Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For the runtime engine for Perl 6, see Parrot virtual machine.
Many: see text.
A parrot is any of the many birds belonging to the family Psittacidae. Parrots have a characteristic curved beak shape with the upper mandible having slight mobility in the joint with the skull and a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. Some types of parrots include amazon, conure, kea, lorikeet, lory, lovebird, macaw, parakeet, parrotlet, and rosella.
Along with the cockatoo family (the Cacatuidae), the parrot family makes up the order Psittaciformes. Confusingly, the term "parrot" can be used in either the narrow sense of the parrot family Psittacidae or the broad sense of the order Psittaciformes.
Birds of the parrot family can be found in most of the warm parts of the world, including India, South East Asia and West Africa, with one species, now extinct, in the United States (the Carolina Parakeet). By far the greatest number of parrot species, however, come from Australasia, South America and Central America.
Many species can imitate human speech or other sounds, and at least one researcher, Irene Pepperberg, has made controversial claims for the learning ability of one species; an African Grey Parrot Alex, has been trained to use words to identify objects, describe them, count them, and even answer complex questions such as "How many red squares?" (with over 80% accuracy). Other scholars claim that parrots are only repeating words with no idea of their meanings and point to Pepperberg's results as being nothing but an expression of operant conditioning.
Parrots are kept as pets. Often the wings of such birds are clipped, but many people keep flighted pet parrots, allowing the birds to roam their homes. Some parrots, including the conures, macaws, amazons, cockatoos, cockatiels, and budgerigars are said to make good family pets. While they can be rewarding, they are also quite demanding. Intellectually and emotionally they are surprisingly like two year old humans - imagine having a two year old for 50 years. Cockatiels and budgies are often considered good birds for beginners (they cost less, do not live as long, and less likely to take over than some of the larger birds). Information on care can be found at How to care for a pet cockatoo.
The very attractiveness of parrots as pets has led to a thriving - often illegal - trade in the birds, some species of which are now threatened with extinction. The scale of the problem can be appreciated when one considers the Tony Silva case, in which a world-renowned parrot expert and former director at Tenerife's Loro Parque (Europe's largest parrot park) was jailed in the US for 82 months and fined $100,000 for smuggling the birds 1. The case rocked conservationist and ornithological circles, leading to calls for greater protection and control over trade in the birds. Escaped parrots, like other exotic animals, can also represent a potential threat to local ecosystems if they become established in the wild. This is now occurring in Spain, in both Barcelona and Tenerife.
- Family Cacatuidae: cockatoos
- Family Psittacidae
- Subfamily Loriinae: 12 genera with 53 species of lorikeets and lories, centered in New Guinea, spreading to Australia, Indonesia, and the islands of the south Pacific. (Sometimes classed as a full family and thus termed Loriidae.)
- Subfamily Psittacinae : subdivided into nine tribes:
- Tribe Psittrichadini : Pesquet's Parrot
- Tribe Nestorini: 3 species in 1 genus, the Kea and Kaka of New Zealand and the extinct Norfolk Island Kaka
- Tribe Strigopini: Kakapo
- Tribe Micropsittini: 6 speces of pygmy parrot, all in a single genus
- Tribe Cyclopsitticini : fig parrots, 6 species in 3 genera, all from New Guinea or nearby
- Tribe Platycercini: 37 species in 14 genera, including the rosellas
- Tribe Psittaculini : Paleotropic psittaculine parrots, 66 species in 12 genera, distributed from India to Australasia
- Tribe Psittacini : Afrotropical parrots, 12 species in 3 genera
- Tribe Arini : Neotropical parrots, 148 species in 30 genera
Species list of parrots sorted:
- Bruce Thomas Boehner - Parrot Culture. Our 2.500-year-Long Fascination with the World's Most Talkative Bird (2004)
- Articles about flighted parrot-keeping
- Teaching parrots to fly to you on cue
- Modifying parrot behavior through operant conditioning
- Free Birds Stories of flighted parrot-keeping
- Parrot-related news and views from around the world
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