Parrots ( psittacines ) - Can a parrot speak?

Phylum :- Chordata
Class :- Aves
Clade :- Psittacopasserae
Order :- Psittaciformes

Parrots, also known as psittacines, are tropical and subtropical birds that belong to the order Psittaciformes, which includes 398 species in 92 genera. Psittacidae ("real" parrots), Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and Strigopoidea (strigopoidea) are the three superfamilies that make up the order (New Zealand parrots). One-third of all parrot species are endangered, and parrots have the highest overall extinction risk (IUCN Red List Index) of any bird group. Parrots are found across the world, with numerous species residing in temperate zones of the Southern Hemisphere. South America and Australasia have the most diverse parrot populations. Since ancient times, parrots have been kept as cage birds, and they have always been popular because they are entertaining, intelligent, and friendly.

A powerful, curved beak, an erect stance, robust legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet are all characteristics of parrots. Many parrots have bright colors, and others have many colors. In the visual spectrum, most parrots show little or no sexual dimorphism. In terms of length, they are the most diverse bird order.

Seeds, nuts, berries, buds, and other plant materials are the most essential components of most parrots' diets. A few species consume animals and carrion sometimes, but lories and lorikeets specialize upon flower nectar and soft fruits. Almost all parrots lay white eggs in tree hollows (or nest boxes in captivity) from which altricial (helpless) chicks hatch.

Parrots, like ravens, crows, jays, and magpies, are among the most intellectual birds, and their ability to mimic human speech adds to their attractiveness as pets. Hunting, habitat degradation, and competition from alien species have all contributed to the decline of wild parrot populations, with parrots being exposed to greater exploitation than any other group of birds. Many of the less iconic species residing in the same ecosystems have been preserved as a result of measures made to conserve the habitats of some high-profile charismatic species.

Amazon parrots (Amazona)

Amazon parrots, for example, are excellent mimics (Amazona)., with somewhat erectile crown feathers and a short, squared tail. Their mostly green plumage is accented with brilliant colors, especially on the top head, and both sexes have similar appearances. Tropical forests of the West Indies, Mexico, and northern South America are home to Amazon parrots. They're tough to breed and maybe squawky as well as hostile.

World Parrot Day

World Parrot Day is observed every year on May 31.


The variety of Psittaciformes in South America and Australasia shows that the order arose in Gondwana, which was centered in Australasia. The lack of parrots in the fossil record, on the other hand, makes it impossible to support the notion. In the early Cenozoic, there are now more fossil remains from the northern hemisphere. Molecular evidence suggests that parrots developed in Gondwana around 59 million years ago (Mya) (range 66–51 Mya). Neotropical parrots split into three main clades at 50 Mya (range 57–41 Mya).

A single 15 mm (0.6 in) piece from a big lower bill (UCMP 143274) discovered in the Lance Creek Formation in Niobrara County, Wyoming, was previously considered to be the earliest parrot fossil. It is thought to date from the Late Cretaceous era, some 70 million years ago. Other studies, on the other hand, suggest that this fossil is from a caenagnathid oviraptorosaur (a non-avian dinosaur with a birdlike beak), as several details of the fossil used to support its identity as a parrot are not exclusive to parrots, and it differs from the earliest-known unequivocal parrot fossils.

A supposed parrot relative's fossil skull from Wyoming's Eocene Green River Formation. 
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Around 50 million years ago, in tropical Eocene Europe, the first uncontroversial parrot fossils were discovered. Initially, the Psittaciformes were attributed to a neoavian called Mopsitta tanta, which was discovered in Denmark's Early Eocene Fur Formation and dated to 54 mya. However, the bone isn't clearly psittaciform, and it might instead be from the ibis species Rhynchaeites, whose fossil legs were discovered in the same sediments.

Several fairly complete skeletons of parrot-like birds have been found in England and Germany. These are probably not transitional fossils between ancestral and modern parrots, but rather lineages that evolved parallel to true parrots and cockatoos


The buff-faced pygmy parrot weighs only 10 g (0.4 oz) and measures 8 cm (3.1 in) in length,149 whereas the hyacinth macaw measures 1 m (3.3 ft) in length, and the kakapo weighs 4.0 kg (8.8 lb). The three surviving Strigopoidea species are all huge parrots, and cockatoos are also large birds. The Psittacoidea parrots are significantly more diverse, spanning the whole size range of the family.

The buff-faced pygmy parrot Micropsitta pusio )
Hyacinth macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus )

The robust, curved, wide bill is the most noticeable physical feature. The upper mandible is prominent, with a downward curvature and a tip at the end. It is not connected to the skull, allowing it to move freely and contributing to the enormous biting pressure the birds can apply. The biting force of a giant macaw, for example, is 35 kg/cm2 (500 lb/sq in), comparable to that of a large dog. The lower mandible is shorter and has a strong, upward-facing cutting edge that slides anvil-like against the flat section of the upper jaw. The inner margins of the keratinized bill include touch receptors.

Cockatoos have a moveable crest of feathers on top of their heads that they can raise and lower for show. No other parrots can ruffle their crown and nape feathers, although Pacific lorikeets of the genera Vini and Phigys can, and the red-fan parrot (or hawk-headed parrot) has a noticeable feather neck frill that it can raise and lower at will. Green is the most common color in parrot plumage, while most species include some red or another color in minor amounts. Cockatoos, on the other hand, are mostly black or white with a splash of red, pink, or yellow. With a few notable exceptions, such as the Eclectus parrot, strong sexual dimorphism in plumage is not frequent among parrots. However, several parrot species have been demonstrated to have sexually dimorphic plumage in the UV spectrum, which is generally undetectable to humans.

Parrots have powerful zygodactyl feet (two toes facing forward and two toes facing back) with sharp, extended claws that help them climb and swing. Most parrots are capable of manipulating food and other things with dexterity comparable to that of a human's hands. Adult parrots are nearly entirely "left-footed" or "right-footed," and the prevalence of either preference among the population varies by species, according to research done with Australian parrots.

List of parrots


Macaws ( Ara )

Australia and Oceania, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central America, South America, and Africa are just a few of the tropical and subtropical continents and locations where parrots may be found. Endangered species can be found on several Caribbean and Pacific islands. Australasia and South America have the largest number of parrot species. Lories and lorikeets may be found all over the world, from Sulawesi and the Philippines in the north to Australia and as far as French Polynesia in the south, with the highest diversity in and around New Guinea. All neotropical parrots, including amazons, macaws, and conures, belong to the Arinae subfamily, which spans northern Mexico and the Bahamas to Tierra del Fuego in southern South America. The Micropsittini tribe of pygmy parrots is a tiny genus found only in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Sun conure ( Aratinga solstitialis )

All neotropical parrots, including amazons, macaws, and conures, belong to the Arinae subfamily, which spans northern Mexico and the Bahamas to Tierra del Fuego in southern South America. The Micropsittini tribe of pygmy parrots is a tiny genus found only in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Three extant species of aberrant parrots from New Zealand belong to the Strigopoidea superfamily. The Platycercinae subfamily of broad-tailed parrots is limited to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands as far east as Fiji. Psittacoidea is the genuine parrot superfamily, which comprises species from Australia and New Guinea to South Asia and Africa. Cockatoo biodiversity is centered in Australia and New Guinea, while some species make their way to the Solomon Islands (including one that used to live in New Caledonia), Wallacea, and the Philippines.

Temperate regions of South America and New Zealand are home to a variety of parrots. The Thick-billed Parrot, Green parakeet, and now-extinct Carolina parakeet have all been known to live as far north as the southern United States. Many parrots have been imported to temperate climes and have developed permanent populations in places like New York City, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain, and Greece. These birds may thrive in new environments, like the non-native red-crowned amazon population in the United States, which may match that of their home Mexico. The Kea, which is indigenous to New Zealand's South Island's Southern Alps mountain region, is the only parrot that can live in alpine conditions.

Cockatoo ( Cacatuidae )


There are several difficulties in researching wild parrots since they are difficult to catch and mark once caught. The majority of wild bird research relies on banding or wing tagging, but parrots eat these attachments. Parrots also have a wide variety of behavior, thus there are numerous gaps in our understanding of them. The flight of certain parrots is powerful and straight. The majority of species spend a significant amount of time perched or climbing in tree canopies. Climbing is generally accomplished by grabbing or snagging on branches and other supports with their bills. Parrots frequently move with a rolling motion on the ground.

Foods and Diet

Seeds, fruit, nectar, pollen, buds, and occasionally arthropods and other animal prey make up a parrot's diet. For most real parrots and cockatoos, the most essential of them are seeds; the huge and strong bill has developed to open and ingest difficult seeds. Except for the Pesquet's parrot, all real parrots use the same technique to extract the seed from the husk: the seed is held between the mandibles, the lower mandible smashes the husk, the seed is rotated in the bill, and the remaining husk is removed. They may use their foot to hold huge seeds in place on occasion. Parrots are granivores, not seed dispersers, and many times when they are observed eating fruit, they are just doing so to get at the seed. Seed coatings and other chemically guarded fruit pieces are meticulously removed by parrots before eating, as seeds typically include toxins to protect them. Clay is consumed by several species in the Americas, Africa, and Papua New Guinea, releasing minerals and absorbing harmful chemicals from the stomach.

Lories, lorikeets, hanging parrots, and swift parrots are nectar and pollen eaters with brush-tipped tongues and specialized stomach adaptations. When nectar is accessible, many other species use it as well.

Particularly invertebrate larvae are prey for several parrot species. Golden-winged parakeets eat water snails, the New Zealand kea hunts adult sheep on rare occasions, and the Antipodes parakeet, another New Zealand parrot, raids nesting grey-backed storm petrel tunnels and kills the incubating adults. Some cockatoos, such as the New Zealand kaka, dig up branches and wood to eat grubs; the yellow-tailed black cockatoo's diet consists primarily of insects.


Parrot Mating

Parrots are monogamous breeders who nest in cavities and do not have any territories outside of their nesting locations, with a few exceptions. Parrots and cockatoos have strong pair ties, and even if they join bigger groups, a couple stays close during the nonbreeding season. Courtship displays, which are quite simple in cockatoos, precede the establishment of pair bonds, as they do in many species. Slow, deliberate movements known as a "parade" or "stately walk" and the "eye-blaze," in which the pupil of the eye constricts to show the border of the iris, are prominent breeding displays in Psittacidae parrots, which are normally carried out by the male.

Egg Hatching 
 A New Born Parrot

Only the monk parakeet and five lovebird species make nests in trees, whereas three Australian and New Zealand ground parrots build nests on the ground. All other parrots and cockatoos build their nests in cavities carved into cliffs, banks, or the ground, or in tree hollows. In the Americas, the utilization of cliff holes is more widespread. Termite nests are used by several species, either to hide their breeding sites or to produce a favorable microclimate. Both parents are usually involved in the nest excavating process. The burrow's length varies per species, although it's normally between 0.5 and 2 meters (1.6 and 6.6 feet). Sticks, wood chips, and other plant materials are frequently used to line the nests of cockatoos. The availability of nesting hollows in bigger parrots and cockatoos may be restricted, resulting in fierce rivalry for them both within and between species, as well as with other bird groups. In some circumstances, the level of competition might reduce breeding success. Arborists have been effective in increasing breeding rates in certain regions by artificially creating hollows. The burrowing parrot, for example, breeds in colonies of up to 70,000 individuals. Colonialism is less widespread in parrots than one might assume, presumably because most species prefer to exploit existing cavities rather than dig their own.

Parrot Nest 

Parrot eggs are white. In most species, the female is responsible for all incubation, however, in cockatoos, blue lorikeets, and vernal hanging parrots, incubation is shared. The female stays in the nest for nearly the whole incubation period, being fed by both the male and during short pauses. Incubation times range from 17 to 35 days, with longer incubation times for bigger species. The newly born young are altricial, having scant white down or no feathers. Depending on the species, the young spend three to four months in the nest and may get parental care for several months beyond that.


Some grey parrots have demonstrated the ability to link words to their meanings and construct simple sentences. Parrots are among the most intellectual birds, along with crows, ravens, and jays (family Corvidae). Psittacines and services have a brain-to-body size ratio that is comparable to that of higher primates. Birds use the mediorostral HVC for cognition rather than the cerebral cortex, as mammals do. Not only have parrots proven intelligence via scientific testing of their linguistic skills, but some species, such as the kea, are also very competent at utilizing tools and solving puzzles.

Many parrots are capable of mimicking human speech and other noises. According to research by scientist Irene Pepperberg, a grey parrot named Alex has a remarkable learning ability. Alex was taught to use words to identify, describe, and count items, as well as to answer complicated questions like "How many red squares?" With greater than 80% accuracy. Another grey parrot, N'kisi, has been found to have a vocabulary of about a thousand words, as well as the capacity to invent and utilize words in context in the proper tenses.

Parrots lack vocal cords, sound is produced by blowing air over the mouth of the trachea in the syrinx organ. Changing the depth and form of the trachea produces different sounds. Grey parrots have been popular pets since ancient times because of their excellent ability to replicate noises and human speech.

Relationship with humans


The parrots' ability to mimic human speech, as well as their vivid colors and elegance, entice unwary customers to make impulse purchases. The budgerigar, a little parrot that has been tamed, is the most popular of all pet bird species. The publication USA Today reported in 1992 that there were 11 million pet birds in the United States alone, many of them parrots. Europeans maintained birds that resembled the rose-ringed parakeet (also known as the ring-necked parrot), which was first described in a first-century account by Pliny the Elder.

They've been admired for their beauty and capacity to communicate for thousands of years, but they've also been misinterpreted. Some importers, for example, made parrots drink only coffee while being sent by sea, believing that clean water was harmful and that their methods would enhance survival rates during transportation, according to author Wolfgang de Grahl in his 1987 book The Grey Parrot. It is now widely acknowledged that coffee contains caffeine, which is hazardous to birds.

Some big parrot species, such as huge cockatoos, amazons, and macaws, have been known to live for over 100 years, with some living up to 80 years. Lovebirds, hanging parrots, and budgies are little parrots with shorter lifespans of 15–20 years. Some parrot species may be rather noisy, and many of the larger parrots can be destructive, necessitating a large cage and a constant supply of fresh toys, branches, and other chewable materials. Because of their intelligence, parrots learn tricks and other behaviors quickly, both good and negative, that gain them what they desire, such as attention or rewards.


The appeal of parrots as pets has resulted in a robust — and often illegal — parrot trade, and certain species are now endangered. The combination of wild bird capturing and habitat destruction makes life difficult, if not impossible, for several parrot species. The Wild Bird Population Act of 1992 made it unlawful to import wild-caught parrots into the United States and Europe.

Parrots Market

The Tony Silva case from 1996, in which a parrot specialist and former director of Tenerife's Loro Parque (Europe's largest parrot park) was sentenced to 82 months in prison and fined $100,000 in the United States for importing hyacinth macaws, demonstrates the scope of the problem (such birds command a very high price.)


For thousands of years, parrots have appeared in human literature, stories, art, humor, religion, and music, such as Aesop's tale "The parrot and the cat" and the Masnavi by Rumi of Persia's "The Merchant and the Parrot" in 1250. Parrot Society is a recent book about parrots in human culture.

Parrot feathers have been used in rituals and for ornamentation since ancient times. They have a long history as pets that dates back thousands of years, and they were frequently kept as a sign of power or riches. In modern Polynesian folklore in the Marquesas Islands, the hero Laka/Aka is said to have embarked on a long and perilous journey to Altona in what is now the Cook Islands in order to gather the highly treasured red parrot feathers as gifts for his son and daughter. On the trip to Aotona, 100 of his 140 rowers perished of starvation, but the survivors collected enough parrots to fill 140 sacks with their feathers.

Parrots have also been revered as sacred creatures. The ancient Peruvian Moche people revered birds and frequently featured parrots in their art. Parrots are mentioned frequently in Buddhist literature, and there are several texts about them. Amitbha, for example, once disguised himself as a parrot in order to convert others. Another old myth is that when a forest caught fire, the parrot was so worried that it carried water to put out the fire. When the lord of heaven saw the parrot's behavior, he was so moved that he sent rain to put out the fire. A parrot is sometimes represented hovering on the top right side of Guan Yin, clasping a pearl or prayer beads in its beak in Chinese Buddhist art. Nations and nationalism are represented by parrots. Dominica's flag has a parrot, and its coat of arms features two parrots. The national bird of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean country, is the St. Vincent parrot.

The present English language is peppered with parrot proverbs. The dictionary definition of the verb "parrot" is "to repeat by rote." There are other clich├ęs like the British idiom "sick as a parrot," which, while referring to intense disappointment rather than illness, may have originated from the disease psittacosis, which may be transmitted to people. In Aphra Behn's 1681 drama The False Count, a related term appears for the first time. Jimmy Buffett's fans are known as parrot heads. Parrots appear in a variety of media. Parrots as pets and parrot conservation are topics covered in magazines. Monty Python's "Dead Parrot comedy," Home Alone 3, and Rio are examples of fictional media, whereas documentaries include The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Conservation and threats

Parrots are primarily threatened by habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and, in certain cases, the wild-bird trade. Parrots are endangered because they are (or have been) hunted for food and feathers, as well as agricultural pests in some places. For a while, Argentina placed a bounty on monk parakeets, for this reason, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of birds, though the total population appears to have been unaffected.

Parrots are cavity nesters, they are vulnerable to the loss of nesting sites and competition for those sites from imported species. In certain regions, as in Australia, where ideal nesting trees must be centuries old, the loss of ancient trees is a significant challenge. Many parrots are exclusively found on islands, and, therefore, are vulnerable to imported animals like rats and feral cats because they lack the antipredator behaviors needed to deal with predators. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, are also a threat to island species like the Puerto Rican Amazon, which have small numbers in limited environments. Despite conservation efforts, the Puerto Rican amazon remains one of the world's rarest birds due to deforestation.

Several efforts dedicated to parrot conservation have been successful. The population of fragile kakapo has grown from 50 to 123 individuals thanks to translocation, careful management, and additional nutrition. The Ouvea parakeet was threatened in New Caledonia by trapping for the pet trade and habitat degradation. The population has grown from roughly 600 birds in 1993 to over 2000 birds in 2009 because of community-based conservation, which has eradicated the threat of poaching.

The IUCN recognizes 19 parrot species as extinct since 1500 as of 2009. This excludes species such as the New Caledonian lorikeet, which hasn't been officially spotted in almost a century yet is nonetheless classified as severely endangered.

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