It’s no wonder that parrots are one of the world’s favorite pets. They are colorful, quite intelligent, highly sociable, and long-lived creatures. Different parrot species vary largely in characteristics such as color, weight, and habits. There are close to 400 parrot species around the globe, but sadly, many of them have become endangered.
Parrots, also known as psittacines, are birds of the roughly 398 species in 92 genera comprising the order Psittaciformes, found mostly in tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea, the Cacatuoidea, and the Strigopoidea.
Pet parrots can be incredible if demanding friends, but for people more accustomed to fluffy mammalian companions, they can present some unexpected challenges. The long-lived, intelligent and highly social birds need especially high amounts of attention and enrichment, or else they can pick up bad habits and find themselves bored and stressed to the point where they pluck out their own feathers.
Here are five interesting facts about parrots you should know.
Parrots are smart
- Parrots learn well, and they learn fast.
- If you haven’t already witnessed it, know that parrots are one of the most intelligent birds out there.
- They are capable of associating words with objects and situations, and can even use tools and solve problems.
- Some scientists argue that they have the IQ equivalent to that of a four-year-old.
- What’s more? Parrots are quite playful.
Parrots can imitate sounds
- One thing that makes parrots pretty popular pets is their ability to learn and imitate sounds.
- Not only can they learn/imitate sounds of other animals, they can copy different environmental sounds and even human speech.
- African grey parrots, parakeets, Amazon parrots and macaws are the best at imitating sounds.
- In fact, one African grey parrot was able to speak over a 100 words.
But not all of them can fly
- Did you know not all parrots can fly?
- The world’s largest parrot species, the Kakapo is flightless.
- However, it can jump and is good at climbing trees, so it doesn’t miss out on fruits.
- And, it is heavy. It can weigh as much as nine pounds and grow over two feet in length.
- But sadly, the kakapo is today one of the rarest birds.
They can eat with their feet
- Parrots happen to be the only birds who are capable of eating with their feet.
- This is because parrots have zygodactyl feet, meaning that they have four toes on each foot, two facing forward and two facing backward.
- This makes it easier for them to pick up objects such as food and bring it to their mouth, like we humans do with hands.
Parrots live long
- The lifespan of a parrot varies across species. But some of them actually outlive their owners.
- While small parrots usually live for 15-20 years, medium-sized parrots live for 25-30 years, whereas large parrots can live up to 100 years.
- The record for the oldest living parrot is held by one cockatoo, namely Cookie, who was 82-years-old, when it passed away in 2016.