Interesting Facts about Parrots

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Parrots are among the most colorful and social of all birds. Some of them even have the ability to mimic both the sounds of other birds and humans. They may live 30 to 70 years in captivity. Parrots are found on all tropical continents and a few subantarctic islands. What follows is a list of 20 interesting facts about parrots that we think you might find useful if you are a parrot owner.

1. Only parrots are able to hold food up to their beak while eating

Parrots have strong feet with two toes facing forward (like our thumbs) and two toes facing backward. This helps them grip onto branches and hold their food while they eat it. [1]

2. Parrots can live to be over 60 years old, with larger parrots usually outliving smaller ones by several years

Parrots live different amounts of time depending on their species. Some parrots can live for up to 100 years, while others only live for about 10 years. The most common species of pet parrots, including cockatiels, cockatoos, and macaws, have an average lifespan of 25 to 70 years. [2]

The longest living parrot in captivity was a sulfur-crested cockatoo named Cookie, who lived to be 83 years old. In the wild, they usually live shorter lives.

3. In India, it’s Illegal to keep Parrots as pets

It is illegal to keep parrots as pets in India. Parrots are considered sacred in Hindu culture and are therefore banned from being taken from the wild or kept as pets. However, Indians are free to keep exotic birds such as budgerigars and cockatoos.

If the bird belongs to Schedule-I, the accused will have to spend seven years in prison and pay a fine of up to 25,000 Rs. ($327), or both. [3]

4. Parrots mate for life, often forming bonds that extend beyond the breeding season

But if you watch closely, you may notice that a mated pair is not always together. Each bird has its own special role to play within a flock. And when it comes time to mate, they will find their respective roles within the relationship.

Parrots help one another find food, watch out for each other and sleep together to strengthen their bond. Lovebirds are especially known for their bond since they spend a great deal of time sitting close together. [4]

5. Most Parrots can imitate sound so that they can fit in with their surroundings

It’s a well-known fact that most parrots can imitate sound, but did you know that this is a defense mechanism? By blending into their surroundings and sounding like other animals, these little feathered friends are able to stay safe from predators. [5]

Parrots can sing lower notes better than smaller birds, helping them reproduce human voices in cute voices. It’s amazing how smart these birds are!

6. The Kea is the only alpine parrot in the world

According to a study that analyzed DNA sequencing and fossil records, Keas were once found in many parts of the country. The finding is a blow to the species’ status as the world’s only alpine parrot. [6]

They have made headlines for stealing wallets, digging into tourists’ bags and once one Kea took the passport of a Scottish tourist.

7. The beak of the hyacinth macaw can crack even the toughest nuts, such as macadamia nuts and Brazil nut pods

The hyacinth macaw, native to South America, has a curved beak that enables it to crack open acuri nuts. It is also able to crack Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and coconuts but cannot digest acuri nuts. It waits for the seed to pass through the digestive tract of cattle before consuming it. [7]

8. Some Parrots Grind their Own Calcium Supplements

Researchers believe that the parrots may manufacture calcium supplements from seashells, as calcium is critical for egg-laying in females. They use pebbles as tools to grind up their mineral supplements. The use of tools in the wild is rare among birds and has only been documented in one other species, the New Caledonian crow. [8]

9. Parrots are omnivores and will eat many different types of foods. They enjoy fruits, seeds, nuts, meats, and even insects

Depending on the species, birds can be carnivores, omnivores, or herbivores. Birds with sharp talons are more likely to be carnivores, while small birds with nut-cracking beaks are more likely to be herbivores. [9]

10. The Novel Treasure Island is the reason parrots are associated with pirates

No written accounts of real pirates walking around with parrots on their shoulders have been found; however, there are stories of people pretending to be pirates who wore fake parrots and monkeys.

Pirates sometimes treated the parrots they captured like members of the crew, letting them perch on their shoulders or play with them during voyages. But when the ship reached a port, they were treated like any other cargo: sold for profit, and the pirate returned to plundering. [10]

11. A Third of the World’s Parrots Face Extinction

According to a study, more than one-third of the world’s parrots are threatened with extinction. The reason for this is unclear, but researchers believe that factors such as the pet trade and climate change are likely to blame. [21]

The study also found that parrots in Australia, New Zealand, South America, and Central America are particularly susceptible to extinction. One of the most endangered species of parrot is the Kakapo, which is found in New Zealand.

12. Cockatoos can move the feathers on their heads

Cockatoos can raise and lower the feathers on their head, tail, and wings at will. They use these plumes to intimidate predators by making themselves seem larger. Some species, such as the white cockatoo and sulfur-crested cockatoo, have recumbent crests; these types of crests lie flat until they are raised. [11]

13. There are More than 393 Species of Parrots

Parrots are birds of the order Psittaciformes. There are around 393 species in 92 genera and make up about 10% of all known bird species. They are found on all tropical and subtropical continents, except most of the central Pacific islands.

There are 3 families of parrots: the Psittacoidea, Cacatuoidea, and Strigopoidea. The Psittacoidea are true parrots; the Cacatuoidea are cockatoos, and the Strigopoidea are New Zealand parrots. [12]

14. The world’s largest parrot, the Kakapo, cannot fly

The Kakapo is a flightless parrot. Its wings are shorter than its body, and they are used for balance and support rather than flapping. Several of its feathers lack the strength and rigidity of other birds’ feathers because it is not necessary to have fully formed wings in order to survive on land. [13]

15. Parrots have the taste buds on the top of their beaks

Parrots have 300 to 350 taste buds on the roof of their beaks. Their tongues can distinguish only four basic tastes—sweet, sour, salty, and bitter—but they show preferences for certain types of food. [14]

16. The parrot Puck is the world record holder for knowing the most words, at 1,728 word

Puck, a budgerigar, was accepted into the 1995 Guinness Book of World Records as “the bird with the largest vocabulary in the world.” The parakeet owned by Camille Jordan was acknowledged as having 1,728 words when the Guinness Book went to press. [15]

17. Parrots are frequently smuggled illegally because they make desirable pets

Illegal trade has become a major threat to a number of wildlife species. For example, in Mexico, criminology researchers have applied their framework to parrot poaching, suggesting that poachers target the most abundant and accessible species rather than rare or highly-priced ones. [16]

The wildlife trade is a massive global industry in which live animals are captured from their native habitats. Their parts are sold for medicines, food, clothing, or accessories. The illegal trade in parrots, which occurs largely in the neotropics, involves many people and is a wildlife crime. [17]

18. The Kakapo, a nocturnal, flightless parrot endemic to New Zealand, is one of the most critically endangered birds in the world

The Kakapo is a New Zealand bird – it is the most critically endangered species of parrot in the world. Till 2017, only 116 individuals were known to exist. They’re nocturnal as well, which means they sleep during the day and are awake at night. They’re also flightless, making them easy targets for predators like cats, rats, and dogs. [18]

19. Some parrot feathers contain a bacteria-resistant pigment that prevents the feathers from damage caused by certain bacteria

Parrots owe their brilliant colors to psittacofulvins, synthetic pigments found only in the feathers of parrots. Recent evidence suggests that some pigments in bird feathers function not just as color generators but also preserve feather keratin by increasing resistance to bacterial degradation. [19]

20. Many parrots fly long distances each day. They need plenty of room to flap their wings

Parrots are amazing when it comes to flight. Some species can fly thousands of miles each day, and many can live up to 80 years, so they have plenty of time to rack up the mileage. They need room to fly, which is why it’s so important for people to give their parrots plenty of space to exercise. Parrots’ wild habitats have a lot more room than most parrot owners’ homes, so it’s up to us to make sure our feathered friends have space in which to move.

The Ouvéa Parakeet has a flying range of around 2-3 hectares. On the other hand, in a nonstop flight of 100km per day, the Thick-billed Parrot has been recorded as having traveled 320km in one day during the springtime. [20]

Conclusion

Parrots are the only animals that can imitate human speech. Some parrots are also able to mimic the sounds of other animals, machines, and many other noises like a telephone ringing, doorbells, and even car alarms. They can remember words up to 50 years later.

References

  1. Fun facts for kids on animals, earth, history and more!(n.d.). DK Find Out! https://www.dkfindout.com/us/animals-and-nature/birds/parrots/
  2. The average lifespan of parrots. (n.d.). Pets – The Nest. https://pets.thenest.com/average-lifespan-parrots-6518.html
  3. Love for your pet bird can get you in jail, fine. (2017, April 2). Deccan Chronicle. https://www.deccanchronicle.com/lifestyle/pets-and-environment/020417/love-for-your-pet-bird-can-get-you-in-jail-fine.html
  4. Top 10 facts about “Parrot”. (n.d.). Alex21C Official Website. https://www.alex21c.com/EthosOfLifeScience/facts.php?factId=1012
  5. Why do parrots have the ability to mimic?(2007, December 5). Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/experts-parrots-mimic/
  6. World’s only Alpine parrot may have moved to the mountains to avoid people. (2021, June 1). the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/01/new-zealands-alpine-parrot-could-have-moved-to-the-mountains-to-avoid-people
  7. (n.d.). Pine Valley Aviary – Parrot, Aviary, Macaw, Cockatoo. https://pinevalleyaviary.ca/hyacinth-macaw
  8. Parrots use pebble tools to grind up own mineral supplements. (2015, December 16). New Scientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28673-parrots-use-pebble-tools-to-grind-up-own-mineral-supplements/
  9. Are parrots omnivores?(2019, September 14). Lyotomachida.net – Tips for lifestyle, tech and much more!. https://lyotomachida.net/2019/09/14/are-parrots-omnivores/
  10. Stephens, C. (2022, October 8). Why are parrots associated with pirates? [Facts vs. fiction!]. All About Parrots. https://www.allaboutparrots.com/why-are-parrots-associated-with-pirates
  11. How are cockatoos able to move the feathers on their head?(n.d.). Quora. https://www.quora.com/How-are-cockatoos-able-to-move-the-feathers-on-their-head
  12. Ninofranco, C. (2022, July 19). 16 fun facts about parrots. Chipper Birds. https://chipperbirds.com/facts-about-parrots/
  13. Nast, C. (2014, March 4). The creature feature: 10 fun facts about the kakapo. WIRED. https://www.wired.com/2014/03/creature-feature-10-fun-facts-kakapo/
  14. Donahue, M. Z. (2016, January 5). 14 fun facts about parrots. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/14-fun-facts-about-parrots-180957714
  15. Birds of Paradise Sanctuary. (n.d.). BOPS birds laugh and learn. https://birdsofparadise.org/bops-birds-learn.html
  16. Illegal and legal parrot trade shows a long-term, cross-cultural preference for the most attractive species increasing their risk of extinction. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166463/
  17. Understanding the illegal parrot trade. (2021, November 14). LafeberVet. https://lafeber.com/vet/understanding-the-illegal-parrot-trade/
  18. Kakapo Strigops habroptila. (2018). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22685245/129751169
  19. Colourful parrot feathers resist bacterial degradation. (23, April). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3061162/
  20. World Parrot Trust – Staff. (n.d.). Comparison of flight mileage for various wild parrot species. World Parrot Trust. https://www.parrots.org/ask-an-expert/comparison-of-flight-mileage-for-various-wild-parrot-species
  21. Current protected areas not enough to save parrots from extinction: Study. (2021, January 29). Mongabay Environmental News. https://news.mongabay.com/2021/01/current-protected-areas-not-enough-to-save-parrots-from-extinction-study/

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