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Pacific Parrotlets – Complete Information

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Pacific Parrotlets – Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

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Small birds have always been popular as pets, but in recent years one specific type has seen an astronomical rise in popularity. We’re speaking, of course, about the charming and captivating Parrotlet. Highly intelligent, affectionate, and undeniably cute, these little birds have been diligently working their way into the homes and hearts of bird lovers around the world.

Pacific parrotlets are very spirited, and can become aggressive if left for too long without handling. Even though it is tiny, do not underestimate the strong beak – its bite is much stronger than a budgie. These pint-sized parrots don’t seem to realize that they are small because they have a large bird personality — outgoing, curious and, at times, downright feisty.

They form strong bonds with their owners and make excellent pets when properly raised and tamed. Check out the information below for a few key facts about these adorable birds―you may decide that you are interested in welcoming a Parrotlet of your own into your family.

The Pacific parrotlet has become one of the more popular small birds in the country, and is the most common of the various parrotlet species. They are referred to as “pocket parrots” — because of their small size, and they might very well sit in your shirt pocket as well! They have the personality of a “large bird in a small bird’s body,” and are often compared to Amazon parrots, a family of parrots said to be their close cousins.

Indeed, they do resemble the Amazons, with short, stout bodies and a somewhat blunt tail. The male is green with a blue streak behind the eye and blue on the rump and wing-coverts. Females lack the blue coloring, and may or may not have a faint blue streak behind the eye.

Native Region / Natural Habitat

Pacific parrotlets are native to Mexico and Central and South America

Care & Feeding

Parrotlets might be small but that doesn’t mean that a small cage will do. A spacious wide cage with 1/4 inch bar spacing is ideal. These are active birds that need their play space and plenty of toys to keep them busy. Parrot kabobs and other shreddable toys are parrotlet favorites, and they also like swings and boings.

Parrotlets should have a pellet-based diet supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as some seed. They also need a calcium source, such as cuttlebone.  Diced fresh fruits and vegetables are also important for these birds. Some parrotlet-friendly fruits and vegetables are corn, bananas, oranges, carrots, pears, apples, peas, celery, pomegranates, green beans and kiwi. Allow tiny portions of nuts and seeds — but never more often than one serving per day. Dietary supplementation for calcium is also crucial. Cuttlebones, which are cuttlefish shells, are suitable for these purposes. For great daily diets, check out Lafeber’s Avi-Cakes, Nutri-Berries, and Premium Daily Diet. Pacific Parrotlets Love to eat:
Classic Nutri-Berries

Personality & Behavior

Parrotlets in general are feisty, affectionate and willful. If someone wants a great companion they should keep only one bird, because a pair of parrotlets will probably bond closely to each other to the exclusion of the owner. However, parrotlets are dimorphic and easy to pair up, and they do enjoy each other’s company. They can also be kept peaceably in groups in large aviaries, but it’s best to keep them separate from other species. They will quibble and fight over object and territory, so keep that in mind.

Males and females make equally good companions depending on the individual. Companionability has much less to do with gender than it does with handling and socialization. Hand-fed parrotlets are very friendly, especially if the guardian takes the time to keep handling the bird. If left alone for too long, a single parrotlet can lose some of its companionability. The Pacific, in particular, does not understand that it is a tiny bird, and has little trouble challenging other animals and humans.

The mutations are said to be more easy going than the nominate color (green), but they are also said to be less hardy. This may be a result of inbreeding. Because of the small size, the parrotlet may seem like a great companion for children, but kids would probably be better off with a budgie or something in the neophema family. The parrotlet can be temperamental and feisty, and its bite packs a wallop.

Speech & Sound

Pacific Parrotlets are not noisy birds, making them great for people living in apartments. They will repeat words and simple phrases, but are not known to be the finest talkers of the parrotlet family. These birds can learn to mimic, but they aren’t the best talkers of the parrot family. Some individuals can learn quite a few words, however. They aren’t noisy, so neighbors won’t be disturbed.

Health & Common Conditions

A parrotlet’s curiosity, combined with its small size, can make it accident prone and being stepped on can pose a real hazard.

Get a Pacific Parrotlet

The Pacific parrotlet (Forpus coelestis) is one of two parrotlet species commonly available as pets — the other being the green-rumped parrotlet (Forpus passerinus) — either from pet stores, avian-specialty store or from bird breeders.

In all parrotlet species, the nominate color is varying shades of green and some species, like the Pacific, come in a variety of mutations, such as blue, yellow, lutino, fallow, darker green, pastel, Isabel (cinnamon), albino, and white. The parrotlet is dimorphic, meaning that there’s a visible difference between the sexes, making it easy to choose pairs among mature birds.

Colorful, charming, and intelligent, Pacific parrotlets are the smallest members of the parrot family. Nicknamed “pocket parrots” for one of their favorite hiding spots, they have become increasingly popular pets. Their small size and quiet nature make them an ideal choice for people who live in apartments or condos or those who do not have the space to house a larger bird. Some can learn to talk quite well, although it is not known for being a big talker. They make perfectly affectionate and adorable pets.

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Species Overview

Common Names: Parrotlet, pocket parrot, Pacific parrotlet, celestial parrotlet, and Lesson’s parrotlet

Scientific Name: Forpus coelestis

Adult Size: 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 inches, weighing about one ounce

Life Expectancy: 20 to 30 years in captivity

Origin and History

The Pacific parrotlet is found in Central America and South America. They are most prevalent in Peru and Ecuador. They live in the tropical forests.

It is common for these tiny birds to gather in flocks of 100 or more. Some flocks get so large; they look like clouds of smoke in the sky. Parrotlets will spend hours each day in the trees where they forage for fruit and seeds or on clay cliffs.

Parrotlets are “true” parrots, and their closest relative is the Amazon parrot. Although the two species differ significantly in size, they have striking similarities in appearance and temperament.

Pacific parrotlets have not been bred in captivity long, however, they are the most common parrotlet species kept as a pet. Other popular species include the Mexican parrotlet (Forpus cyanopygius cyanopygius), the spectacled parrotlet (Forpus conspicillatus conspicillatus), and the yellow-faced parrotlet (Forpus xanthops).


You get all of the large-parrot personality characteristics in a miniature package. These birds may be small, but they act like the big guys and require just as much attention. Tame, hand-fed parrotlets make very sweet, affectionate companions. They are often compared to lovebirds.

Without proper handling, parrotlets can become unruly and impish. They often do best as pets when kept by themselves. They are prone to becoming aggressive toward other birds, especially if they are untamed. Territorial fights might break out during feeding time.

These miniature parrots may act fearless, but this bravado can get them into danger, especially in a home with dogs and cats. Feisty parrotlets may not back down from a fight with your furry pets.

Parrotlets are just as intelligent as any other parrot. They can be trained to do a few tricks. Some individuals can talk.

Speech and Vocalizations

These little birds do not reach the piercing decibels of the larger parrots. Their voice is almost whisper-soft, and their vocabulary can reach 10 to 15 words, which is quite impressive for their size. They will screech and chirp since they are naturally very vocal, but their noise should not be bothersome for neighbors.How to Teach Your Bird to Talk

Pacific Parrotlet Colors and Markings

Pacific parrotlets are adorable with their miniature parrot features. Their tiny tails are delicate, and their curved beaks and large head perfectly mimic their larger cousins. They also have zygodactyl feet, meaning two toes point forward and two toes point toward the rear.

This bird’s normal coloration is mostly green. Parrotlets also come in many color mutations, such as lutino, blue, and albino.

This a dimorphic species, which means there are noticeable differences between males and females. Males can be distinguished from females by the splashes of bright blue on their backs and behind their eyes.

Caring for Pacific Parrotlets

While parrotlets may be small, they are by no means low-maintenance. They are naturally easier to clean up after compared to larger birds. However, they require socialization and handling daily to keep them tame.

As with all parrots, bored parrotlets can become destructive. This can include nipping people, chewing up things around your home, or self-mutilating behavior. Proper training, positive reinforcement, engaging toys, and daily attention are the best ways to keep your parrots content.

Compared to other parrots, parrotlets are rather good at entertaining themselves. Supply them with plenty of stimulating toys in their cage. The minimum cage size for this bird should be 18 inches square. The bigger the cage, the better. The bar spacing should be no bigger than 1/2- to 5/8-inch.

Supervise the period that the bird is out of the cage. These birds are so small and delicate that it’s easy to have an accident if they are on the floor or hopping around on furniture. To prevent accidents or injury, early on set boundaries for the bird. Teach the bird to remain on a play stand. Diligently set the bird back on it every time it gets off.

These “pocket parrots” can often be seen poking their head out of a shirt pocket for a quick petting on the head. This is a fun, engaging activity for the bird. To your fine-feathered friend, your pocket is the perfect carrying pouch that keeps it right where it wants to be—right next to you.

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Common Health Problems

Like most parrots, these birds require out-of-cage time and socialization with you. If your bird feels neglected or bored, it may resort to feather plucking and even skin picking, which can become a severe health concern.

In general, parrotlets are hardy little birds that do not typically get diseases. They can live, on average, up to 30 years in captivity. However, bacteria, viruses, and harmful fungus can make any bird susceptible to illness. These harmful organisms can cause psittacosis (bacterial respiratory infection), Pacheco’s virus (fatal herpes infection), and aspergillosis (fungal lung disease). There are a host of even rarer avian diseases that can also affect parrotlets.

Diet and Nutrition

Pacific parrotlets have a speedy metabolism and must have food available at all times. They are known for their voracious appetites and thrive on a varied diet. In the wild, parrotlets feed on blossoms, seed heads, fruits, and berries.

Their diet should consist of fresh bird-safe fruits and vegetables, small seeds, high-quality commercial pellets, and nutritious protein sources such as eggs. They should also have access to a cuttlebone as a calcium source, particularly if a female is egg-laying.

Fruits and veggies should make up 50 percent of a parrotlet’s diet. A high-quality bird pellet should account for 35 percent. The remaining 15 percent should be a low-fat seed mix primarily consisting of barley, millet, cantaloupe, flax, or grass seeds.Seeds vs. Pellets: What to Feed Your Bird


Very active, parrotlets need plenty of room to play and many toys for playtime. They are curious little birds and will get into your things if you don’t provide them with toys of their own.

If you want to own parrotlets, you should be sure that you can set aside a bird-safe area for your bird to play at least one to two hours a day. They need to be able to come out of their cage, stretch their wings, and exercise their leg muscles to maintain their physical and mental health.

Introduce new things like toys and ladders to the bird’s cage, which will help keep it intrigued and occupied. Swings, leather, wood, knotted rope, bells, and beads are among a bird’s favorite items, though anything shiny or brightly colored will capture their curiosity.

Providing a random branch once a week can be a delight and help curb the bird’s instinct to chew and climb. You can create foraging challenges that will test your bird’s food hunting abilities as well. Safe woods include apple, pear, cherry, willow, ash, poplar, elm, horse chestnut, walnut, alder, and maple.

This bird is the perfect size for a cute birdie tent. It will sleep in the tent or on a swing. Once the bird matures and their nesting nature kicks in, remove the tent if it causes the bird to become aggressive.

Pros of Pacific Parrotlet

  • Small-sized, don’t require as much space
  • Quiet, although may be trained to talk
  • Affectionate

Cons of Pacific Parrotlet

  • Small size makes them more delicate
  • Can be feisty, bullish, and temperamental
  • Can get destructive if bored

Where to Adopt or Buy a Pacific Parrotlet

Most bird rescues list their birds on online search databases like Adopt a Pet and Petfinder. If you want to know what it is like to live with one, contact a local breeder or parrot adoption agency and ask if you can visit their birds. The Beauty of Birds maintains a list of reputable parrotlet breeders. On average, parrotlets sell for $200 to $400.