The 'winged rainbows'
Unique among the inhabitants of the animal kingdom due to their
feathers, birds will never fail to fascinate us. There are hundreds of
thousands of bird species around the world whose beautifully coloured
feathers, lifestyles and flying abilities are beyond our imagination;
they make us wonder as to whether there really are such creatures in
existence in our world...
Look out for more information about the different species
belonging to the parrot family later...
Today, the species of feathered friends we feature will be familiar
to most of you, as some of you may even have them as pets. They are none
other than the parrots. Of course, there are many different kinds of
parrots and the green coloured ones you have as pets aren't the only
kind we are focusing on....Parrots or Psiltacines are a large group of
birds numbering around 353 species.
They are generally grouped into two main families - the Cacatuidae or
Cockatoos and Psitlacidae or true parrots. These species of birds have
been around for quite some time, as it is said that the earliest
parrot-like fossil was discovered around 70 million years ago.
What they look like
One of the most colourful members of the bird kingdom, (with the
exception of a few species) parrots are considered awesome due to their
majesty and elegance. They are often referred to as 'winged rainbows'.
Though predominantly green in colour, especially those from South
America, parrots come in all colours. Some are mostly blue or yellow
while others may have red, blue, green, purple, pink, brown, yellow and
even black feathers. They have large heads, short necks, characteristic
curved beaks, with the upper mandible having slight mobility in the
joints, and four toes with two pointing forward and the other two,
backwards. They are excellent climbers.
These beauties range in size depending on the species, from 3 1/2
inches to about 10 inches in length.The Hyacinth Macaw is said to be the
world's largest parrot at 100 cm in length and 1.7 kg in weight. The
smallest is the pygmy parrot.
Some species of parrots are endangered since many are captured and
sold as exotic pets, especially the beautifully coloured macaws and also
Communication and breeding
Parrots love chattering to each other. In fact, they make lots of
different sounds and they all mean different things.
Many species can mimic human speech and sounds, but this does not
happen when they are in the wilds. African Grey Parrots are considered
to be the best mimics. Some of you who have the little green parrots,
commonly found in our country as pets, must be familiar with such
mimicry. It is believed that parrots pair for life; once they reach
maturity between 1-4 years, they are ready to become parents and so they
find a mate and start a family. They usually build nests in tree holes,
termite mounds, rock cavities and tunnels in the ground, depending on
Once the eggs are laid, both parents take turns to keep the eggs
warm. The chicks are born blind without any feathers. They need to be
fed and kept warm until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
The mama and papa parrots take turns to find food for their babies
since someone has to always be on guard when they are really tiny.
However, as they grow bigger, and become strong enough to be by
themselves in the nest, both parents go off to find food for them. When
the chicks are older, the parents put them in a creche with other young
parrots to learn more about parrot skills. Even though man has had a
long history with these beautiful birds, unfortunately, the humans are
the birds' worst enemies.
Social and eating habits
Parrots usually live in flocks. They help each other to find food
which comprises fruits, seeds, buds, nectar pollen and sometimes
insects. Their thick muscular tongues help them to eat this wide range
of food, especially the different types of seeds. Parrots generally
store food in a sack in the throat (crop) and when it's full, they
regurgitate to feed their young.
* Most common parrot species are green in colour and make wonderful
* Macaws are colourful, captivating, intelligent and flamboyant
* Parakeets mean 'small parrots'. There are many variations of their
Distribution and species
Parrots are found in the warm regions of the world, especially in
India, Southeast Asia, West Africa, Australia, South America and Central
America. The greatest number of parrots come from the three latter
The parrot family ranges from huge macaws to tiny lovebirds and
parrotlets. Some of these species are among the most spectacular birds
in the world. Lories and Lorikeets are the most distantly related birds
of the family.
About 53 species in dozen genera are found, all confined to
Australia, eastern Indonesia and many remote South Pacific Islands. The
world's rarest bird is a blue macaw named the Spix's Macaw or
Cyanopsilta spixii. One lonely male was recorded to be living in eastern
Brazil way back in 2000.
Australia has around 56 species of parrots from tiny budgerigars to
Larger Macaws, African Grey Parrots, Amazon Parrots and Cockatoos are
some of the main species in the parrot family. Conures, Neotropical
Parakeets, Parrotlets, lovebirds, lories and lorikeets too belong to
this family. Some are in doubt as to whether lorikeets belong to a group
of their own.