By Adebukola Aluko
A parrot also known as the Psittaciformes is a brightly coloured tropical bird with a distinctly loud voice.
A parrot has a curved beak and brightly-coloured or grey feathers, they can be kept as pets.
If you see someone calling a colourful bird “Polly” and asking it if it wants a cracker, that’s a parrot.
Parrots have been kept as cage birds since ancient times, and they have always been popular because they are amusing, intelligent, and often affectionate. Several are astonishingly imitative of many sounds, including human speech.
Parrots are popular pets because many of them have the ability to mimic sounds they hear, sometimes including human speech. In fact, this skill has led to a secondary meaning of the word parrot, “mimic mindlessly.
A group of parrots is called pandemonium.
It’s no wonder that parrots are one of the world’s favourite pets. They are colourful, quite intelligent, highly sociable, and long-lived creatures. Different parrot species vary largely in characteristics such as colour, weight, and habits. There are close to 400 parrot species around the globe.
Here are some interesting facts about parrots you should know
Parrots are smart
Parrots learn well and they learn fast, parrots are one of the most intelligent birds out there. They are capable of associating words with objects and situations, and can even use tools to solve problems. Some scientists argue that they have an IQ equivalent to that of a four-year-old. Parrots are also quite playful.
Parrots can imitate sounds
One thing that makes parrots pretty popular pets is their ability to learn and imitate sounds.
Not only can they learn/imitate the sounds of other animals, but they can also copy different environmental sounds, including human speech.
African grey parrots, parakeets, Amazon parrots, and macaws are the best at imitating sounds. In fact, one African grey parrot could speak over 100 words.
Not all parrots can fly
The world’s largest parrot species, the kakapo, is flightless.
However, the kakapo can jump and is good at climbing trees, so it doesn’t miss out on fruits.
The bird is also heavy, weighing as much as 9 pounds.
It can grow up to two feet in length. Sadly, the kakapo is one of the rarest birds today.
Parrots can eat with their feet
Parrots happen to be the only birds that are capable of eating with their feet.
This is because parrots have zygodactyl feet, meaning that they have four toes on each foot, two facing forward and two facing backwards.
This makes it easier for them to pick up objects such as food and bring them to their mouths similar to how humans do with their hands.
Parrots live long
The lifespan of a parrot varies across species.
But some of them can actually outlive their owners.
While small parrots usually live for 15-20 years, medium-sized parrots live for 25-30 years, whereas large parrots can live up to 100 years.
The record for the oldest living parrot is held by one cockatoo, Cookie, who was 82 years old when it passed away in 2016.
Because the parrot order includes so many different species, parrot sizes vary widely.
Parrots can range in size from about 3.5 to 40 inches (8.7 to 100 centimetres) and weigh 2.25 to 56 ounces (64 g to 1.6 kg), on average.
The world’s heaviest type of parrot is the kakapo, which can weigh up to 9 lbs. (4 kg).
Most wild parrots live in the warm areas of the Southern Hemisphere, though they can be found in many other regions of the world, such as northern Mexico, Australia, South America and Central America have the greatest diversity of parrot species.
Not all parrots like warm weather, though, some parrots like to live in snowy climates while others are nocturnal.
They sleep during the day and search for food at night.
Parrots throughout the flock communicate with one another by squawking and moving their tail feathers.
Parrots are omnivores, which means that they can eat both meat and vegetation.
Most parrots eat a diet that contains nuts, flowers, fruit, buds, seeds and insects.
Seeds are their favourite food.
They have strong jaws that allow them to snap open nutshells to get to the seed that’s inside.
Keas use their longer beaks to dig insects out of the ground for a meal, and kakapos chew on vegetation and drink the juices.
Parrots are like most other birds and lay eggs in a nest.
Some species, though, lay their eggs in tree holes, ground tunnels, rock cavities and termite mounds.
Parrots typically lay two to eight eggs at one time.
A parrot’s egg needs 18 to 30 days of incubation before it can hatch, so the parents take turns sitting on the eggs.
A parrot chick is born with only a thin layer of thin, wispy feathers called down.
Parrot chicks are blind for the first two weeks of their lives.
At three weeks, they start to grow their adult feathers.
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