14 Dazzling Types of Parrots

Bright and bold, these unique parrots are as quirky as they are colorful.

Rainbow Lorikeet
Steve Daggar Photography / Getty Images

More than 350 species of birds fall within the order Psittaciformes, including macaws, lorikeets, cockatoos, and many other types of parrots—each with its own unique qualities. Parrots vary greatly in height and size, and, like people, they are omnivores, living on both meat and plants. In the wild, some parrots can live up to 80 years.

While they can be very different from one another, parrots do share specific traits, like curved beaks, two forward- and two backward-pointing toes, and a preference for warm climates. Certain parrot species are popular pets, and while some are still common in the wild, more and more parrot species are becoming endangered—largely as a result of human interference. This is all the more reason to stop and take notice of these fantastic creatures.

Here are 14 of the boldest, most colorful parrots you've seen, as well as a few fun facts about each.

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Scarlet Macaw

Close-Up Of Scarlet Macaw Flying In Mid-Air
Rüdiger Katterwe / EyeEm / Getty Images

The name macaw (Macao) refers to a family of at least 17 species of Central and South American parrots. Macaws are the largest of all parrots, ranging from one to three feet tall. Their feathers are a parade of brilliant colors, whether it is the bright blue hyacinth macaw to the gorgeous red, yellow, and blue scarlet macaw. Scarlet macaws are bright and sociable, which makes them popular pets; unfortunately, their popularity with humans, as well as habitat degradation, has contributed to certain species' statuses as endangered and threatened.

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Puerto Rican Parrot

Puerto Rican Parrot / Cotorra Puertorriqueña / Scientific name: Amazona vitatta vitatta

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata) was considered nearly extinct until very recently, when a major reintroduction project took place in the 1980s. These beautiful green birds with their white-ringed eyes numbered around a million in Puerto Rico and the surrounding islands until the 1600s. As habitats were destroyed to make room for towns and farms, the parrot population declined. Today, even with major interventions, there are fewer than 200 Puerto Rican parrots in the wild.

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Hawk-Headed Parrot

Red-fan parrot (Hawk-headed Parrot)
slpu9945 / Getty Images

At just 12-14 inches tall, the hawk-headed parrot is the smallest of the Amazonian parrots. These colorful birds are considered quite smart; in zoos, they can solve complex puzzles to find their food. Hawk-headed parrots also have a special ability (unique to parrots in the Americas) to raise the feathers at the nape of their necks to create a "fan" above their heads when excited or frightened.

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Sun Conure

Sun parakeet (Aratinga solstitialis) perching
Frans Sellies / Getty Images

The sun conure, or sun parakeet (Aratinga solstitialis), is a lovely yellow-and-orange bird that is native to South America. While it has been spotted across the continent, it is most often found North of the Amazon River. They are about 12-inches tall and weigh 4 or 5 ounces. Despite their small size, sun conures have loud squawks—though they are popular pets, they're known to receive noise complaints.

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A green Kakapo looking straight into the camera.

Jake Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

The kakapo (Strigops habroptila) is less well known because it is nearly extinct. Once ranging across the islands of New Zealand, it has become so endangered that the last few kakapo were moved to the islands of Codfish, Maud, and Little Barrier Islands, which are predator-free. Kakapo are among the largest parrots, growing to over 24 inches tall.

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Rosy-Faced Lovebird

Two peace-faced lovebird
Feng Wei Photography / Getty Images

Rosy-faced lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis) are aptly named with their pretty pink faces, throats, and breasts. They are native to southwestern Africa, and are popular as pets around the world. Rosy-faced lovebirds grow to 6 or 7 inches tall, and weigh only a couple of ounces.

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Dusky Lory

Pair of dusky lory parrots side by side

Brian Hodgson / EyeEm/Getty Images

Native to New Guinea and surrounding islands, dusky lories (Pseudeos fuscata) are dark with bright orange and yellow patches. At about 10 inches long and weighing 10 ounces, they are considered middle-sized parrots. With their endearing personalities and lovely coloration, they are among the most popular parrots in the world.

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Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus) feeding
Joao Inacio / Getty Images

Lories and lorikeets are incredibly similar in appearance. If colorful birds intrigue you, look no further than the rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus). These fabulous birds typically sport blue colors on their head and underparts, orange on their necks, and green on their tails. Their beaks are a bright red. Rainbow lorikeets are 10-12 inches tall and weigh between 2.6 and 5.5 ounces.

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Red-Crowned Amazon

Red-crowned Amazon (Amazona viridigenalis), adult, on branch, captive, Germany
imageBROKER/Juergen & Christine Sohns / Getty Images

Amazons are medium-sized parrots (about 12-inches tall) native to Mexico, South America, and parts of the Caribbean. Amazons are generally known to be outgoing, loud, and demanding, and the red-crowned amazon (Amazona viridigenalis) is no exception. Red-crowned amazons, sometimes called green-cheeked amazons, are playful and friendly. Red-crowned amazons are endangered in the wild.

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Eclectus Parrot
Steve Clancy Photography / Getty Images

Eclectus parrots (Eclectus roratus) are native to Papua New Guinea and the surrounding region. They are among the largest parrots, with a height of 17 and 20 inches. What makes the eclectus especially interesting is its "eclectic" plumage. Males are bright green while females and red and purple; this dimorphism is unusual among parrots.

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Galah (Rose-Breasted) Cockatoo

Galah on tree branch: cockatoo with rosy-colored crest

tracielouise / Getty Images

Cockatoos are known for their beautiful "crowns," and the rose-breasted cockatoo (Eolophus roseicapillus) has pretty pink crown feathers. At about two-feet tall, this Australian native is a popular pet because of its pleasant personality and impressive ability to "speak" and do tricks. In fact, its nickname galah means "fool" in Australian slang.

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Bronze-Winged Parrot

Bronze winged parrot

budgora / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Its name says it all. While mostly blue in color, the bronze-winged parrot (Pionus chalcopterus) can be recognized by its signature wings. The bronze-winged parrot can be found in various South American countries, including Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia. While the species population is in decline, the IUCN classifies this parrot as Least Concern.

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Collared Lory

collared lory #4
Haiwei Hu / Getty Images

The collared lory (Phigys solitarius) sports a dark blue-purple top, deep red abdomen, and bright green wings and back of neck. This noisy lorikeet is commonly found on islands in Fiji and can fly up to nearly 4,000 feet high.

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Patagonian Conure

Head Portrait of a Patagonian Conure
Ian Fox / Getty Images

The Patagonian conure (Cyanoliseus patagonus) is also known as the burrowing parrot. As the name suggests, this bird burrows and nests in grassland cliffs in Argentina and other South American countries. The Patagonian conure has olive-brown feathers at the top of its head that turn charcoal grey down its back. Other colors include yellow, olive-green, and orange-red.

View Article Sources
  1. "Macaw." San Diego Zoo.

  2. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Red-Crowned Parrot." United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

  3. "Bronze-Winged Parrot." World Parrot Trust.