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Parrots

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Quick Facts

•There are about 372 different parrot species, mostly living in tropical areas.

•Parrots have curved bills (beaks), strong legs, clawed feet and often brightly coloured.

•Parrots are believed to be one of the most intelligent bird species, well known for imitating human voices.

•Most parrot species rely on seeds as food. Others may eat fruit, buds, nuts, snails, nectar, flowers or small insects.

•Parrots such as the budgerigar (budgie) and cockatiel are popular as pets.

•There are 21 different species of cockatoo.

•Cockatoos usually have black, grey or white plumage (feathers).

•The flag of Dominica features the sisserou parrot.

Intro

The parrots are a broad order of estimated 372 birds. Macaws, Amazons, lorikeets, lovebirds, cockatoos and many others are all considered parrots.

Though there is great diversity among these birds, there are similarities as well. All parrots have curved beaks and all are zygodactyls, meaning they have four toes on each foot, two pointing forward and two projecting backward.

Parrots are found in warm climates all over most of the world. The greatest diversities exist in Australasia, Central America, and South America.

Many parrots are kept as pets, especially macaws, Amazon parrots, cockatiels, parakeets, and cockatoos. These birds have been popular companions throughout history because they are intelligent, charismatic, colorful, and musical. Some birds can imitate many nonavian sounds, including human speech. The male African gray parrot (Psittacus erithacus) is the most accomplished user of human speech in the animal world; this rain forest-dweller is an uncanny mimic.

Currently the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) bans the sale of any wild-caught species, yet the parrots’ popularity continues to drive illegal trade. Some parrot species are highly endangered. In other cases, once tame, birds have reproduced in the wild and established thriving feral populations in foreign ecosystems. The monk (green) parakeet, for example, now lives in several U.S. states.

Types Of Parrots

Macaw

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-11-02-13-amMacaws are beautiful, brilliantly colored members of the parrot family and are famous in the movie Rio. Many have vibrant plumage. The coloring is suited to life in Central and South American rain forests, with their green canopies and colorful fruits and flowers. The birds boast large, powerful beaks that easily crack nuts and seeds, while their dry, scaly tongues have a bone inside them that makes them an effective tool for tapping into fruits.

Macaws also have gripping toes that they use to latch onto branches and to grab, hold, and examine items. The birds sport graceful tails that are typically very long. Macaws are intelligent, social birds that often gather in flocks of 10 to 30 individuals. Their loud calls, squawks, and screams echo through the forest canopy. They vocalize to communicate within the flock, mark territory, and identify one another.

Flocks sleep in the trees at night, and in the morning they may fly long distances to feed, some species also eat damp soil, which may help to neutralize chemicals in their fruity diet and ease their stomachs. Macaws typically mate for life. They not only breed with, but also share food with their mates and enjoy mutual grooming. In breeding season, mothers incubate eggs while fathers hunt and bring food back to the nest.

There are 17 species of macaws, and several are endangered. These playful birds are popular pets, and many are illegally trapped for that trade. The rain forest homes of many species are also disappearing at an alarming rate. Hyacinth, red-fronted, and blue-throated macaws are seriously endangered. The glaucus macaw and Spix’s macaw may already be extinct in the wild.

COCKATOOS

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-11-04-10-amWith their perky crest and natural curiosity, cockatoos are among the most well-known and loved members of the parrot family. They are found in Australia and the smaller island countries to the north and west, and they live in forested areas of all types, from eucalyptus groves to pine forests and rain forests. They can also live in the lower slopes of mountain areas as well as mangroves and open country lands to feed on grass seeds.

Cockatoos prefer to eat seeds, tubers, corms, fruit, flowers and insects. They often feed in large flocks, particularly when ground-feeding. Cockatoos are monogamous and nest in tree hollows. Some cockatoo species have been adversely affected by habitat loss, particularly from a shortage of suitable nesting hollows after large mature trees are cleared; conversely, some species have adapted well to human changes and are considered agricultural pests

LORIES AND LORIKEETS

loresA re small to medium-sized arboreal parrots characterized by their specialized brush-tipped tongues for feeding on nectar of various blossoms and soft fruits, preferably berries. The species form a monophyletic group within the parrot family Psittacidae. Traditionally, they were considered a separate subfamily (Loriinae) from the other subfamily (Psittacinae) based on the specialized characteristics, but recent molecular and morphological studies show that the group is positioned in the middle of various other groups. They are widely distributed throughout the Australasian region, including south-eastern Asia, Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Australia, and the majority have very brightly coloured plumage.

There are differences between lories and lorikeets, especially if you compare tails. In general, lories are bigger, with tails that are short, rounded, or square. Lorikeets tend to be smaller, with longer, pointed tails. Most lories are red with patches of yellow, purple, and green; most lorikeets are green with patches of red and yellow. There are, of course, exceptions, and these birds can be found in all the colors of the rainbow

AMAZON PARROT

amazonIs the common name for a parrot of the genus Amazona. These are medium-size parrots native to the New World ranging from South America to Mexico and the Caribbean. Most amazon parrots are predominantly green, with accenting colors that depend on the species and can be quite vivid. They feed primarily on seeds, nuts, and fruits, supplemented by leafy matter.

Amazon parrots have a remarkable ability to mimic human speech and other sounds. Partly because of this they are popular as pets or companion parrots, and a small industry has developed in breeding parrots in captivity for this market. This popularity has led to many parrots being taken from the wild to the extent that some species have become threatened. CITES treaties have made the capture of wild parrots for the pet trade illegal in an attempt to help protect wild populations.

LOVE BIRD & KAKAPOS

lovebirdAre pint-sized bundles of joy. They have the full personality of parrots while being easy to house because of their size. Lovebirds are little clowns, playing for hours at a time. They love to hang from toys, spin them around, and dance on your shoulder. Watch out for your buttons! They love to pull them off your shirts! They love to snuggle and preen. Many people believe lovebirds must be kept in pairs. This is simply not true. A single lovebird makes a better pet because it bonds to you rather than to another lovebird.The Nine Species of Lovebirds are; Madagascar Lovebird, Red-Faced Lovebird, Abyssinian Lovebird, Swindern’s Lovebird, Peach-faced Lovebird, Nyasa Lovebird, Black-checked Lovebird, Fischer’s Lovebird and the Masked Lovebird.

New Zealand is home to some very unique parrots including the kea, kaka and kakapo. Keas are large, intelligent parrots that live in alpine areas of New Zealand’s South Island. They are the world’s only alpine parrot and are known for their curious and sometimes cheeky behaviour near ski fields where they like to investigate bags, steal small items and damage cars.

Kakapos are critically endangered flightless parrots, as of 2010 only around 130 are known to exist. They are active at night (nocturnal) and feed on a range of seeds, fruit, plants and pollen. Kakapos are also the world’s heaviest parrot.

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