What Is the Difference Between a Parrot & a Parakeet?

i Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

The difference between a parrot and a parakeet is a lot like the difference between a commercial jet and a small propeller plane. Parrot is a broad term for a class of colorful and intelligent birds. The term parakeet refers to a small, specific member of the parrot family.

Types of Parrots

From pint-sized bundles of joy known as lovebirds to king-sized cockatoos, "parrot" is a broad term that can refer to any of several hundred subspecies including but not limited to amazons, macaws, lories, parrotlets, conures and parakeets. The parrot family includes some of the most beautiful and majestic creatures in the bird kingdom. There are many different types of parrots spanning a variety of sizes, colors and personality traits that make them popular pets for bird lovers.

Types of Parakeets

Colorful and musical by nature, parakeets make up a diverse group of small- to medium-sized parrots that are known for their long, pointed tail feathers. Some of the more commonly recognized species of parakeets include cockatiels, budgerigars and the Quaker parakeet. Parakeets have originated from an assortment of geographic locations including Australia, New Zealand, Central America, South America and exotic varieties from Asia.

Parrot Characteristics

Contrary to popular belief, the parrot family is made up of more than just cockatoos, macaws, and other large and loud members of the bird kingdom. The parrot family includes several hundred types of feathered friends that vary widely in size, appearance and temperament. Parrots are known for their beautiful and majestic color patterns, their powerful, curved beaks and the endearing mannerisms that make them wildly popular as pets. Parrots range in size from a mere 3 inches to an impressive 40 inches, depending on the type, and can live anywhere from 10 to 80 years. One thing all parrot types have in common is diversity. There are hundreds of subspecies within the parrot genus and each comes with a wide array of special features.

Parakeet Characteristics

Since good things come in small packages, it’s no wonder that parakeets are one of the top pet choices for bird enthusiasts. Ranging in size from 7 to 18 inches, parakeets are small to medium parrots with larger than life personalities. Parakeets (also called budgies) are known for their long tail feathers, rounded head, vibrant colors and spunky dispositions. These affectionate, intelligent little creatures are easy to train and will often learn to mimic sounds and words while some might even sing or whistle along to their favorite tunes.


Parrots, including parakeets, make excellent pets for bird lovers who know what they are getting themselves into. While undoubtedly beautiful and entertaining, parrots are significantly more vocal and have a variety of special needs that are sometimes more demanding than those of more traditional pets. Since they are highly intelligent and social creatures, most parrots require a certain amount of ongoing socialization and mental stimulation, which could prove to be a problem for busy pet parents who lack the time and energy that needs to be invested into properly caring for a bird. Ample and extensive research into the temperament and particular needs for each subspecies of parrot is highly recommended to anyone who is toying with the idea of adding one of these spectacular feathered friends to his or her family.

the nest