Parrots

At the Creek Park Bird Show we have over 20 different species of parrots! Want to know more about them? Here are some facts about parrots!

How many different kinds of parrots are there?

- There are over 360 different species. Almost 100 of these are threatened with extinction, mainly due to loss of habitat and capture to be pets.

Where are wild parrots found?

- Most live in tropical and semi-tropical areas like Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, India, New Zealand and Australia.

In what ways are parrots different from other types of birds?

- Parrots are “zygodactyls”, which means that they have 2 toes pointing to the front and 2 pointing to the back.

- They have a hinged upper and lower beak. (Watch a parrot yawn sometime – unlike other birds, it raises the upper part of the beak without moving the whole head!)

- Parrots are the only birds that can lift up food to their mouths using their feet. Other birds use their beaks to lift their food, or use their feet to grasp and carry it.

Are all feathers the same?

Definitely not! There are three basic kinds of feathers:

- Down feathers are the small, soft, fluffy feathers located closest to the bird’s skin. They help the bird regulate its temperature.

- Contour feathers cover the head and body. They make the bird very smooth so it can travel easily through the air.

- Flight and tail feathers are much stiffer and longer than contour feathers. They move the air so that the bird can fly.

What is a parrot’s beak made of?

- It might seem like a parrot’s beak is solid, but it’s not. In fact, like many of the bird’s bones it is hollow, with fine bony struts inside to make it strong. The outside is covered in keratin (which is what our fingernails are made of). A parrot’s beak grows continuously and is worn down by eating, chewing wood, and by grinding the top and bottom parts against each other.

How big are parrots?

- The smallest parrots (called Parrotlets) can fit into the palm of your hand. The largest (Hyacinth Macaws) can be over 90 cm from head to tail, have a wingspan of 125 cm and weigh as much as 1,700 grams.

How long can parrots live?

- On average, small pet parrots like budgies live about 10 years. Very large pet parrots can live 80 years or even more!

What do wild parrots eat?

- Most parrots like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and a few insect larvae. But, some parrots are specialists – for example, wild Lorikeets eat fruit and nectar. Wild Hyacinth Macaws eat mainly palm nuts

How do parrots communicate?

- Parrots have very loud voices. Different sounds mean different things (like “watch out for the hawk”, or “there’s food over here”). Parrots learn to make these calls by listening to their parents and flock mates. As pets, some can learn to talk by listening to us. Parrots also use body language (like fluffing their feathers) to communicate.

Just how smart are parrots?

- Some scientists think parrots are at least as smart as dolphins and chimpanzees. For example, Alex the African Grey parrot knew how to count to 6, identify 7 colours and name 35 different objects. Alex was even learning to read! He was trained by Dr. Pepperberg, who is now training two more parrots justlike him! Visit www.alexfoundation.org to learn more about parrot intelligence.

Check out http://www.parrots.org  or http://macawproject.org/ for more information!