Even though there are so many different looking parrots they actually only consist of two major groups. They run the gamut from parakeets and lovebirds to amazons and macaws.
These two groups are psittacidae family and cacutaidae family. The cacutaidae family has a movable head crest while the psittacidae are distinguished by their many vibrant colors.
There is also a difference between these two groups in their skeletal structure and some of their biological makeup.
Parrots have played a sizable role in history. There are Egyptian hieroglyphics going back 4000 years which indicate that they were pets of royal families. There are also references to them during the Greek and Roman times.
Many famous historical figures, such as Winston Churchill and King Henry VIII were parrot owners as well.
I find it quite interesting that even though parrots have such vibrant and varied coloring their eggs are just plain white!
Parrot fossils that have been found in Europe show that the modern parrots ancestors go as far back as the Eocene period and are 50 million years old. Fossils that relate more closely to todays parrots in terms of bone structure and appearance are about 23 million years old.
Even though parrots largely eat fruit, seeds, buds, nectar, and pollen in the wild they are somewhat omniverous. Sometimes they will eat insects. The “gourmets” of the parrot world, the Golden-winged Parakeets like to eat water snails and the New Zealand Kees scavenge abandoned sheep carcasses.
They possess a strong, hooked beak that helps them crack nuts and have a thick muscular tongue. They feed their young by regurgitation to help them with digestion.
Another interesting parrot fact is that, for the most part, parrots nest in holes. While there are a few exceptions that build regular nests, most build their homes in holes in trees, rock cavities, ground tunnels and even occasionally in termite mounds.
Wild parrots can mostly be found in the tropical areas in South America, Australia, and New Guinea. Some species come from Africa and the Asian mainland.
Parrots come in many shapes and sizes. The pygmy parrot of New Guinea is 3½ inches long while the hyacinth macaw is closer to 40 inches long. Some macaws can grow up to five feet in length (including their tail feathers). Parrots can weigh anywhere from just a few ounces to 3½ pounds.
Another unique and interesting parrot trait is their zygodactyl feet.This means that parrots have two toes that point backwards and two toes that point forward.
This trait makes them extremely agile. They are excellent climbers and excellent at coordinating their beaks and feet to accomplish many interesting feats.
Some species of parrots are in danger of extinction. Conservation efforts are underway avoid this. The Spixs Macaw is one of the endangered species and there are only 7 in captivity.
Captive breeding programs are a step in the right direction, increasing the numbers of endangered parrots. Education geared towards increasing awareness of this issue will go a long way towards correcting the problem.
Probably the thing that parrots are most famous for is their ability to talk. What they are actually doing is mimicry or imitation.
Oddly enough one of the more curious parrots facts is that they don’t have vocal cords. They produce sound by pushing air out of their trachea and control their pitch by changing the shape and depth of the trachea.
Their ‘talking’ is actually more comparable to human whistling.
With their impressive range of vocalizations parrots mimic bells, buzzers and many other sounds in addition to human speech.
African Gray Parrots are said to be the best mimics of the parrot family. They are also highly intelligent and don’t just mimic, but learn associations for the words they say.
Many can associate colors, shapes, numbers, sizes and more!
Future parrot owners beware… parrots in the wild and as flocks are some of the noisiest birds there are. It is said that some parrot vocalizations can be heard from as far as a mile away.
For you, this may be one of the most important parrots facts!
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