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Home > Birds > How to Tell the Age of a Parrotlet: Developmental Stages Explained

How to Tell the Age of a Parrotlet: Developmental Stages Explained

blue parrotlet

Native to South and Central America, parrotlets are the smallest bird in the parrot family and a very popular pet choice. There are a variety of parrotlets available in the pet trade.

The most popular species kept as pets are the Pacific parrotlet and the Green-rumped parrotlet.  The Mexican parrotlet, spectacled parrotlet, and the Yellow-faced parrotlet are not as popular but can still be found in pet stores and available from breeders across the country.

At full maturity, parrotlets are described as looking like miniature Amazon parrots. Most parrotlets have a standard base color of vibrant greens and blues but this is dependent on species.

On average, a parrotlet can live anywhere from 20 to 40 years. Anyone interested in adopting or purchasing parrotlet will need to ensure they can commit to the time and care requirements involved with their ownership.


The 6 Stages of Development

A baby parrot goes through five basic developmental stages before becoming an adult:

  • Neonate
  • Nestling
  • Fledgling
  • Weanling
  • Juvenile
  • Adult

Let’s take a look at what to expect at these different stages of development.

1. Neonate

Parrotlet mothers tend to lay anywhere from four to seven eggs. Once baby parrotlets have hatched from the egg, they begin development. The first stage of development is called neonate or hatchling.

Newly hatched baby parrotlets are nearly naked except for a very thin layer of a sparse down feather. Their eyes will be closed, leaving them blind and helpless.

The hatchlings will huddle together in their nest at this stage and be completely dependent on their parents or their human caretakers for food and warmth. In the wild, hatchlings are fed food that their parents regurgitate. In the absence of parents, human caretakers must provide the hatchling with a special hand-rearing formula via syringe.

2. Nestling

The parrotlets’ second stage of development is known and nestling. When the parrotlet reaches the nestling stage, it will open its eyes but remain dependent on its parents or human caretakers. It will still be mostly naked at this stage of development.

When the nestling first opens its eyes, it forms a deep bond with its parents. If the other parrotlets are not present, the nestling will imprint on its human caretaker.

At this stage, the parrotlet will become more mobile. It is a very important stage of development, they will require interaction and various forms of stimulation.

Parrotlet Nesting
Image Credit: Bussakorn Ewesakul_Shutterstock

3. Fledgling

The third stage for the parrotlet is the fledgling stage. The fledgling stage begins at about three to four weeks of age. The parrotlets are just beginning to learn flight and tend to take on a slimmer appearance since they are mostly focused on learning to fly.

Parrotlets grow pin feathers after about three weeks of age. These give the birds a scaly, reptilian appearance but the feathers will begin to fill out. They will start developing an interest in their surroundings at this stage. They are still unable to acquire their food at this stage and will continue dependence on their parents and caretakers.

Related Read: What’s the Optimum Age to Bring a Parrotlet Home?

4. Weanling

The fourth stage of parrot development is called the weanling. This is the stage where the parrotlet will become more independent and begin eating solid foods. This happens around 6 weeks of age.

At this stage, their motor skills are becoming more fine-tuned and they are much more active than in the previous stages. They are taking on a more mature appearance at this stage.

5. Juvenile

The fifth stage of development is the juvenile or pre-adolescent stage. At this point, the parrotlet is completely weaned and independent from its parents or human caretakers but has not yet reached reproductive maturity.

Parrotlets, not unlike humans can have some behavioral changes around this time. They can become more feisty and uncooperative. They are an intelligent species and each bird will begin to develop their unique personality during this stage of life.

Physically, they look more fully developed but have not quite reached adult size. Their feathers may be slightly duller than that of an adult. At this stage, they will truly begin to exhibit how active their species is.

green rumped parrotlet
Image Credit: Chelsea Sampson, Shutterstock

6. Adult

Parrotlets will reach sexual maturity at approximately one year of age. By this time all feathers have come in and reached full vibrance. Adult parrotlets will reach between four and five inches in length and will weigh up to an ounce. Parrotlets have the shortest wingspan of all parrots at about nine and a half inches.

Adult parrotlets are demanding very social, active, and playful creatures. Unlike their larger counterparts, you’ll need to use extra caution when handling due to their small size.



Parrotlets are sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females can be easily identified by their colors. Male parrotlets will have darker blue wings, a splash of blue on the backside. They will exhibit a mask of lime green and blue and have some blue on their rump. Females are dark green with blue on their faces.

Featured Image Credit by Midnight-Sight, Shutterstock

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