Did you know that there are more than 350 different types of parrots? There are technically three families of parrots: true parrots, or Psittacidea, cockatoos (Cacatuidae) and the Nestoridae family, which only includes a few species. Only some of these are kept as pets, of course.
All parrots share a similar physical appearance, with a curved beak and bright multicolored plumage. They also have similar diets. Many have the ability to mimic sounds or words. Despite this, parrots are very diverse, ranging from under 3 inches long to nearly 3 feet in length. True parrots are generally a bit larger in size than those falling in the cockatoo family. They all have different abilities, needs and wants that need to be considered before choosing a parrot.
When determining the right parrot species, consider the purchase cost, maintenance, food, and care food requirements, and your available space and desired noise level. Some species are better for experienced bird-keepers, while others are appropriate for a first bird. Here are a few of the most popular parrot groups:
Parrotlets are the smallest parrots; they are easily trained and have a lot of personality, though they don’t often learn more than a dozen words or so. Usually about 6 inches long, they have bright and vivid markings, make good pets, and have lots of energy.
Conures are parrots from Central and South America. These friendly birds get along well with people and other birds and have a gentle personality. Beautiful birds, the conure is intelligent and loves to interact with others. However, they can be quite loud.
Parakeets, or budgies, are among the smallest. They come in a surprising variety of colors, including yellow, green, blue, white, and violet. Bonding time with their owner can help them become more sociable.
Cockatoo species have a crest of feathers on the top of their heads which can be raised, forming a beautiful display. Most parrot species are predominantly green with other bright colors. Cockatoos are a main exception to this; having lost their green and blue colors through evolution, they are now found in many different colors.
Cockatiels are usually gray, but there are other color variations. Mature male cockatiels have black feathers and a yellow head. These intelligent creatures tend to make good pets, especially for first time owners, and are one of the easier species to breed in captivity.
Lorries and lovebirds are best kept as a pair. These small birds will constantly groom each other and will become quite lonely if you try to keep just one. These playful birds cannot mimic sounds but have sweet chirps that can be quite entertaining.
The African Grey parrot is one of the most popular species. A medium-sized parrot, experts regard it as one of the most intelligent birds. The African Grey is known for its gentle nature and ability to mimic sounds.
Macaws are a larger parrot with sharp beaks. They come in a wide array of colors, and have been nicknamed “winged rainbows.” Often when people think of a parrot, they have a macaw in mind; this is the type most often used in TV and films. There are actually 18 distinct species of macaw.
Amazon parrots are a bit larger than most macaws, and are usually green with very bright accents. They need more space and food; caring for an Amazon parrot has been compared to caring for a small child.