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Home > Birds > How to Tell the Age of a Parakeet: 4 Easy Methods (With Pictures)

How to Tell the Age of a Parakeet: 4 Easy Methods (With Pictures)

Rose-Ringed Parakeet

A parakeet can have a long lifespan of 10–15 years, so purchasing one of these birds second-hand can be a great way to save a few dollars on the purchase price, as long as you get one with plenty of life left. Knowing how to tell the age of your parakeet can also help you make sure a pet store is selling you what they say they are.

But how exactly can you tell the age of a parakeet if you haven’t had it since the beginning? Keep reading while we present you with a short step-by-step guide for determining the age of any parakeet in a few seconds just by looking at it.


4 Easy Methods to Tell the Age of a Parakeet

1. Look at the Head

The first step of telling your parakeets’ age is to look at the head. Birds younger than 3 or 4 months old will have stripes from their forehead to the back of the neck. Once it molts for the first time at around 12 to 14 weeks old, the stripes will no longer be visible. These are called the cap feathers, and after the first molt, a white or yellow cap will replace the striped pattern, depending on what variety you have. Any bird without stripes down the back of its head is older than 3 months.

This method will not work with the lutino, albino, or recessive pied varieties because they do not have ordinary markings, and the stripes may not be present on these birds.

American Parakeets
Image By: Rob Jansen, Shutterstock

2. Look at the Eyes

Another way you can get an idea about how old a parakeet is to look at its eyes. Young birds have black eyes, and as they age, they lighten to a grey or light brown. If your bird has black eyes, it likely is less than 4 months old. If it’s a dark grey, then your bird is likely between 4 and 8 months old. If the parakeet is more than 8 months old, the eyes will likely be a light grey or brown.

Some varieties, like the lutino and albino, have red eyes, so you can’t use this test on them. Other varieties, like the recessive pied and the dark-eyed clear, have plum-colored eyes that don’t change, so you won’t be able to check their age with this eye test either.

3. Study the ID Badge

Many parakeets have an ID band around one of their legs that will tell you how old your bird is. Some bands are breeder-specific and won’t tell you much, but you might be able to contact that breeder to learn more. Organizations like the American Budgerigar Society have standardized formats that can help you much more efficiently if you understand the code. You will know if the American Budgerigar Society recognizes your bird because the ID badge will have the letters ABS and a color stripe. The color stripe corresponds to the year the bird was born.

American Budgerigar Society Codes Since 2010
  • 2010 = Orange
  • 2011 = Dark Blue
  • 2012 = Red
  • 2013 = Black
  • 2014 = Pastel Green
  • 2015 = Violet
  • 2016 = Orange
  • 2017 = Dark Blue
  • 2018 = Red
  • 2019 = Black
  • 2020 = Pastel Green
  • 2021 = Violet
  • 2022 = Dark Brown
  • 2023 = Dark Blue

If the numbers on the ID badge do not match those of the American Budgerigar Society, you may need to look online to track down the creator of the badge.

parakeet on tree
Image By: suju-foto, Pixabay

4. Eating Habits

Once a parakeet reaches 6 years old, it will become less active and eat less food. While it is not as accurate as previous methods, it can protect you from purchasing a bird at the end of its life. Unless the bird is sick, lethargy and decreased diet are common signs of a bird older than 6. We recommend taking the bird to the vet to rule out illness before making a final determination.


Final Thoughts

Your parakeet can live for many years, and they make great pets for children and adults. While there is no way to determine the exact age in the middle of its life, you can use the methods here to determine if your parakeet is less than 4 months old or older than 6 years. If you are purchasing one new from a pet store, we recommend looking for the stripes to make sure it hasn’t had its first molt yet so you can get the maximum pet life for your money. If you are purchasing from a friend, we recommend avoiding sluggish birds with a poor appetite because you might not get much time to enjoy it as it’s likely more than 6 years old.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and have learned something new about these popular pets. If we have helped you choose your next bird, please share this guide to determine a parakeet’s age on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay

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