Parrotlets and lovebirds are two of the smallest groups of domestically owned parrots, and they look very similar to the naked eye.
They are often mistaken for one another, as lovebirds are quite a lot more famous and well known than parrotlets—but what is the difference between the two?
Lovebirds are a bit larger than parrotlets, by a couple of inches. Lovebirds are a bit easier to handle, with parrotlets having more aggressive tendencies. Parrotlets are also quieter than lovebirds, being the quietest species. Lovebirds have a high-pitched shriek, whereas parrotlets cannot squawk and just chirp quietly.
Naturally, these are two different species we are talking about, so there is a much longer list of differences between the two.
As for your purposes, though, these are some of the most important differences as far as what owning them will look like.
Let’s look at this in more detail.
Is a lovebird or parrotlet bigger?
Lovebirds are bigger than parrotlets by a small margin.
Parrotlets are usually around 5 inches long, which makes them the smallest of all parrot species.
Lovebirds are usually a couple of inches bigger than parrotlets, though some smaller individuals can be of a similar size to parrotlets.
Neither bird is very big, then, as you can see.
But parrotlets certainly live up to their name and are much smaller than lovebirds.
As I’ll get into, though, don’t be fooled into thinking that means they are easy to handle.
Parrotlets can still be a handful even in their small size, and often much more of a handful than lovebirds are.
Which one is louder, then?
Are lovebirds louder than parrotlets?
Yes, they are, although again not by much.
Parrotlets are capable of producing around 65 decibels at their loudest.
This will be just a standard part of their behavior.
Parrotlets may be the quietest of all parrot species, but they still make some pretty constant noise.
They go on throughout the day, chirping and singing away, and generally making noise.
This is something all parrots do, all the time.
That said, lovebirds certainly do make more noise than parrotlets.
They can produce around 85 decibels of sound, which may not sound like much more, but it is a pretty big step up on this particular scale.
They will also make noise throughout the day.
I would add, though, that parrotlets can be a bit higher maintenance than lovebirds.
This can often mean that noise problems with parrotlets are more of a concern because they will make excessive noise if they aren’t properly looked after.
Make sure they are well fed, have good bedtime habits, and have plenty of stimulation and companionship to keep them busy.
As long as a parrotlet’s needs are met, it will not be louder than a lovebird.
And that’s not to say that lovebirds are not high maintenance—however, it’s just generally easier to get them to keep quiet than it is parrotlets.
They will produce louder noise when happy, though, so that’s always important to bear in mind.
The amount of noise any parrot makes is directly proportional to the quality of its care and upbringing.
What about levels of affection?
Are lovebirds or parrotlets more affectionate?
Something like this will always depend on the individual bird.
Some parrotlet individuals will be more affectionate than some lovebird individuals, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, a complex emotional question like this does not have a simple answer.
In general, though, lovebirds are more likely to form deep attachments to you.
However, the bigger question hanging over this is about whether you have one parrot or just two.
For both of these parrots, it is generally a better idea, for their own welfare, to have a pair rather than just one.
This will likely mean that they become more bonded to one another than they do to you, but it’s probably better for their general wellbeing.
Both of these species of parrot are highly social creatures, and thus need a great deal of stimulation and interaction with another species.
If you’re prepared to spend the majority of waking hours with your bird, you can meet these needs.
Otherwise, your parrot will get bored and even lonely, even if you spend multiple hours a day interacting with it.
So, my advice would be to get a pair, so they can keep each other occupied and happy.
But this will mean they are more bonded to one another than they are to you, and thus they won’t be as affectionate towards you.
That said, lovebirds are probably somewhat more known for their affectionate nature.
Which is easier to keep a lovebird or a parrotlet?
Firstly, I would say that neither is going to be easy to keep without experience owning a parrot.
Neither make good first-time parrots, so keep that in mind.
You’ll want some experience before you try either of these.
That said, lovebirds are probably the easier of the two to keep.
They are not as aggressive, and if kept in a pair, that has come from a reputable breeder, then they will likely always be well-behaved and relatively easy to take care of.
Parrotlets tend to be far more problematic.
They are naturally aggressive to a degree, and only an experienced handler can be sure to properly socialize them at the right age to make sure they don’t carry this aggression into domestic life.
It’s also, of course, up to you to make sure their needs are met to the greatest possible standard in order to keep them happy.
Parrotlets can be a handful, then, despite their tiny size.
Of course, lovebirds can to, but to a lesser extent.
Neither are easy pets, though.
Can you put a lovebird and a parrotlet together?
It depends on a lot of things.
The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is not always.
If they are bonded from a young age, and kept together from that age, then they can certainly become bonded to one another and become lifelong friends.
However, there’s also a distinct chance that things will go south, somehow.
Both species can be quite aggressive, so that’s worth keeping in mind.
In the worst case, this can lead to fighting and even the death of one of the birds.
Again, don’t let their size and appearance fool you.
Both of these birds can and will attack if they feel threatened.
If you are putting the two together, then, you need to consult with the breeder, and also make sure to keep them under strict supervision as much as possible in the early stages.
Once they are a year or so old, and they show no aggressive tendencies, then they have most likely successfully bonded.
Personally, though, I would just stick to a single species.
There’s far less chance of aggression and fighting, and though they’ll still need to be carefully bonded, that bond is less likely to break as they mature.
Are lovebirds and parrotlets sexually dimorphic?
Another important difference between these two birds is their sexual dimorphism.
This means the degree to which males and females of a given species differ morphologically.
Parrotlets have considerable sexual dimorphism, whereas lovebirds more or less look uniform in both males and females.
This may not be one of the main differences you had in mind, but it’s interesting nonetheless!
Where are lovebirds native to?
What about where these two species are native?
That’s another important difference that explains their many other differences.
Lovebirds are natives of Africa, being found in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa as well as on the island of Madagascar.
Fossils of lovebird relatives dating back almost 2 million years have been found in South Africa.
Where are parrotlets native to?
Parrotlets, on the other hand, are natives of the Americas.
They are found throughout Central and South America and are found in the largest numbers in Peru and Ecuador.
They inhabit rainforests and often gather in very large flocks of up to 100 individuals.
So, it’s a pretty significant difference that they come from completely different continents!
Though they might look quite similar to the naked eye, parrotlets and lovebirds are two very different species.
They make different amounts of noise, they are different sizes, they have wildly different temperaments and, thus, different needs.
Neither are great as a first-time bird but lovebirds are certainly better in that arena, and they both originate from different parts of the world.