Parrots, also known as psittacines, are a group of tropical, subtropical, and neotropical birds of diverse body types and keen intelligence. There are over 300 recognized species, most living in Latin America, southern Asia, Africa, and Australia. They are often kept in captivity because of their physical and mental traits.
All parrots have:
- typical bird adaptations (hollow bones, feathers, ect.)
- zygodactyl feet, where two toes face foward and two face back
- curved beaks (also known as "hookbill")
- boned tongues
Parrots are known for their ability to imitate words and phrases; some, though not all, parrots can achieve expanded vocabularies with patience. Many parrots are vividly colored, typically with few or no gender-specific patterns. A number of parrots can be kept and bred in captivity, including but not limited to blue-and-gold or scarlet macaws, eclectus parrots, various conures, cockatoos, budgies or parakeets, and cockatiels. The majority of parrots diet on fruit, nuts, and grains, and live at least 10 years in good health.However, a large portion of parrots are threatened, endangered, critically endangered, or extinct in the wild. This is mainly the effect of pollution, habitat descrution, invasive species and smuggling. There are currently many conservation efforts for many species.
Most captive parrots are now bred in the care of humans rather than snatched from the wild; this ensures better health, less stress, and conservation pay-off. However, keeping a parrot in captivity is no easy task. Even budgies and cockatiels, the smallest and most commonly kept members of the parrot family, are a challenge to care for in some cases - but in general, the larger the parrot, the more commitment and expierience required. Parrots have a high intelligence level and will grow bored or stressed in small cages; they also are social and have strong emotional needs, and require companionship, human, other parrot or both. If most parrots are left alone too long without a human or avian friend, they may begin to scream loudly on a regular basis. Some may even pluck out their own feathers. Thus, it is very important to never underestimate the amount of care a psittacine needs. Still, if cared for correctly, a parrot can become a lifelong companion.