Parakeet

Last updated: August 30, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Monk parakeets are the only parakeets that actually build nests. They’re also the only parakeets to nest in great colonies.



Parakeet Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Psittaciformes
Family
Psittacidae

Parakeet Conservation Status


Parakeet Facts

Prey
Insects, sometimes
Group Behavior
  • Swarm
Fun Fact
Monk parakeets are the only parakeets that actually build nests. They’re also the only parakeets to nest in great colonies.
Estimated Population Size
Millions
Biggest Threat
Humans
Most Distinctive Feature
Their feathers, which come in many bright colors
Other Name(s)
Budgie, budgerigar, shell parrot, flight bird, ring-necked parakeet, Quaker parakeet
Wingspan
12 to about 19 inches
Incubation Period
18 to 21 days
Diet
Omnivore
Type
Bird
Common Name
Parakeet, budgie, conure
Location
Oceania, Asia, southwest Florida, South America, central Africa, Europe
Nesting Location
Tree cavities, hollow logs, nesting box
Age of Molting
30 days to seven weeks

Parakeet Physical Characteristics

Colour
  • Grey
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • White
  • Albino
  • Green
Skin Type
Feathers
Top Speed
22 mph
Lifespan
6 to 30 years on average
Weight
1.06 to over 3 ounces
Length
3 to 16.5 inches

Parakeet Images

Click through all of our Parakeet images in the gallery.

View all of the Parakeet images!



The little Parakeet has delighted people with their intelligence, playfulness, and their plumage of fancy colors for hundreds of years. Not only that, they are easy to care for and low cost.

4 Amazing Parakeet Facts!

  • Most adult birds have few predators. The rose-ringed parakeet makes soft sounds like purrs to scare predators off.
  • It is illegal to own a monk parakeet in California, though they are sought after as pets.
  • Like chickens, a female can lay an egg without a male, but the egg is infertile.
  • The budgie is the third most popular pet behind dogs and cats.

Where To Find Parakeets

Besides the plain old local pet store, budgerigars are found in the drier habitats of Australia, while rose-ringed parakeets are found in cities and have indeed become invasive in cities such as London. These birds are also found in grasslands, farmland, forests, and wet places such as bogs and swamps. Besides Australia, they are native to South America and Asia. The now extinct Carolina parakeet with lovely green, yellow and orange plumage was one of the rare species native to the United States.

Parakeet Scientific Names

These birds belong to the family Psittacidae, which also includes Old World parrots, New World parrots such as macaws, extinct birds such as the Carolina parakeet, caiques, and parrotlets. Some of them belong to the Arinae subfamily, including the golden-plumed -, the Carolina -, the golden -, small, long-tailed parakeets including the sun -, the golden-capped -, and the nanday parakeet.

The family and subfamilies are further divided into many genera. The common budgie belongs to the Melopsittacus genera. The green-cheeked parakeet belongs to the Pyrrhura genus along with Todd’s -, the blue-throated -, and the blaze-winged parakeet. The rose-ringed parakeet is a member of the Psittacula genus along with the Mauritius -, Newton’s -, and the plum-headed parakeet.

Parakeet Appearance

These birds are basically small to medium-sized parrots. They are lithe, have long tails, and are mostly granivores. Their plumage is far from plain and often brilliantly colored in shades of green, blue, yellow, or orange. Some species have been bred to have fancy and unusual colorations, such as albino. An albino is not just a white bird but a bird that lacks the normal amount of pigmentation and often has pink eyes. Budgerigar males and females can be told apart by the color of the cere, which is the fleshy patch at the top of the upper bill. The female’s is tan, and the male’s is blue.

Three beautiful parakeets, Sun Conures, sitting on a tree branch.
Three beautiful parakeets, Sun Conures, sitting on a tree branch.

Parakeet Behavior

These birds are famous for being gregarious, affectionate, monogamous, and playful. They can form flocks of hundreds of thousands of birds that fly from their roosting areas to places where food is abundant. Many wild birds are not at all shy around humans and will perch on a human’s head or readily take food from their hands.

They are also known for producing a great variety of sounds, though they are surprisingly quiet when they are feeding. However, when they’re roosting or flying parakeets can be noisy and produce sounds such as squawks, screams, whistles, wheezes, chuckles, chirps, and chattering. Budgies are able to imitate human speech.

Parakeet Diet

These birds are granivores, which means they mostly eat seeds. They’ll also take fruits and nuts, flowers, and the occasional insect and insect larvae. On the other hand, sometimes flocks of birds can strip farmlands of crop seeds such as corn or wheat.

Parakeet Predators and Threats

These birds have surprisingly few predators. Biologists believe the reason for this is that they fly and congregate in such large flocks that predators are either confused or scared away when a bird sees them and makes an alarm call.

However, they are subject to diseases and parasites. Pet birds that are carelessly bred can inherit genetic disorders, and if they are not well cared for, the lifespan of a captive bird can be diminished. This is sometimes seen in neglected green-cheeked parakeets. These birds can live 30 years in the wild, but their lifespan in captivity is sometimes as short as 10 years.

Parakeet Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

With the exception of the monk parakeet, these birds don’t construct their own nests but use a nesting box, nests that were once used by other animals, or lay their eggs in tree cavities. Monk parakeets build a complex communal nest that acts very much like an apartment building, with each pair having its own apartment with rooms for different functions.

Most species are monogamous. Females lay between three and eight eggs per clutch. In some species such as the budgie, the female exclusively incubates the eggs while the male feeds her. In other species such as the green-cheeked parakeet, the parents take turns. Pet birds happily use a nesting box.

A baby is plain and helpless at first and must be cared for by its parents. It can take about two months for the baby to fledge, and it can take as long as two years for it to become independent, depending on the species.

Parakeet Population

The population of these birds is in the millions. The population of Melopsittacus undulatus alone is said to be 5 million birds. But the population also depends on the species. The Carolina parakeet is now extinct, and the Malherbe’s parakeet, which is found only in New Zealand, is critically endangered. There are only about 1000 of these birds left in the wild.

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Parakeet FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do parakeets migrate?

Some parakeets, such as the monk parakeet, will migrate during the winter but only if there’s not much food where they usually live. Parakeets such as budgerigars are said to be nomadic, as they will flock from one place to another with the same habitat to find better living conditions.

How many eggs does a parakeet lay?

Parakeets lay about three to eight eggs per clutch. Some species, such as the budgie can lay clutches of eggs throughout the year.

How fast does a parakeet fly?

A budgie has been known to fly at around 22 miles per hour.

What is a parakeet’s wingspan?

Wingspan is about 12 inches in the budgerigar and 19 inches in the monk parakeet.

When do parakeets leave the nest?

Generally, a baby parakeet leaves the nest between 30 and 40 days after it hatches, depending on the species.

Why shouldn't you get a parakeet?

You shouldn’t get a parakeet if you can’t devote a good amount of time to it. An example of this would be if you worked long hours and could only spare enough time to clean out the cage or change the bird’s food and water. Parakeets need to interact with their owner.

Can parakeets talk?

Budgies are famous for their ability to talk, though they don’t speak as clearly as a big parrot, and female budgies don’t speak as clearly as male budgies.

Can a parakeet be alone?

Parakeets are very gregarious, so it’s not a good idea to leave them alone for long periods. It’s a good idea to buy at least two to keep each other company. If you must leave them for long periods, have a selection of toys for them to play with. Make sure the toys are safe and do not have toxic paint or other hazards, for the parakeet is bound to chew on it.

Is a parakeet a good pet?

Parakeets make excellent pets. The price of even a fancy parakeet is not nearly as high as the price of a purebred cat or dog, though the price goes up for parakeets such as conures.

How to train a parakeet?

Parakeets can be trained with patience and treats used as reinforcement. It’s best to start training a bird when it’s very young. Let the bird sit on you and repeat a word or phrase over and over. Don’t forget the treats when the bird repeats it back!

How do you take care of a parakeet?

A parakeet’s cage must be kept scrupulously clean and its water changed daily. It must also be given the right foods, which include a variety of seeds, fruits, green leafy vegetables and occasional treats. Parakeets also benefit from being let out of their cage now and then to fly around or at least being housed in a cage large enough for them to fly around in. It’s important for the owner to give them toys to play with and lots of loving attention.

How much does a parakeet cost?

The cost of a budgerigar is between $10 and $60, but a parakeet that’s considered a conure such as the green-cheeked parakeet can cost between $150 and $500.

How can you tame a parakeet?

Clearly, parakeets are quite easy to tame and even wild parakeets are not wary of humans. Taming a parakeet involves care and patience. The bird needs to be gently spoken to, handled and given treats at least daily.

Sources
  1. Scientific American, Available here: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/critically-endangered-parakeet-population-grows-on-predator-free-island-reserve/
  2. Animal Diversity Web, Available here: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Melopsittacus_undulatus/
  3. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budgerigar
  4. Petco, Available here: https://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/caresheets/parakeet.html
  5. The Conversation, Available here: https://theconversation.com/parakeets-are-the-new-pigeons-and-theyre-on-course-for-global-domination-63244
  6. Cuteness, Available here: https://www.cuteness.com/article/natural-habitat-parakeets
  7. Lafeber Vet, Available here: https://lafeber.com/vet/basic-information-sheet-for-the-parakeet/
  8. Omlet, Available here: https://www.omlet.us/guide/parakeets/introduction_to_parakeets/
  9. Psittacology, Available here: https://www.psittacology.com/what-parrots-talk/

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