How much do you know about our feathered friends known as parrots? Here are ten interesting facts about these incredible creatures:
- There are over 350 different species of parrots. There are 393 species recognized in the order “Psittaciformes” (although sadly some are now extinct). While macaws are probably one of the most widely recognized families, this highly diverse order has an array of birds in just about every size and color. Check out the video below that highlights some of the families of birds known as parrots:
- Some parrots can live to be over 80 years old. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest parrot is Cookie, a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo, who was 82 years old when he passed away in 2016. However, there is another bird who is “unofficially” even older — Poncho, a celebrity green-winged macaw who is over 90 years old.
- Many parrots can imitate sounds and even learn to talk. Some species are recognized for their exceptional ability to learn words and mimic sounds around them clearly, such as the African grey, some Amazon species, and even the tiny budgie. Many other parrot species can learn to talk as well, although their voices might not be as clear. However, there are many factors that contribute to a bird learning how to talk, and even in a species well-known for talking, not every individual will decide to learn words.
- Parrots are some of the smartest animals. More than just learning a few tricks, these birds have been shown to be capable of complex thought processes. The best documented example testing avian intelligence is Dr. Pepperberg’s work with African Grey parrots. Her parrot Alex understood ideas like “same” and “different,” the concept of zero, colors, numbers, and shapes, putting him on par with a child about 5 years old.
- In most parrot species, males and females look the same. While some bird species, like peacocks, are known for their striking visual differences between them (known as sexual dimorphism), in parrots, most males and females look alike. The only way to accurately determine sex is with a blood test. A notable exception to this rule is the eclectus — males are green, while females are red.
- Most parrots mate for life. Parrots are generally monogamous, and will have one mate for life. For companion parrots, sometimes that “mate” is their favorite person, and can sometimes become “one person birds” who don’t want to be handled by other family members.
- Parrots have very powerful beaks. A large macaw may be able to exert as much as 500-700 psi, giving them the power to break open the toughest nuts to crack, like Brazil nuts. However, these larger birds also tend to be very docile, and they very rarely will exert this much force even when they feel threatened.
- Parrots are the only birds that bring their feet to their beaks to eat. While some birds can hold their food in their feet, parrots are the only ones capable of using their feet to bring their food to their beak, much like humans and primates use their hands.
- Parrots have been kept as pets for thousands of years. Since ancient times, parrots have been companions to people all over the world, from South America to India to Egypt and even China.
- Parrots are not domesticated animals. Even a bird that was raised in captivity is still a “wild” bird. Domestication can take hundreds of years, and parrots have only been bred for a few decades. For this reason, parrots are not the ideal pet for every family.
Our staff loves parrots and other exotic birds — feel free to reach out at any time with questions, or to ask about the birds we currently have for sale.