ParrotsParrots have been valued as cage birds and pets since ancient times. the earliest account of a pet parrot is a Greek description of a Plum-headed parakeet dating from about 400 BC. The parrot was discovered to have the ability to speak the language of its homeland, India, and also observed that it could be taught to speak Greek.  From then on, it seems, exotically colored talking parrots became favorite status symbols among the ruling classes of Greece, Rome, and Europe.

Later, in the 15th and 16th centuries, explorations in the New World brought to light many new parrot species, and these and subsequent discoveries in the East Indies and Australia helped to fuel the interest of European collectors. Nowadays, a huge range of species is kept in captivity and, unfortunately, the avid culturist’s obsession with novel or exotic forms is undoubtedly accelerating the extinction of some species. The budgerigar of Australia is the only species of parrot that has been truly domesticated. After the dog and cat, it is probably the most common household pet in western countries.

The parrots form a distinctive and fairly uniform order of birds comprising the single-family Psittacidae. Because of their many unique and specialized features, it is difficult to determine the relationship between parrots and other groups of birds. They are usually, however, classified somewhere Between pigeons and ducks.e.s.their affinity with either of At best, tenuous and indistinct:-gests that parrots diverged from, refugees at a comparatively early evolution. The earliest known parrot is a single-leg bone-psittacosis verreauxi, a lower Mioce of some 30 million years old. Parrots have widely distributed tropics and the Southern Hems of North America. At one time the most northerly repressor of the family. 

ParrotsThis title now belongs to the Slate–parakeet of eastern Afghanistan there are more northerly popular__introduced species such as the parakeet in the eastern USA. Tie: T, Fuego, the home of the Austral Larks the southern limit of parrot clips, on. The Rose-ringed parakeet has the widest geographical distribution of ar_: rot. Its range extends from North to the Far East and, recently, it has introduced accidentally to parts of Ethel parrot with the most restricted -distribution is probably Stephen’s small species confined to the 35s:(13.5sq mi) Henderson Island in the Pacific. By far the largest number of defied species of parrot is found in South Arnenat. and Australasia, whereas relatively few small species occur in Africa and Asia.

All parrots share a number of features in common. The most obvious 7. these are the characteristic parrot bill phi, which consists of a downward-curving arm and a somewhat hooked upper mandible whit fits neatly over a smaller, upward-curving lower mandible. The upper half of the bills are attached to the skull by a special kind of hinge and this gives it greater mobility and: leverage. The parrot bill is a highly adaptable structure. It can be used to perform deli-cater tasks such as preening, but sometimes is powerful enough to crush the hardest nuts and seeds. The bill also serves as a third “foot” —a kind of grappling hook which the bird uses in conjunction with its feet when clambering about among the treetops. In the Great-billed parrot of Indonesia, the bill is abnormally large and bright red in color. This conspicuous structure presumably serves as some kind of visual display.

ParrotsThe feet of parrots are also unusual: the two outer toes of the foot point backward and grip in opposition to the two forward-pointing inner toes. This arrangement (zygodactyls) not only provides parrots with an extremely powerful grasp but also enables them to use their feet-like hands for holding and manipulating objects close to the tithe bill. In terms of manual dexterity, parrots are unsurpassed by any other group of birds. However, this ability is absent in species that feed habitually on the ground.

Like humans, parrots also display both right- and left-handedness, or rather, footedness. In one study it was found that out of a flock of 56 Brown-throated conures, 28 consistently used the right foot to hold food while the other 28 used the left. When walking along a perch or on the ground, most parrots are noticeably pigeon-toed and have a characteristic and somewhat comical swaggering gait.

ParrotsParrots are variable in their powers of light. In general, the flight is swift and direct in small species and relatively slow and laborious in larger ones. There are, however, some notable exceptions. The South American macaws, for instance, are fast fliers despite their size. Species such as the budgerigar and many of the Lories are highly nomadic and are capable of flying considerable distances in search of food. The Swift parrot and Blue-winged parrot, both from southeastern Australia, are migratory and every year fly across the Bass Strait— a distance of 2ookm (124mi) —in order to breed in Tasmania. As its name implies, the Swift Parrot flies with exceptional speed and directness.

Differences in flying ability in parrots are linked with differences in the wing structure. Generally speaking, species that fly rapidly have comparatively narrow, taper-in wings, while the wings of slow-flying forms are correspondingly broad and blunt. The kakapo of New Zealand has very short wings and is the only parrot that is entirely flightless. The structure of the tailing parrots is highly variable. In macaws and in the Papuan lorry, tails are especially longhand elegant and may comprise almost two-thirds of the bird’s total length.

ParrotsLong tails like this probably serve an important signal-ling function. At the other extreme, the tailor the Blue-crowned hanging parrot is so short and blunt that it is almost concealed by the tail coverts. The racket-tailed parrots of Indonesia and the Philippines have distinctive elongated central tail feathers which consist of long, bare shafts with flat-tined spoon-shaped tips. The function of these unusual tail structures is unknown. The tail feathers of the New Guinea pygmy parrots also terminate in short bare shafts. These are stiffened and help to support these tiny birds when they are climbing about and feeding on tree trunks.

Parrots are renowned for their gaudy plumage, and some of the larger, tropical species such as the South American macaws are undoubtedly among the most brilliantly colored of all birds. Despite this, the majority of species are predominantly green and farewell camouflaged among the foliage in which they live. The large cockatoos of Australia are highly conspicuous. Most of the have prominent erectile crests on their heads, and they are generally white, salmon-pink, or black in color. Males and females in the majority of parrots are either very similar or identical in appearance. However, there are some notable exceptions to this rule.

ParrotsFor example, males of the Australian king parrot have brilliant scarlet plumage, whereas females and juveniles are almost entirely green. In the Eclectic parrot of New Guinea and Australia, males and females are so different in coloration that for many years they were thought to belong to different species. Males are bright emerald green with scarlet underlings and flanks, while the female is a rich crimson red withal a violet-blue belly and lower breast. This species is also unique among parrots in that the female is gaudier and more conspicuous than the male.

The vast majority of parrots are very much tree-dwellers, and they tend to be most plentiful in and around lowland tropical forests. A number, such as the badger-gar of Australia and Fischer’s lovebird feast Africa, inhabit more open, grassy habitats, but even these species are generally never seen very far from the cover of trees. Two exceptions are the completely terrestrial Ground and Night parrots of Australia.  The former inhabits coastal heaths and sand dunes; and the latter, which until very recently was thought to be extinct, is confined to arid desert grassland. Although parrots are generally less com-moon at high altitudes, several distinctive species are restricted to mountains. These include the Papuan lorry from New Guinea, the Derby and parakeet from the Himalayas, the Yellow-faced parrot from Ethiopia, and the Sierra parakeet from the South American Andes.

ParrotsThe kea of the Southern Alps of New Zeal-land is perhaps the most unusual of all high-land forms. These large bronze birds live among snow-covered mountains between 600 and 2,000M (2, 000-6,5ooft), and appear to enjoy rolling and frolicking in the snow. Around ski resorts and human habitations, they are bold and inquisitive and have been known to enter buildings through chimneys in order to steal food. In addition to their normal vegetarian diet, keas have also taken to feeding on rubbish tips and carrion, and they have even
Acquired a widespread though exaggerated reputation for killing sheep.

Seeds and fruits of various kinds make up the diet of the majority of parrots; although the Lories and lorikeets of Australasia specialize in feeding on tree pollen and nectar. Most parrots procure their food in the treetops, where their zygodactyl ous feet and hooked bills enable them to climb about with extraordinary skill and agility. However, some of the smaller parakeets, parrotlets, and lovebirds feed extensively on grass seeds on or near the ground. Parrots have a reputation for extreme longevity. In captivity, some of the larger species live for 30-5o years, and so years have even been reported in some cases. Generally speaking, the smaller species have much shorter life spans. Most parrots attain sexual maturity between their second and fourth years.

ParrotsThe timing and duration of the breeding season in parrots depend very much on their geographic location and on the principal types of food on which they depend. In general, species living outside the tropics, where food availability tends to be seasonal, have more regular and better-defined breeding seasons than those in tropical regions. For instance, the Purple-crowned lorikeet of southern Australia breeds from August to December, whereas the varied lorikeet from Australia’s northern tropics will breed at any time of the year. Most parrots are monogamous, and males and females often pair for life.

ParrotsPairs remain together constantly and the bond between them is reinforced by mutual feeding and preening. The details of courtship have only been described for a few species. Prior to copulation, the males of most species display to the females a variety of relatively simple movements and postures, including bowing, hopping, wing-flicking and flapping, tail-wagging, and strutting. Areas of conspicuous plumage are often incur-orated in these movements and, in many species, the brightly colored irises of the eye are expanded— a phenomenon known appropriately as “eye-blazing.” When the female is ready to mate she adopts a characteristic crouching position and allows them ale to mount.

The male’s attempts at copulation are often interspersed with curious treading movements performed on the female’s back. The function of these movements is unknown.

ParrotsThe two New Zealand species, the kea, and the kakapo or Owl parrot are both polygamous. In the former, males sometimes mate and share parental duties with several dif-ferment females at the same time. The mating system of the nocturnal kakapo is highly Unusual. The males congregate at night in specific areas, known as leeks, and advertise their location with loud booming calls. Females then visit these sites and mate with the male of their choice. As far as is known, male kakapos play no part in parental care.


Because it is flightless and therefore highly vulnerable to introduced domestic cats, the kakapo has vanished from the North Island of New Zealand and is almost extinct on the South Island, where a few individuals are known to survive still in Fordland. A small population of kakapos still exists on Stewart Island. And some of these have recently been transferred to Little Barrier Island. The majority of parrots—large and small—nest in holes in the limbs or trunks of trees, often at a considerable height above the ground. They either excavate themselves or steal from other hole-nesting species such as woodpeckers. The nest cavity is generally lined with a layer of decayed wood dust, although the African lovebirds and the hanging parrots of Asia line their nests with grasses, leaves, and strips of bark which the female collects and carries to the nest tucked under the feathers of her rump.

Termite colonies are also exploited as nest sites by a number of parrot species. The Golden-shouldered parrot of Australia excavates its nest burrow in terrestrial termite mounds, while the Buff-faced pygmy parrot of New Guinea makes its nest in tree-borne territorial. The termites presumably provide a certain amount of protection from predators.

ParrotsThe Rock parrot nests only under rocks just above the high-tide mark on the coast of southern Australia, while the Patagonian conure excavates nesting burrow up to 3m(r oft) long in the cliffs and river banks of Patagonia. The Ground parrot of Australia makes its nest in a shallow depression under a bush or grass tussock. Several species of parrot nest colonially. The Peach-faced lovebird either constructs its own nesting colonies from grasses and leaves or, more often, invades and takes over the existing colonies of weaver finches. Perhaps the most advanced nesting behavior among parrots is found in the South American Monk parakeet. This species nests communally in immense structures which they build from twigs on the tops of trees. Within the main structure, each pair has its own separateness chamber.

In all but a few species of parrot, the eggs are incubated exclusively by the female. The ale, however, keeps her supplied with food during this critical period. The young are blind and helpless when they hatch and develop rather slowly. In small species such as the budgerigar, they leave the nest 3-4 weeks after hatching, but in the much larger Blue-and-yellow macaw, the nestling period may be as long as 3 months. As a rule, both parents play an equal role in feeding the young. Juvenile parrots are generally noticeably smaller than adults of either’s and they also tend to have duller plumage colors.

ParrotsAlthough a few atypical species, such as the Australian Ground parrot, seem to be largely solitary, the vast majority of parrots are sociable and gregarious birds that are usually observed in pairs, family parties, or small flocks. Occasionally, when conditions are appropriate, some of the smaller species aggregate in very large numbers. Observers in Australia, for example, sometimes report flocks of wild budgerigars so vast that they darken the sky. When wild populations of parrots reach these proportions they sometimes cause serious damage to crops. Fort-innately, population explosions of this kind are comparatively rare and are usually brought under control by natural mortality due to starvation and diseases such as ornithosis (psittacosis), to which parrots are particularly susceptible.

Apart from man, the most important predators of parrots are various hawks and falcons, although monkeys and other tree-dwelling mammals are also responsible for forsaking a significant number of eggs and nestlings. When feeding in flocks, parrots are often noisy and quarrelsome and appear To be oblivious to potential predators. However, when danger threatens, these flocks fall perfectly silent before exploding suddenly from the treetops accompanied by harsh screams. Most predators find the ensuing chaos and confusion disconcerting.

ParrotsOn the principle that there is safety in numbers, many species of parrots also roost communally at night. Communal roosts are often in traditional locations and tend to house year after year. Favored sites often con-sits of exceptionally tall or isolated trees where the birds can get a good view of approaching predators. Asian hanging parrots have the distinction of roosting suspended upside-down like bats. At a distance, it is difficult to distinguish a dead tree full of roosting hanging parrots from a tree with normal foliage.

Parrots are among the noisiest of all birds and, in general, their voices are harsh and unmelodic. Calls include a range of chatters, squeaks, shrieks, clicks, squawks, and screams, many of them loud, discordant, and thoroughly disagreeable. The Crimson rosella of Australia has a pleasant whistle-like call and another Australian species, the red-rumped parrot, produces a melodious trilled whistle which is about the nearest any parrot has come to a song.

ParrotsIn some species, pair-mates perform vocal duets—rapidly alternating sequences of calls that are exchanged between partners. Parrots are notorious vocal mimics, although this ability is only apparent in captive birds. Parrots, particularly the larger species, are playful and inquisitive and are thought to be relatively intelligent. Like primates, they are easily bored by captivity and may become destructive and be intelligent as result. Although as a group parrots are com-operatively successful, many species have become extinct within the last few centuries and many more are seriously endangered. One of the most mysterious disappearances was that of the Carolina parakeet of the southeastern USA. During the early part of the z9th century, this species was common throughout its range, but by 1831 it was already on the decline and the last known specimen died in Cincinnati Zoo on the 2nd February 1918. It is not known what caused the extinction of the Carolina parakeet. However, the species was regarded as an agricultural pest and there’s little doubt that human persecution played a major part in its initial decline.

Forests, since are the preferred habitat for the majority of parrot species. In southeastern Brazil, for example, forest cover has been so reduced by felling that species such as the Glucose macaw and there’d-tailed Amazon is now seriously threatened and, in the case of the macaw, may already be extinct. The other major threat to rare parrots is the voracious demand for the pet trade.

ParrotsIsland species of parrots are especially vulnerable to human activities. Most have small populations and relatively slow breed-in rates and, because they have evolved in isolation, they tend to be more sensitive to habitat destruction and less able to cope with introduced competitors. Predators and Diseases. In 1975 there were only 13 Puerto Rican parrots left in the wild and it looked as though the species was doomed.

However, an emergency conservation program involving strict control of hunting and trapping, artificially increasing the number of suitable nest sites, and cross-fostering of eggs and nestlings between the Puerto Rican parrot and the closely related adnoun-endangered Hispaniola parrot. Hashed dramatic success. In October 1982 the wild population had more than doubled and there were also 15 birds carefully main-tainted in captivity. This recovery clearly shows what can be done when sufficient manpower and resources are available

Nectar-feeding Tories and lorikeets

Lories and lorikeets are flamboyant, almost theatrical birds. The Rainbow lorikeet pos-sasses up to 3o different ritualized gestures, including a variety of stylized hopping, walking, flying, and preening movements, which it incorporates into elaborate” dances.” Most of these performances are aggressive and are used to intimidate rivals of the same species, but males also use similar displays to impress females during courtship.

The Lories and lorikeets form a distinct subgroup within the parrot family. They occur throughout much of Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, and the Pacific, and they differ from other parrots in their habit of offending mainly on pollen and nectar from flowering trees and shrubs.

Typically, Lories and lorikeets have sleek, glossy plumage, and the group includes some of the most brilliantly colored of all parrots. In the wild, they are mostly gregarious and their behavior is generally noisy and conspicuous. The most widespread of the Lories is the Rainbow lorikeet which is distributed throughout eastern Indonesia, New Guinea, northern and eastern Australia, and the western Pacific islands. The species is divided up into 22 distinct island races or subspecies. The mountainous island of New Guinea has by far the highest diversity of different species and is also close to the geographic center of their distribution.

In order to cope with their specialized diet, these birds have evolved structural modifications of the bill, tongue, and alimentary canal. The bills of Lories are narrower, more elongate,d and less powerful than those of other parrots, and the gizzard—the muscular organ used by most other species to pulverize hard or fibrous foods—is relatively thin-walled and weak. Their most striking adaptation is the tongue, which is rather long for a parrot and equipped withal a tuft of thread-like papillae at its tip.

These Papillae are normally enclosed within a protected cup-like sheath when the bird is arrested or feeding on fairly substantial foods such as fruit or seeds, but they can be expanded like the tentacles of a sea anemone when the tongue is extended toffee on flowers. In this state, the tongue is an effective instrument for mopping up pollen and nectar. Fringe- or brush-tipped tongues are also found in several other families of nectar-feeding birds (the same adaptations are found in some species of nectar-feeding bats).

ParrotsFew of the tree and shrub species exploited by Lories for food have distinct flowering seasons. Individual flowering trees of the same species are often highly dispersed, and pollen and nectar production can vary considerably from year to year, as can the length of the flowering period. The locally abundant but highly erratic nature of this food resource has a number of important consequences for the birds. For example, most species of lorry and lorikeet are highly nomadic and cover considerable distances in search of food.

In the Pacific region, Rainbow lorikeets have been observed flying up to 8 ohms (5 omit) between neighboring islands. Lories also tend to be opportunist breeders. In other words, instead of confining themselves to a fixed breeding season, pairs generally start to breed whenever sufficient pollen and nectar are available. In practice, breeding tends to peak during the rainiest part of the year, since this also cur-responds to the period when most trees come into flower. Lories are monogamous and, as far as is known, males and females pair for life.

As in many other parrots, enduring pair-bonds have probably evolved in response to ecological factors. The absence of a well-defined breeding season favors a continuous, year-round association between pair-mates so that their reproductive cycles are always synchronized, as they can commence breeding whenever conditions are suitable. Lories are exceptionally pugnacious birds and many have evolved unusually elaborate threat displays. This behavior may also be adapted to feeding on flowers. When trees come into flower within the tropics they tend to attract considerable numbers of birds of different species, all eager to exploit the temporary abundance of pollen and nectar.

Within this highly competitive environment, the more aggressive species such as Lories seem to be at an advantage. In Australia, Lories have also become exceptionally bold and opportunistic in their real- Townships with people. Rainbow and Scaly-breasted lorikeets inhabit city suburbs and are easily persuaded to visit bird tables. In Imparts of Queensland, huge flocks of these two species are fed publicly for the entertain-mint of tourists. The group includes a number of very rare and endangered species. Stephen’s lorry, the most easterly representative of the group, is confined to Henderson Island in the Pitcairn Archipelago. Several members of the eastern Polynesian genus Roil are currently threatened by habitat destruction, illegal trapping, and the effects of introduced avian malaria.

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