Differences Between Parrots & Parakeets

Parakeets are just one species of parrot.
Parakeets are just one species of parrot. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

The primary difference between parrots and parakeets is that the term parrot refers to a broad order of birds, while the term parakeet refers to a species within the parrot order. Parrot may also refer to a few species of parrot within the broader order. While there are varieties of parakeet, there are fewer differences between varieties of parakeet than between species of parrot.

Types of Parrots

The parrot order includes more than 350 species of birds, including Macaws, Amazons, lorikeets, lovebirds, cockatoos and parakeets. Many of these birds are commonly kept as pets, but many more live in the wild. There are also a number of bird species within the parrot order called parrots, including African grays, green parrots, Amazon and Senegal parrots, all of which are popular pets.

Types of Parakeet

There are 120 species of parakeet within the parakeet subfamily of parrots, and even more subspecies. Many parakeet species live in the wild in Australia, Asia and South America. A few species of domesticated parakeets have even escaped to live in the wild in North America. Common species kept as pets include the budgerigar, the cockatiel and the monk parakeet.

Characteristics of Parrots

All parrots, including parakeets, have curved beaks and four toes on each foot. Parrots can grow up to 40 inches in length. Most parrots eat fruit, flowers, buds, nuts, seeds and even insects. Parrots come in a variety of colors. Most parrots are very musical, and many can learn to imitate human vocalizations. Parrots typically have stocky bodies and square tail feathers, especially notable in comparison to parakeets.

Characteristics of Parakeets

Parakeets are smaller than most other parrots, usually 7 to 18 inches in length from head to tail. Parakeets usually have long, tapered tails, while parrots have stockier bodies and more square tail feathers. Usually yellow-green in color, parakeets can be bred to look blue, white, yellow or green. Parakeets are flock birds, so they can be harder to tame than their larger, more independent cousins.

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