Budgies are the third most popular pet to own behind dogs and cats. Despite this, many people don’t know the difference between a budgie and a parakeet.
The term “budgie” isn’t used in the United States, even though the rest of the world uses “budgie” and “parakeet” alike. This leaves people wondering if the difference is based on species or merely American vs. British English.
All budgies are parakeets, but not all parakeets are budgies. Parakeets are a type of parrot and budgies are a type of parakeet species native to Australia.
Budgerigars are smaller and have a shorter lifespan than parakeet species, like rose-ringed parakeets, monk parakeets, and sun parakeets.
There are 115 parakeet species, so it’s hard to say what differentiates a budgie from a parakeet unless a specific parakeet is discussed. It gets even more difficult because of cultural and language differences.
Are Budgies and Parakeets the Same Bird?
Budgies and parakeets are technically the same; it’s similar to how a cat is only one of many kinds of felines. A budgie is one of the 115 parakeet species that exist in the world today.
People get confused about budgies vs. parakeets since budgies (Melopsittacus undulatus) are called parakeets in the United States. That’s true even though the word “parakeet” is used to describe any small, long-tailed parrot.
Budgerigars, called budgies for short, are the most common kind of parakeet to own in the United States. They originate from Australia, are long-tailed and small, and they are bred in different tones of:
Their natural color is green and yellow, so all other varieties are genetic mutations.
Other kinds of parakeets include:
- Sun conures (or sun parakeets)
- Quaker parrots (or monk parakeets)
- Rose-ringed parakeets
These belong to the same family as budgies (psittaculidae). However, they differ in a few areas because they belong to different genera.
You can see this in the table below:
|Parakeet||Budgerigar||Rose-ringed Parakeet||Monk Parakeet||Sun Parakeet|
|Average length||7 inches (in the wild)/5-11 (in captivity)||16 inches||11 inches||12 inches|
|Average Weight||1.1-1.4 oz||4.5 oz||3.5 oz||4 oz|
|Lifespan||5-10 years||25-30 years||20-30 years||15-30 years|
Why Do We Call Budgies Parakeets?
Americans call budgies “parakeets” because it’s easier to pronounce than a budgerigar. Also, the original meaning of the word has negative connotations. Budgies first came to the United States in the late 1920s.
However, by the time they were popularized in the 1950s, they had already been a popular species to own in England for 100 years. Breeders anticipated that Americans would be as taken with budgies as the British were. Nonetheless, they needed to be marketed well.
Budgerigar is a name that may be difficult to read and pronounce for some. This wasn’t ideal from a marketing perspective, especially because breeders wanted to market the birds as cute, family pets. Budgerigar is a bit of a heavy name for such an adorable, tiny bird. The name budgerigar is also an Australian aboriginal term that means “good to eat.”
Wishing to rid the birds of their crude, weighted name, the breeders decided to call them by their general classification: parakeets. It was an easier name to say, remember, and suits the birds far better. As such, with this introduction, the United States came to refer to budgies and other parakeets all under the general term of “parakeet,” despite mild differences.
English Budgies vs. Parakeets
The difference between English budgies and parakeets (Australian budgies) is that English budgies are bigger and easier to train. This is because English budgies are bred as show birds for competitions, and that’s why you might also hear them referred to as show budgies or exhibition budgies. While the average parakeet is 7-9 inches tall, an English budgie is 10-12 inches tall.
The standard Australian budgie, known as the parakeet in the United States, was brought to England in the 1840s by bird enthusiast John Gould. By the end of the century, budgies had become the most popular pet bird in England, and people thus began breeding them for exhibition purposes.
Because English budgies are meant to sit still and not squawk for long periods of time, they’re a lot easier to train than the Australian variant. They vocalize less, but they can still develop a wide vocabulary, like their smaller counterpart. English budgies come in the same colors as normal budgies, but their plumage tends to be a little fluffier, especially at the crown of their head.
Lineolated Parakeets vs. Budgies
Lineolated parakeets (also known as barred parakeets or linnies) are a parakeet species that originates from South America.
The main differences between barred parakeets and budgies are their striped appearance, their vocalization levels, and the fact that budgies are more active.
|Average Length||7 inches (in the wild)/5-11 (in captivity)||6.5 inches|
|Average Weight||1.1-1.4 oz||1.4-1.8 oz|
|Lifespan||5-10 years||10 years|
|Cost||$10-$35 dollars||$200-$300 dollars|
|Availability||High/can be found in most pet stores||Low/can be found in rescues, adoption agencies, or through breeders|
Barred parakeets got their name because of their striped appearance. Wild barred parakeets are green in color, with either black or dark green stripes along their body, save for the top of the head. However, budgies don’t have stripes and are green and yellow in the wild.
Juvenile barred parakeets don’t have many visible stripes. However, as they grow older, the lines become much more visible. Juvenile budgies hatch with stripes, but these fade away as the budgie gets older.
Although their natural appearance is a rich green, they have been bred to come in:
Budgies are usually the following colors:
Barred parakeets have plumage that is fluffy and messy. Meanwhile, budgies have a slicker, more streamlined appearance because their feathers are matted closer to their body.
Barred parakeets tend to be more even-tempered than budgies, and they prefer to walk and climb, whereas budgies prefer flying. Budgies also tend to be a lot messier and have more attitude, especially when adolescents.
With that said, a barred parakeet’s temperament will still be influenced by its individual personality and how it’s trained. Because of that, you may still end up with a moody linnie.
Between budgies and barred parakeets, budgies are the loudest.
Barred parakeets can vocalize and learn to speak, but they’re shy birds who prefer to chirp softly instead. Their sound level is significantly lower than a budgie, making them better for bird lovers who want a parakeet that isn’t so noisy.
Budgies and parakeets often vary from each other based on linguistic differences, genera, and physical characteristics. At times, they come from the same family, but that’s not always true, based on the individual species.
While the terms can be used interchangeably, they’re not always the same bird. That’s especially true in American English, where the term parakeet can even refer to conures and quaker parrots. Because of that, it’s worth knowing the kind of bird you own and if it’s indeed a budgie or a parakeet.