Blue, a color often associated with calm and serenity, fills many of us with a sense of tranquility and wonder. In the world of parrots, the color blue takes on a whole new level of magnificence. From striking cobalt to soft sky blues, blue parrots are truly a sight to behold.
Whether you’re an enthusiastic birder, a potential pet owner, or simply a nature lover, join us as we explore the fascinating world of blue parrots. Our journey will take us from the wild expanses of South America to the comfort of our living rooms, as we learn about these captivating creatures that have conquered both the sky and our homes.
- Scientific Name: Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus
- Size: 40 inches (100 cm) in length
- Lifespan: 40-50 years
- Where Found: Central and Eastern South America
The Hyacinth Macaw is not just a blue parrot – it’s the largest flying parrot species in the world. This majestic bird is adorned in vibrant, cobalt-blue plumage with a bright yellow ring around its eye and at the base of its beak.
Hyacinth Macaws are native to the woodlands and grasslands of central and eastern South America. In the wild, they feast primarily on nuts from a few specific types of palm trees. Their powerful beaks – the most powerful of any parrot – are perfectly adapted for cracking open these hard nuts.
In terms of behavior, these gentle giants are as friendly as they are large. They’re known for their playful demeanor, intelligence, and strikingly sweet nature. As pets, Hyacinth Macaws are affectionate and can form strong bonds with their owners. However, they require a lot of space, a nutrient-rich diet, and plenty of attention, so keeping one is a significant commitment.
Did you know? Hyacinth Macaws are often called “gentle giants” due to their large size but friendly and sweet nature. Despite their powerful beaks, which can easily crack a coconut, these birds are generally very gentle and affectionate.
Budgerigar – Blue mutation
- Scientific Name: Melopsittacus undulatus
- Size: 7-9 inches (18-22 cm)
- Lifespan: 5-10 years
- Where Found: Originating in Australia, now found worldwide in domestic settings
Budgerigars, or ‘budgies’ as they are often called, are small, energetic parrots, originally native to Australia. The wild-type budgie has a yellow and green coloration, but selective breeding has led to a range of beautiful color mutations, including a vivid blue. The blue mutation budgies sport a captivating hue of light blue, which stands out against the white of their faces and yellow of their wings.
Budgies are social creatures, often found in flocks in the wild. They are adept flyers, covering large distances in search of water and food. Their diet is primarily seed-based, but they also consume fruits, berries, and greens.
Blue budgies make great pets due to their small size, cheerful disposition, and impressive capacity for mimicry. They are intelligent birds that thrive on social interaction and mental stimulation, making them excellent companions for both individuals and families.
Did you know? Budgerigars hold the record for having the largest vocabulary among birds! They are highly skilled at mimicry and can learn hundreds to thousands of words.
Pacific Parrotlet – Blue mutation
- Scientific Name: Forpus coelestis
- Size: 4.5-5 inches (11-12 cm)
- Lifespan: 15-20 years
- Where Found: Native to Central and South America; Blue mutation is commonly found in domestic settings worldwide
Pacific Parrotlets are one of the smallest parrot species in the world, but they certainly don’t lack in personality. The wild-type Pacific Parrotlet is predominantly green, but the blue mutation, brought about through selective breeding, is a captivating shade of cerulean blue.
Originating from Central and South America, these little parrots have a large presence, often being described as “big parrots in a small parrot’s body”. They are active, playful, and quite fearless, often showing no hesitation when interacting with larger birds or animals.
As pets, blue Pacific Parrotlets are highly prized for their charming personalities and beautiful coloration. They require lots of mental stimulation and social interaction, so be ready for a small bird with a big heart and an even bigger need for attention.
Did you know? Despite their small size, Pacific Parrotlets have strong beaks. They use their beaks not just for eating but also for climbing, grasping toys, and playing, much like hands!
Indian Ringneck Parakeet – Blue mutation
- Scientific Name: Psittacula krameri
- Size: 16 inches (40 cm) including the tail
- Lifespan: 15-30 years
- Where Found: Native to Africa and Asia; blue mutation is found in domestic settings worldwide
The Indian Ringneck Parakeet is an impressive bird, known for its ability to mimic human speech and its striking appearance. The wild-type Ringneck has a green body with a yellow underbelly, a long, elegant tail, and, in males, a black and rose-colored ring around the neck. However, selective breeding has led to color mutations, including a mesmerizing blue variant.
These parakeets are intelligent and social birds with a playful streak. They enjoy toys and activities that challenge their mind, and they have a penchant for mimicry. Indian Ringnecks can develop an extensive vocabulary and even form simple sentences.
Blue Indian Ringneck Parakeets, with their striking coloration and charming personalities, make fascinating pets. They require a high level of social interaction, and their care includes a varied diet, plenty of space to explore and fly, and lots of mental stimulation.
Did you know? The “ring” in the Indian Ringneck Parakeet’s name comes from the collar or ring that develops around the necks of the males when they reach sexual maturity, usually around two years of age.
- Scientific Name: Ara ararauna
- Size: 30-34 inches (76-86 cm)
- Lifespan: 60 years or more
- Where Found: Central and South America
The Blue-and-Gold Macaw is an iconic parrot species, beloved for its magnificent coloration and engaging personality. This large parrot boasts a striking blue body and wings, contrasted by a bright gold (yellow) underbelly and a green forehead. Its large black beak and white face add to its captivating appearance.
Blue-and-Gold Macaws inhabit tropical rainforests, where they feed on fruits, seeds, and nuts. They’re known for their loud calls and playful behaviors, which include hanging upside-down and flying in large flocks.
As pets, these macaws are quite popular due to their impressive size, vibrant colors, and sociable nature. They are intelligent and expressive birds, capable of learning a range of tricks and often developing a close bond with their human caregivers. Their care needs include a spacious living area, a balanced diet, plenty of interaction, and opportunities for mental stimulation.
Did you know? Blue-and-Gold Macaws, like other macaws, have a cheeky habit of lying on their backs to play. It’s a sign of trust and contentment and is sure to bring a smile to anyone watching!
Lovebird – Blue mutation
- Scientific Name: Agapornis spp.
- Size: 5-7 inches (13-17 cm)
- Lifespan: 10-15 years
- Where Found: Native to Africa; blue mutation is found in domestic settings worldwide
The term “Lovebird” actually refers to a group of nine closely related species of small parrots native to Africa. Known for their strong monogamous pair bonds, these petite parrots are often seen sitting close and preening each other, which is how they got their affectionate name.
The wild-type Lovebirds showcase a variety of vibrant colors, but the blue mutations, achieved through selective breeding, are particularly captivating. With their petite size, playful nature, and engaging personalities, blue Lovebirds make charming and manageable pets.
These birds are social creatures and require a good deal of interaction and stimulation. They love to play, chew, and explore, making an enriched environment crucial for their well-being. It’s also worth noting that Lovebirds, when well socialized, can get along well with other bird species.
Did you know? Despite their small size, Lovebirds are known for their strong personality and high energy. They are often described as “pint-sized versions” of their larger parrot cousins due to their similar levels of intelligence and playful nature.
Lear’s Macaws / Indigo Macaws
- Scientific Name: Anodorhynchus leari
- Size: 28-30 inches (70-75 cm)
- Lifespan: 30-50 years
- Where Found: Northeastern Brazil
The Lear’s Macaw, also known as the Indigo Macaw, is a breathtaking species of parrot. It showcases a brilliant all-blue plumage, ranging from a light turquoise on its head and underparts to a deep, almost purplish-blue on its wings and tail. This striking coloration, combined with its robust size, makes it a truly majestic sight.
Native to a small region of northeastern Brazil, the Lear’s Macaw is unfortunately an endangered species. Their diet primarily consists of the nuts from Licuri palms, which grow within their limited range.
While Lear’s Macaws are not commonly kept as pets due to their conservation status, their intelligence, playful behavior, and striking looks make them a species of great interest to bird enthusiasts around the world.
Did you know? The Lear’s Macaw was named in honor of the British artist Edward Lear, who had a great interest in parrots and even published a book of illustrations featuring these magnificent birds.
- Scientific Name: Ara glaucogularis
- Size: 32-34 inches (80-85 cm)
- Lifespan: 50-60 years
- Where Found: Bolivia
The Blue-Throated Macaw is an impressively sized parrot that hails from the savannahs of north-central Bolivia. Their most defining characteristic is the vivid blue patch of feathers on their throats, which stands out against the bird’s predominantly yellow-gold body. The wings and tail bear the more familiar blue hues seen in many macaw species.
Blue-Throated Macaws are social and intelligent birds, living in small family groups in the wild. Their diet mainly consists of fruits, seeds, and nuts. The species is currently endangered, with habitat loss being the primary threat to their survival.
While rarely kept as pets due to their endangered status, their intelligence, playfulness, and striking beauty make them a beloved species among bird enthusiasts and conservationists.
Did you know? The Blue-Throated Macaw is often mistaken for the more common Blue-and-Gold Macaw, but the distinctive blue patch on its throat serves as a clear distinguishing feature.
Quaker Parrot – Blue mutation
- Scientific Name: Myiopsitta monachus
- Size: 11-12 inches (29-30 cm)
- Lifespan: 20-30 years
- Where Found: Native to South America; blue mutation is found in domestic settings worldwide
Quaker Parrots, also known as Monk Parakeets, are a popular pet bird species, known for their intelligence, lively nature, and strong ability to mimic human speech. Their wild-type coloration is a vibrant green, but the blue mutation offers a striking alternative.
Blue Quaker Parrots are indeed a sight to behold, their plumage ranging from a soft sky blue to a deeper blue. Despite the difference in color, blue Quakers possess the same endearing qualities as their green counterparts. They are intelligent, social, and very active, requiring lots of mental stimulation and social interaction.
In captivity, these birds can be quite affectionate and form strong bonds with their human caregivers. They are known for their excellent talking abilities, often learning to mimic their favorite words and phrases.
Did you know? Quaker Parrots are one of the few bird species known to build nests, and they don’t just build any old nest; they build elaborate, multi-chambered nests that can house multiple Quaker families!
- Scientific Name: Cyanopsitta spixii
- Size: 21-22 inches (55 cm)
- Lifespan: 20-30 years
- Where Found: Native to Brazil, but now believed to be extinct in the wild
Spix’s Macaw, also known as the Little Blue Macaw, is a small and rare species of Brazilian parrot. Named after German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix, who discovered the species, it’s renowned for its stunning, all-blue plumage, ranging from bright azure to a deep, navy blue.
Known for their intelligence and curiosity, Spix’s Macaws are truly enchanting creatures. However, they have the tragic distinction of being one of the world’s most critically endangered animals. As of now, they’re believed to be extinct in the wild, with the only remaining individuals living in captivity.
Due to their extremely endangered status, Spix’s Macaws are not kept as pets. Still, their compelling story and beautiful appearance make them an important symbol in the fight for global conservation.
Did you know? Spix’s Macaw achieved worldwide fame as the inspiration for the main character in the animated movie “Rio.”
- Scientific Name: Pionus senilis
- Size: 9-10 inches (24 cm)
- Lifespan: 25-40 years
- Where Found: Central America to north-western South America
The White-capped Pionus is a medium-sized parrot characterized by a striking blue body and a unique white cap on its head. The contrast between the blue body and white cap gives this bird a distinctive and attractive appearance.
These birds are known for their calm and gentle nature. In the wild, they inhabit forest areas, where they live in small groups and feed on fruits, seeds, and berries. While not as talkative as some other parrot species, White-capped Pionus are intelligent and can learn to mimic a variety of sounds.
In captivity, they make great pets, especially for owners looking for a more relaxed and easygoing companion. They require a balanced diet, plenty of toys for mental stimulation, and regular social interaction to keep them happy and healthy.
Did you know? Unlike many other parrots, White-capped Pionus are relatively quiet birds, making them a popular choice for those who live in apartments or other settings where a loud bird might not be suitable.
What Makes Parrots Blue?
The blue color in parrots, like many other birds, is not the result of pigments but rather a phenomenon called structural coloration. Parrot feathers are composed of layers of keratin, the same protein that makes up our hair and nails. Within these layers are tiny pockets of air and melanin, a common pigment in animals.
When light hits these layers, it scatters, and the wavelengths that reflect back to our eyes are what we perceive as color. In the case of blue parrots, the light refracts or bends in a way that the blue wavelengths are reflected. Interestingly, if you were to grind up a blue feather, it would appear gray because the structural features required for color reflection would be destroyed.
In addition to this natural marvel, the blue coloration in some domesticated parrot species is the result of selective breeding by humans. Breeders have encouraged the expression of recessive blue coloration genes over generations, resulting in the vibrant blue parrots seen in many pet parrots today.
Our exploration of the blue-hued wonders of the parrot world takes us on a global journey, from the savannahs of Bolivia to the forests of Brazil and even to our living rooms. Each species with its unique blend of intelligence, charm, and striking beauty, represents a facet of the fascinating world of parrots.
But perhaps what truly sets these birds apart is their incredible coloration – a magnificent blue that’s as much a product of intricate biological architecture as it is a testament to their survival and adaptability.