Parrot is a word that refers to more than 370 species of birds. Contrary to the common belief that parrots are breeds of birds, parrots are species of birds. Different parrot species can have different social structures, diets, behavioral instincts, and voice sounds. Each species can uniquely adapt the environment they leave, so different parrots can be found in the wild including jungles, plains, deserts, and forests and any corner of the world.
Biologists have distinguished parrots into 2 separate groups based on their evolutionary history and body structure. The Cockatoos can be found in Australia and surrounding areas only and the True Parrots can be found in Africa, America, Australia, and Asia. Parrots are species of birds that come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. However, despite their differences, they all have two things in common – strong hooked beaks and zygodactyls feet.
- Powerful Hooked Beaks – Like most animals, parrots are capable of moving their bottom jaw. However, they can also move their upper jaw. This physical characteristic allows them to have a strong beak. Their bites have great power. Alongside with their precise and delicate movements, they can preen their feathers and crack nuts.
- ZygodactylFeet – Unlike other species of birds, parrots have four toes on each of their foot – 2 toes pointing forward and the other 2 point backward. This feet structure is very rare on birds. Their feet allow them to perch on tree branches steadily, but could make them look awkward when walking on flat surface.
These species of birds are highly social and many of them have the capability of mimicking non-bird sounds that they hear from the surroundings. They can even mimic the human speech. Both male and female parrots are almost similar to each other and you may need the help of a critter, surgical examination or DNA testing to determine the gender of your parrot.
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Some species of parrots in the wild live with a large flock ranging to more than a hundred of birds while others can live in a small group of 3 to 6 birds. But, all parrots are social and can interact with other birds of their species. Parrots in the wild spend most of their rime in resting in a flock to socialize or search for food in a group. These species of birds can show affection by chattering back and forth, grooming the feather of other birds, or even regurgitate food from the mouth of other birds. Unlike other birds, they mate with only one partner and stay together in their lifetime.
Parrots in the wild do not necessarily build a nest. When breeding time comes, they search for hollow branches or trees to nest in. In addition, they can also become territorial if they found a good spot for nesting.
Parrots as Pets
For centuries, many people are keeping parrots as pets. In early days, parrots made as pets are caught in the wild and people thought that breeding them was impossible. As these species of birds became increasingly popular, the pet trade began to disturb the parrots in the wild in search for high quality birds.
However, several parrot species are prolific that their numbers are unharmed by the pet trade. The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo in Australia is very abundant in numbers that made farmers to consider them as pests. But, other parrot species are not lucky and their numbers are gradually decreasing.
The pet trade and habitat loss along with other environmental factors have made some species of parrot to gradually decrease in number. For an instance, the Sun Conures species that is very common and abundant in Northern Brazil only has one to two thousands of birds in the wild. Also, the Blue Throated Macaw is down to about 250 birds only and the Spix Macaw is believed to be extinct in the wild. These are only few of the results in the wild caused by the parrot trade industry.
Bird lovers have reacted in two different ways when they finally realized what was happening. Some bird lovers made efforts to create laws to ban capturing the threatened parrot species in the wild while many of them learned how to breed these species of birds in captivity. These days, breeders have successfully learned how to breed parrots in captivity and these are the birds that are common in the trade. But, there are still people that continue to fight the wild capture of parrots.
In 1973, the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) was made between Australia, the USA, Europe, and other countries around the world. In addition, the USA has created the Wild Bird Conservation Act that strengthened the CITIES agreement. Now, it’s illegal to capture parrots in the wild and trade them in the pet industry. All birds available in the pet trade are bred in captivity.
This is not just good for the wild birds, but for the pet owners too. Birds bred in captivity are highly socialized with humans since hatching from their egg shell, so they are friendlier making them lovable pets. Captive birds are also healthy, with no injury or illness.
The Beauty of Parrot Birds
The natural selection produced few creatures that are as elaborate, fascinating, and beautiful as parrots. Parrots are considered very successful in the wild as they can adapt to their environment and survive in virtually any ecosystem in different continents, excluding Antarctica. Parrots bred in captivity make good pets and have become the ambassador of their relatives in the wild. These birds in captivity make humanity realize what it’s going to lose if people ignore their duties and responsibilities as a steward of the wilderness and jungles.
In spite of the beauty of these birds, they are difficult to care for. But, those people with time, money, dedication, resources, and patience have proven that parrots can make wonderful companions. If you decide to have a parrot at home, you need to find a good breeder to ensure that you can have the best parrot species available in your locality.