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Parrot (Parrotuise lailia)

The parrot, also known as psittacines, is a medium sized group of birds, being best known for vivid, colorful feathers, the ability of some species to talk, as these species of parrots are able to mimic sounds made by other animals and even human speech. There are thought to be over 350 species of parrot worldwide, of great diversity in color and size, ranging across tropical and subtropical rainforest regions of the Southern Hemisphere. The parrot can grow between 8cm and 1m, depending on the parrot species. The pygmy parrot is the smallest species of parrot in the world, growing to around the same size as an adult human's finger. The pygmy parrot is found in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. The Hyacinth Macaw is the largest species of parrot in the world, growing to more than a meter in height and native to the jungles of central and eastern South America. However, the endangered kakapo of New Zealand can often be heavier than the Hyacinth Macaw, with the kakapo often reaching more than 3kg in weight.

Macaws, Amazon parrots, cockatiels, parakeets, and cockatoos are the most popular pet parrots. Though there is great diversity among these birds, there are similarities as well. Parrots are identifiable by a number of their features, the brightly coloured feathers of the parrot being the most obvious one. Parrots are known to have sharp, curved beaks which help parrots to crack nuts open more easily and to access fruits on the trees. Parrots also have strong legs, but are most well known for the fact that there are four toes on each of the parrot's two feet, two of these toes face forwards and the other two toes face backwards. These remarkable feet help the parrot not only to perch on tree branches more easily but also aid the parrot in climbing tree trunks or clambering through the dense jungle foliage.

The most important components of most parrots' diets are seeds, nuts, fruit, buds and other plant material. A few species sometimes eat animals and carrion, while the lories and lorikeets are specialised for feeding on floral nectar and soft fruits. The most important of these for most true parrots and cockatoos are seeds; the evolution of the large and powerful bill can be explained primarily as an adaptation to opening and consuming seeds. All true parrots except the Pesquet's Parrot employ the same method to obtain the seed from the husk; the seed is held between the mandibles and the lower mandible crushes the husk, whereupon the seed is rotated in the bill and the remaining husk is removed. A foot is sometimes used to help holding large seeds in place. Parrots are seed predators rather than seed dispersers; and in many cases where species are recorded as consuming fruit they are only eating the fruit to get at the seed.

Although there are a few exceptions, parrots are monogamous breeders which nest in cavities and hold no territories other than their nesting sites. The pair bonds of the parrots and cockatoos are strong and a pair will remain close even during the non-breeding season, even if they join larger flocks. As with many birds, pair bond formation is preceded by courtship displays; these are relatively simple in the case of cockatoos. In Psittacidae parrots common breeding displays, usually undertaken by the male, include slow deliberate steps known as a "parade" or "stately walk" and the "eye-blaze", where the pupil of the eye constricts to reveal the edge of the iris. Allopreening is used by the pair to help maintain the bond. Cooperative breeding, where birds other than the breeding pair help the pair raise the young and is common in some bird families, is extremely rare in parrots, and has only unambiguously been demonstrated in the Golden Parakeet (which may also exhibit polyamorous, or group breeding, behaviour with multiple females contributing to the clutch).

The eggs of parrots are white. In most species the female undertakes all the incubation, although incubation is shared in cockatoos, the Blue Lorikeet, and the Vernal Hanging Parrot. The female remains in the nest for almost all of the incubation period and is fed both by the male and during short breaks. Incubation varies from 17 to 35 days, with larger species having longer incubation periods. The newly born young are altricial, either lacking feathers or with sparse white down. The young spend anything from three weeks to four months in the nest, depending on species, and may receive parental care for several months thereafter. The macaws and other larger parrot species have low reproductive rates. They require several years to reach maturity, produce one or very few young per year, and do not necessarily breed every year.

Parrot Fun Facts

  • Most parrots are social birds living in flocks. They communicate through a series of loud screeching and squawking sounds.
  • While some parrots build regular nests, most build their homes in holes in trees, rock cavities, ground tunnels and even in termite mounds.
  • Parrots have been kept as pets for decades. Famous historical figures, such as Winston Churchill and King Henry VIII were parrot owners.
  • Only pets will mimic people and noises they hear. The African gray parrots are the best imitators of human speech.
  • In studies, African Grey Parrots have also been known to count, identify objects and even string together short sentences to answer complex questions.
  • Illegal trapping and trading of parrots has greatly hurt their numbers because many pet parrots were once wild. Due to this, several parrot species are highly endangered.
  • Pet Parrots are popular due to their sociable and affectionate nature, their intelligence, bright colours and their ability to imitate human voices.
  • The Budgerigar is a small parrot and is the most popular of all pet bird species.
  • Other parrot species that are kept as pets include macaws, Amazons, cockatoos, African Greys, lovebirds, cockatiels and parakeets.
  • African gray parrots are the best mimics. Wild parrots do not imitate.
  • Parrots are the only birds that can bring food to its mouth with its foot.
  • The biggest parrot is the Hyacinth Macaw which grows up to 39 inches long and can weigh almost 5 pounds.
  • The smallest is the buff-faced pygmy parrot which is only 3.5 inches tall and weighs as little as 0.4 oz.
  • There are 11 million pet parrots in the United States.

Did You Know?

  • A parrot that wants attention will clamber around the cage near the door and may sit right in front of the door, moving his head back and forth. This is the "please dance" and means he wants out. If he does the please dance while he's out, he wants your attention or something you have.
  • If your bird is used to being scratched on the head or neck, she may put her head down and ruffle her feathers, giving you the perfect spot to scratch.
  • Not only do parrots have complicated bodies, but they also have amazing minds. They come from interactive environments in the wild and need extremely interactive homes. Parrots not only need time outside of the cage, but activities to keep them happily occupied.

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