Hi! I'm Keet. This blog post is part of a series of lessons about parrots. Enjoy!

Part 1

So, what exactly is a parrot? When most people hear the word, they visualize a rainbow-feathered bird, flying through a tropical rainforest, in the zoo, or maybe perched on a pirate's shoulder. However, there's much more to these birds than that!

Parrots are in the animal kingdom, of course. They belong to the phylum Chordata (animals with backbones), the class Aves (birds), and the order Psittaciformes (parrots!). Parrots are then divided into three large "superfamilies" - Cacatuoidea, cockatoos, Strigopoidea, New Zealand parrots, and Psittacicoidea, "true" parrots. 

The birds in the three seperate superfamilies are very diverse, as are the genuses and species within those superfamilies. But what groups all these birds together? Well, all parrots have:

  • Strong, curved beaks.
  • Zygodactyl feet - two toes point foward, two point backwards.
  • Boned tongues.
  • Hundreds of feathers.

Most parrots live in tropical, neotropical or subtropical climates; the only exception is the Kea of New Zealand, which survives through snow.

How do parrots act? Well, of course, this varies greatly based on species and individual personalities. However, all parrots are inquisitive, intelligent, and at least partly social (living in groups from 2 to 15+).

What about the famous parrot voice? ("Rrrawk! Polly wanna cracker!") Believe it or not, parrots in the wild do not imitate voices, sounds, or anything of the like. In captivity they do, but their voices are much different than the cliche. They repeat things that are said by people loudly, often, and with feeling. (That's why they so often pick up swear words, hue hue.) It's believed by researchers that talking and singing in captivity is a replacement for a parrot's wild social life.

Parrot Singing Spongebob Song

Parrot Singing Spongebob Song

Many parrots can also count, keep beat (dance), recall objects by name, and use adjectives. 

Well, that's about it for Part 1. Part 2 will be coming soon!