The 10 Most Popular Parrots Kept as Pets


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With their vibrant plumage, playful personalities, and ability in some cases to talk, it’s no wonder parrots are a popular choice for pet birds. There’s great variety among parrot species when it comes to size, talking ability, coloration and temperament. So when choosing one of these highly intelligent creatures as a lifelong companion, it helps to understand which kinds tend to have characteristics best suited for a pet.

After considering factors like temperament, talking ability, trainability and size, we’ve compiled 10 of the most popular domesticated parrot species that have earned a special spot as human friends.

Top 10 Most Popular Parrots Kept As Pets

1. Budgies

The budgerigar, better known as the “budgie,” takes first place as the most common pet parrot in the world. Native to Australia, these small, affectionate parakeets measure about 7 inches tall and weigh less than 1 ounce.

Popular for their diminutive size, quiet chatter, easy care and lower price tag than large parrot breeds, budgies can be the ideal “starter bird” for kids and seniors. Playful and active, budgies thrive when kept in pairs so they can keep each other company. Their average life span ranges 10-15 years.

While budgies aren’t the best talkers, some individuals can mimic words and sounds. Their bright green and yellow feathering makes them one of the most colorful options as well. Budgies are typically gentle, relaxed and not prone to aggressive biting like some larger parrots. All these attributes explain the budgie’s standing around the globe as many families’ first feathered family member.

2. Cockatiels

In the wilds of Australia, flocks of small gray cockatiels populate the bush. But as the second most popular pet internationally, the “tiel” has earned a place in homes worldwide thanks to a sweet, affectionate personality combined with a bit more size and vocal ability than budgies.

Weighing 3-4 ounces and reaching 12-14 inches tall, cockatiels are still petite enough not to overwhelm owners. Their crest of head feathers provides fun expression of the tiel’s shifting moods. While they’re less elaborate talkers than some parrots, many cockatiels become excellent whistlers.

Cockatiels crave lots of attention and interaction with owners. Formed in strong pair bonds in the wild, they equally enjoy close bonding with human caretakers. A cockatiel’s gentle personality and people-focused devotion is hard to resist.

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3. Conures

The rambunctious, playful nature of small to medium-sized conures has secured their ranking among favored pet birds. Ranging from about 10-30 inches long, conures comprise numerous species within the Pyrrhura and Aratinga genera of long-tailed New World parrots. Most pet conures hail from South America.

Green cheeks, suns, Jendays and gold caps are some of the most in-demand conure breeds. Beyond their affectionate personality, popularity as pets stems partly from an exuberant vocal repertoire. Conures loudly announce their presence with a mix of squawks, chirps and even subtle talking mimicking words and household sounds.

As intelligent, high energy parrots, interacting through lots of play and training activities is key to their wellbeing. Expect ear-splitting contact calls if they’re lonely. Providing steady social time and a secure sleeping nest keeps these rambunctious acrobats happy.

4. Parrotlets

Weighing barely over an ounce, parrotlets pack huge personality into a pint-sized body. Ranging from Peru to Ecuador, the numerous species of tiny long-tailed parrotlets have become increasingly popular as pets over recent decades.

The appeal lies in their miniaturization coupled with exaggerated parrot traits. They bond closely, play vigorously, vocalize loudly and chew relentlessly. Expect mischief, frequent flying antics and sticking their beak into everything. Fortunately their small beaks can’t bite painfully.

Parrotlets live 10-15 years on average. Their high-energy, comical antics through life give parrot enthusiasts a true feathered friend in a portable package. Frequent interaction is key to avoiding noise-related nuisance. For such petite avians, they know no shortage on personality.

5. Quaker Parakeets

Quakers fall into the small to mid-size parrot bracket, reaching 11-13 inches and weighing 3-4 ounces at maturity. Originally from the temperate zones of South America, they’ve become established in flocks throughout the U.S. as escaped cage birds. No longer imported, their popularity comes from captive breeding alone.

The best trait of Quakers is their exceptional talking and vocal learning skills relative to their diminutive size. Some pick up phrases of a few words with clarity or mimic household sounds like a ringing phone. Their naturally quiet temperament and cuddly personality when calm also suits them well to apartment life.

Still Quakers are prone to aggressive biting when threatened or territorial. Providing lots of toys and training rewards desired behavior. As clever vocal learners though, Quakers stay high on lists of small talking parrots to keep as cherished pets.

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6. Lovebirds

Originating from the warm woodlands of Africa, lovebirds live up to their name by forming close pair bonds lasting their whole life in the wild. Selectively bred color varieties allow lovebird enthusiasts to choose from green, blue, peach-faced and even albino species.

Their popularity comes from a pint-sized body and huge ability to shower affection on owners or bird partners. Expect to see bonded pairs preening each other’s neck and head feathers or feeding beak-to-beak for hours. They crave interaction and intimacy in relationships.

Though only reaching 5-7 inches tall, lovebirds aren’t always the most peaceful pets. Their tendency to bond strongly often makes them aggressive to other pets or family members beyond their chosen soulmate. Providing extra cages helps reduce territorial behavior.

7. Amazon Parrots

The 30+ species of short-tailed, large parrots making up the Amazon group originate from Mexico down through South America. Of diverse sizes, Amazon parrots are best known for advanced talking and thinking skills relative to their medium bulk.

Standouts like the popular yellow nape Amazon can grow to a foot tall and weigh 1-1 1⁄2 pounds. Their strong beak requires handing with ample care and training not to bite. But their talent at mimicking speech and household sounds is equally mighty.

Amazon parrots that share their owners’ home frequently learn scores of words and phrases used properly in context. Their intelligence and close bonding to caretakers imprints vocabulary and voice inflections. The payoff of living with a bonafide “feathered child” goes far in explaining Amazons’ popularity.

8. African Grey Parrots

When it comes to sheer brain power and talking talent, African Grey Parrots have no rivals. Medium-sized with bright scarlet tails contrasting their muted grey plumage, Greys of both Congo and Timneh subspecies rank among the most intelligent of all avians.

Exceptional thinking, reasoning and communication skills are key traits explaining the African Grey’s fame. An average Grey may utilize over 100 words properly plus mimic household noises like doorbells flawlessly. Alex, the famous research subject of animal psychologist Dr. Irene Pepperberg astounded scientists with measurable insight and cognition rivalling primates.

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Sadly the wild Grey’s population has declined up to 99% from habitat loss and trapping for the pet trade. Yet their outstanding capacity continues to make them revered – albeit often challenging – companion parrots.

9. Eclectus Parrots

Eclectus parrots showcase extremely unusual traits for their kind. Not only do mature males and females differ strikingly in feather hues, but they contrast in personality too. Males are emerald green with blue and orange wing markings while females shine bright scarlet with purple wing stripes.

Beyond dazzling looks, their bonding habits and vocalizations flip bird norms. Males are more quiet, relaxed and inclined to bond with owners while females tend to be louder, more emotional and demanding. This complements natural pair bonding roles for rearing chicks.

As medium-sized parrots reaching 14-18 inches in length, both sexes bond deeply to their chosen mate – human or avian. Their devotion coupled with striking sexual dichotomy helps afford eclectus parrots increasing popularity.

10. Macaws

The oversized beak with a vice-like bite may discourage some, but plenty love giant macaws for their playful nature, high intellect and bright attention-grabbing colors. These long-tailed New World species form the largest branch of the parrot family.

With formidable foot-long physiques yet juvenile behavior through life, large macaws like green wings and scarlets charm fans. Known for loud messy chewing antics, goofy acrobatics and destructive power, they also impress with mild-mannered affection towards owners.

While quite costly, their massive presence and equally sized personalities draws admiration from parrot devotees. True macaw-lovers must possess ample patience and humor for their clumsy, clown-like mischief making. Substantial space and sturdy cages are mandatory too for these powerful titans.

In the right home, big bold macaws make endearing, albeit messy, companions. Their popularity stems from commanding presence coupled with innocence of temperament and emotional openness. They think, emote and entertain like feathered four year-olds.

So those are 10 of the most appreciated pet parrots worldwide thanks to attributes like intelligence, bonding drive, talking ability or coloration. With advanced care, enrichment and training, parrots make profoundly rewarding companion animals for years. Do ample research to discover which size and species best fits your lifestyle and expectations.

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