Budgerigar vs Parakeet: What are the Differences?

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: November 11, 2022
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The budgerigar and the parakeet are two names for similar things: small, cute birds that are often kept as pets! Different terminology is used depending on where you are from, but the budgerigar and parakeet are two different words for nearly the same thing. Today, we will compare the Budgerigar vs Parakeet and learn what makes them unique. Let’s get started.

Comparing a Budgerigar vs Parakeet

Green budgerigar parrot close up sits on cage near the mirror. Cute green budgie.
The budgerigar and parakeet aren’t actually different birds! The budgerigar is a species of parakeet.

©Vyaseleva Elena/Shutterstock.com

BudgerigarParakeet
Etymology and namingKnown as the common or shell parakeet, or simply “budgie.” Name was first recorded in 1805, although its exact origins are unknown.From the French word, perroquet. In English, the word “parakeet” usually refers to the single parakeet species, the budgerigar.
Species and subspeciesOnly member of the genus Melopsittacus, which is the only genus in the Melopsittacini tribe.Over 115 unique species. All small-sized and seed-eating.
Popularity as petsLikely the third most popular pet behind cats and dogs. Most popular out of allThird most popular pet, the budgerigar is the most popular parakeet species.
Related animalsLories and fig parrots.Parrots across multiple genera.

The 4 main differences between a Budgerigar vs Parakeet

The budgerigar is a single species of parakeet and shares similarities with all 115 species of parakeet that it is commonly grouped with.

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The difference between a budgerigar and a parakeet isn’t found in scientific fact but in the way of words and naming. In fact, there isn’t really a difference between a budgerigar and a parakeet because all budgerigars are parakeets.

To break it down, a parakeet is a commonly used descriptor for small to medium-sized parrots with long tail feathers. In total, there are around 115 species of parrot that fit the widely accepted descriptor of “parakeet,” and the budgerigar is one of them. The budgerigar is a species of parrot from Australia that has become extremely common as a pet internationally. As occasionally happens in language, the word “budgerigar” didn’t stick, and people referred to the birds as parakeets, particularly in North America and Europe.

Common names for the budgerigar include parakeet, common parakeet, shell parakeet, budgie, zebra parrot, canary parrot, scallop parrot, flight bird, and the Australian budgerigar.

Let’s explore these two words in some more detail below!

Budgerigar vs Parakeet: Etymology (meaning of the word)

Budgerigar vs Parakeet
The origin of the budgie’s name is a bit of a mystery, although there are two primary theories.

©Ondrej_Novotny_92/Shutterstock.com

The origin of budgerigar is a bit of a mystery. The first documented use appeared in 1805 when George Shaw wrote about the bird, although it was given a binomial name in 1840. Since these birds hail from Australia, many theories hold that the name is a mispronunciation of an aboriginal word, gidjirrigaa. Other theories hold that it’s a modification of an Australian slang word, boojery, meaning good, and gar, meaning cockatoo. Together, it means “good bird.”

The word parakeet comes from the french word, perroquet, although the French generally refer to them as perruches in modern times.

Budgerigar vs Parakeet: Species and subspecies

Budgerigar vs Parakeet
Budgerigars are the only members in their genus and tribe.

©iStock.com/averess

The budgerigar is a single parrot species belonging to the Melopsittacus genus. It is the only species of the Melopsittacus genus, the only genus in the Melopsittacini tribe.

As it stands, there are over 115 species that are loosely defined as parakeets. Parakeets are defined as small, seed-eating parrots that have long tapering tails.

Budgerigar vs Parakeet: Popularity as a pet

Budgerigar vs Parakeet
Parakeets, especially budgies, are some of the most popular pets in the world.

©iStock.com/urafoc

As a category, parakeets are the third most popular pets in the world, behind dogs and cats. Of the 115 species of parakeet, the budgerigar is probably the most commonly kept as a pet, especially in North America and Europe. Current estimates show that around 20.6 million birds are kept as pets in the United States alone.

Budgerigar vs Parakeet
Budgerigars are related to lories and fig parrots.

©ELAMARAN ELAA PHOTOGRAPHY/Shutterstock.com

The budgerigar and all species of parakeets are types of parrots. The closest related bird species to the budgerigar are lories and fig parrots. Lories and fig parrots are native to Australasia, just like the budgerigar.


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Budgerigar vs Parakeet
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About the Author

Colby is a freelance writer from Charlotte, North Carolina. When he isn't distracted by his backyard birdfeeder, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone around him about what he's recently learned. There's a whole world to learn about and Colby is content to spend his life learning as much as he can about it!

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