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Ornithologists, or scientists who study birds, recognize almost 400 types of parrots. Parrots vary significantly in size, color and disposition, and their ability to mimic human voices varies also. When many people think of parrots, the image they see is that of the large, brightly colored exotic pets, such as the Amazon parrot and the macaw. What they might not realize is that there are a number of pet birds that are also types of parrots, including budgies and lovebirds.
The Amazon parrot has long been one of the most sought-after types of parrots for those who want to own a pet bird. They are excellent vocal mimics, but their primary colors tend toward shades of green, with only patches of red, yellow and blue. Amazons, therefore, are not the most vividly colored parrots roosting in the family tree.
Macaws are typically larger than Amazons, although some species are smaller, and they are also typically more colorful. The scarlet macaw is particularly impressive, with a predominantly red body and bright blue, yellow and gold wings. Hyacinth macaws are blue in color, but changing light patterns can make their feathers appear closer to purple. Among macaws, the blue and gold is one of the largest; its name derives from its blue back and gold or yellow chest. The green-winged macaw, the great green macaw and the Cuban red macaw also sport vivid colors and unusual patterns.
African grays are not recommended as pet birds by most ornithologists. These birds need a lot of care and attention, but they are also considered one of the most intelligent types of parrots. As their name implies, they are gray in color, although the shades are somewhat variegated, and most have touches of white.
Budgies and lovebirds are also types of parrots. In some areas, budgies are better known as parakeets, although not all parakeets are budgies. One of the smallest types of parrots, these native Australians are typically predominantly green in color, with blue and yellow accents. Lovebirds are similar in size and coloration, but they are natives of Madagascar and Africa.
Many types of parrots can live as long as their owners. Macaws often survive 70 years in captivity, and African grays and Amazons average between 50 and 60 years. Lovebirds have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Budgies are among the most short-lived types of parrots; in captivity, the average lifespan is between five and eight years, but some of these birds have been known to celebrate 12 to 15 additional birthdays.
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