.
- Low maintenance and easy to care for.
- As flock birds, they enjoy the company of other parakeets.
- Messy birds, especially when they eat
- Playful, curious, and intelligent birds
- Easy to train
- Can mimic up to 100 words or more
Similarly, all parrots are defined by:
- A hooked bill
- Zygodactyl feet
- Bright, colorful plumage
- The ability to mimic sounds
- Laying eggs, not live young
- Eating an omnivorous diet
Live Science confirms that birds must have a curved beak and four toes on each foot to be classified as parrots – two of which point forward and two of which point backward.
What Are The Most Common Parakeet Species?
Even though there are many different species of parakeet, they differ considerably in their appearance and temperament. If you’re wondering whether a bird is a parrot or parakeet, here are the differences and similarities:
Is A Quaker Parrot A Parrot or A Parakeet?
The Quaker parrot, referred to as Quaker parakeets and monk parakeets, is a species of parakeet.
Quaker parrots are one of the larger parakeets species, reaching 11-12 inches in length. They also tend to bite with their powerful beaks, which can be painful and hard to get out of once the parrot has tightened its grip.
Unlike most other parakeets, quaker parrots are noisy birds that enjoy the sound of their own voice. However, they live up to their parakeet name with their excellent talking skills – they’re one of the clearest-speaking parrots out there.
As a result, quaker parrots aren’t well-suited to smaller houses and apartments, as they will disturb the neighbors with their noisiness.
Quaker parrots sometimes unnerve their owners with their quaking and shaking, which gives them their name. However, this is a natural behavior exclusive to Quakers. Like other parakeets, they love human company and get depressed if left on their own for too long.
Is A Macaw Parrot A Parrot or A Parakeet?
Known as the giants of the parrot world, macaws are the largest type of parrot, but they’re more closely related to parakeets than parrots. Although, they are a separate parrot species.
While a parrot’s tail is typically proportionate to its body length, a macaw’s tail is far longer. This is what makes them similar to parakeets. Macaw parrots also feed predominantly on nuts and seeds like parakeets.
However, macaws have much larger beaks and longer tails than parakeets, which helps the bird move from tree to tree. From their head to the tip of their tail, macaws reach around 40 inches in length.
Similar to parakeets, macaws love to play with toys. However, they’re much louder birds, drawing attention to themselves with their raucous sounds. Their squawks and screeches can be ear-piercing.
They also whistle and can be taught how to mimic sounds. They enjoy imitating sounds they hear both inside and outside the home.
Is A Ringneck Parrot A Parrot or A Parakeet?
Ringneck parrots and parakeets are the same species of parrot. They’re part of the parakeet family and are also known as Indian ringneck parakeets. Because it has so many names, the species is often confused between a parrot and a parakeet.
Ringneck parakeets get their name from the black and rose rings that male parrots have around their neck.
Like many parakeets, they’re mostly bright green with blue tail feathers and yellow coloration under the wings. However, due to color mutations, some ringneck parrots are entirely yellow.
Ringneck parakeets are one of the larger birds in the parakeet family, measuring 16 inches in length.
While captive birds can be taught to speak, they have a distinctive squawking call, making them unsuitable pets for small houses and apartments. When handled properly, they can become tame like other parakeet species and make loving pets.
Is A Conure A Parrot or A Parakeet?
Conures are commonly referred to as parakeets by bird experts. Conures vary in size from small to medium, reaching between 10 to 20 inches in length. They also enjoy being around people and other birds for company, like most other parakeets.
Conures are associated with parakeets because they have long tail feathers. They’re also colorful birds, coming in a range of eye-catching colors, such as blue, green, orange, and yellow.
Conures are playful and cuddly and are known to cuddle up to their owners and climb all over them. They even mimic their movements.
When conures are startled, they let out a high-pitched screeching sound that signifies when they want attention. While their talking abilities aren’t as extensive as other parrots or parakeets, they can speak a few words and phrases.
A study published by Science Nordic discovered that orange-fronted conures could imitate the call of their flock-mates to establish contact with them. This is also how conures negotiate authority between each other.
Is A Rosella A Parrot Or A Parakeet?
Rosella parrots, otherwise known as the rosella parakeet, are part of the parakeet family. It’s a medium-sized parakeet native to eastern and south-eastern Australia, living in open forests and woodlands.
While a rosella’s tail is long, it’s broad and flat. Rosella parakeets are some of the most colorful and exotic parrot species, boasting brightly-colored plumage that commonly comes in bright red, yellow, and green. There’s also intricate detailing on the back and wings.
Unlike other parakeets, rosellas are stubborn and feisty. They also experience mood swings, where they’ll refuse to cuddle or be close to their owners. When they’re feeling bossy, the bird lets out loud sounds to proclaim its displeasure.
It also needs plenty of out-of-cage exercise time to prevent it from becoming too grumpy. Rosella parakeets are also territorial, preferring to live alone as the only bird in the cage. Experienced owners are a must when keeping one in captivity.
Can A Parrot Live with A Parakeet?
Parakeets are some of the most sociable species of parrots. In the wild, they live in large flocks. As a result, they enjoy the company of other birds, especially if their owners are out of the house often.
However, as they’re small birds, parakeets are easy to dominate, so you must choose their cage mates wisely.
Cockatiels are smaller than parakeets and, therefore, make good friends. While there’s a chance that cockatiels could get dominated by larger parakeets, they have such loving personalities that it’s rarely a problem.
To prevent in-cage fighting, provide an extra bathtub for the cockatiel to use and ensure there are plenty of toys and perches in the cage for all birds. This will prevent them from becoming territorial.
Some species of finches also make good cage mates for parakeets. Finches that are most likely to get along with parakeets include:
- Zebra finch
- Nutmeg mannikin
- Java sparrow
These finches are more sociable and enjoy living harmoniously with other birds. Avoid all other types of finch, as they can become aggressive and territorial.
Rosellas and ringneck parrots don’t do well with other parrots unless they are paired up and breeding. They can become very aggressive towards other birds, especially during the mating seasons.
Also, avoid pairing parakeets with large parrots, as smaller parakeets may become fearful of their size.
If you’re looking to house a few birds at once, parakeets are best suited with other parakeets. However, putting two female birds together isn’t the best idea, as they’re territorial.
You can house them together, but the cage needs a separator and hiding nests so that the birds can get away from each other.
If you’d prefer a more harmonious home, choosing two male parakeets provides a more peaceful experience.
Right Cage Size
Before you add parrots to your cage, you must measure it to make sure it’s big enough. To work out how many birds you can accommodate, calculate the cubic capacity by measuring the height x the width x the length.
Parakeets require 4,000 cubic inches, so this calculation is an accurate way to determine how many parakeets could comfortably sit inside. Use the parakeet’s height and size as a basis from which to calculate the room your chosen cage mate needs.
Introducing Parrots And Parakeets
If you decide to house parrots and parakeets together, you must do it gradually so that the birds don’t become fearful of each other.
New birds need to be quarantined for a couple of weeks before they’d added to the cage. This allows the bird to acclimatize to its new surroundings and keep it safe if the parakeet or parrot becomes territorial. It also reduces the risk of contagious diseases being passed around.
While the birds are separated, they will have time to get used to each other’s call, voice, and presence, making it easier for them to live with each other once they’re introduced.
Move To The Same Room
When the quarantine period is over, move your birds’ cages into the same room, allowing them to observe each other for a few days. Don’t be disheartened if the parrots don’t take to each other straight away. Check that neither is displaying aggressive behaviors.
Build Positive Associations
To help your parrots form positive associations with one another, offer them treats when they’re in the same room together. Start playing with each parrot separately but in front of each other so they can get used to the other’s behavior.
Allow Supervised Play
Eventually, you can begin to allow the parrots to share food and groom each other when they’re out of their cages and supervised by you. Playing with both birds simultaneously will help them form a bond as they realize they’re not a threat to each other.
Observe The Birds Together
This process takes lots of time and patience, but once they’ve gotten used to each other and form a flock, you can leave them together in the same cage with regular monitoring. Observe for any signs of territorial behavior and step in wherever you need to.
Some birds won’t get along. If this is the case, you’ll need to separate them and re-think the living arrangements.
Can Parakeets Eat Parrot Food?
Because parakeets are parrots, they both share a very similar diet. In the wild, parakeets are mostly seed-eaters. As already mentioned, this means they’re prone to vitamin A deficiencies. Vitamin A deficiencies cause:
- Mouth and tongue absences
- Labored breathing
- Excess oral mucus
- Poor feather and skin quality
- Nasal discharge
- Eye swelling
- Loss of appetite
- Bacterial infections
- Increased risk of hatching mortality
In captivity, like all other parrots, parrakeets should be fed a diet of pellets, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds to ensure they receive all the nutrients they need to remain healthy. Foods that are suitable for parakeets include:
What differs is the amount that parakeets should be fed. Because they’re so much smaller, their nutritional requirements vary. As a result, the smallest parakeets need ½ to one teaspoon of pellets, while larger parakeets need up to one tablespoon.
Similarly, parakeets can’t eat pellets designed for larger parrots as they’re a choking hazard. They also have trouble handling and eating them.
Vegetables are an essential part of a parrot’s and parakeet’s diet as they provide vitamins and minerals that are hard to find in other food sources.
The following vegetables are safe for parakeets to eat and are packed with several health benefits:
- Bok choy
- Brussel sprouts
- Green lettuce
- Green peas
- Mustard greens
- Raw green beans
- Sweet potatoes
You must break all vegetables into smaller chunks to make them safe for parakeets to eat.
While fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients, they should only be given as an occasional treat. Most fruits are high in natural sugars and can cause parakeets to become overweight if given too often. Safe parakeet fruits include:
Parrots love fruit, so incorporating their favorites into their diet can help keep your parrot happy.
Seeds are a staple food of parrots and parakeets, especially in the wild. They’re a good source of healthy protein and fats, but too many can lead to weight gain and obesity. As a result, they should only make up around 25% of your parakeet’s diet. Suitable seeds include:
- Millet seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Safflower seeds
- Canary seeds
While most parakeets would happily consume an all-seed diet, it’s unhealthy for them, so their seed intake must be restricted.
Do Parakeets Turn Into Parrots?
As parakeets are a type of parrot, they remain as such for their entire lives. Parakeet isn’t a term used to describe a junior parrot – they’re smaller parrots defined by their long, thin tails. Some parakeets grow to be slightly bigger, but most stay relatively small.
Parakeets and parrots are very similar, so it’s easy to see how the two become so easily confused. When attempting to tell the difference between them, look at the tails. Parakeets have distinctive tails that are long and thin, whereas parrots’ tails are squarer.