There are 333 species of birds in the family called Psittacidae. The largest subfamily of these is the true parrot. Parrots are found around the world in warm climates. Many members of this subfamily are called parrots, but there are subgroups within this subfamily. Some of these are macaw, lovebird, conure, and parakeet. Parrots eat insects, some fruits, seeds, and buds. They have a blunt tongue.
Parrots are very colorful and make loud screeching noises. They have always been kept as pets in cages because they are amusing to watch. They like to imitate other sounds and even the human voice. They are very intelligent.
The African gray parrot is considered the greatest talker. This type of parrot can imitate human speech exactly. They can live up to eighty years. They are very even-tempered. They are about thirteen inches long. In appearance, they are light gray except for their white faces and square red tail. They are very common in rainforests. Although they do damage crops, they are important because they spread the seeds of the oil palm tree.
Amazon parrots can imitate sounds well also. There are thirty-one species of this type of parrot. They grow ten to sixteen inches long. They have a short, square tail and crown feathers which stick straight up. Both males and females look alike. They are mostly green with other different colors on their heads.
The Amazon parrots live in tropical forests from the West Indies and Mexico down to northern South America. They can sometimes become aggressive and squawk a lot.
The Blue-fronted Amazon is most commonly seen in captivity. They have yellow faces and blue foreheads. They have red shoulders and a blue or yellow crown. Another type, the yellow-crowned parrot, has a yellow tail tip and yellow on its head and neck and a red wing patch. They are found from Central America down to Ecuador and Brazil.
The monk or green parakeet is native to South America. Many are kept as cage pets farther north, have escaped and have built nests in the United States. They are unique because they build nests from large sticks. Hanging parrots are members of this subfamily also. They sleep upside down. Caiques are small South American birds with short tails.
The night parrot, or night parakeet, of Australia, was thought to be extinct until a dead bird was found in 1990. This parrot sleeps during the day and at night eats spinifex grass seeds. It makes a platform of twigs in a bush for a nest. It enters the nest through a tunnel. The ground parrot is very rare but can be found in southern Australia and western Tasmania. It runs in the grass. It makes a nest in a depression in the ground under a bush. The nest is lined with leaves. Hunters used to go after them with dogs.
Lories and lorikeets make up another subfamily. The lories have short tails. The lorikeets have long tails. They live in Australia, the Pacific islands, and New Guinea. They have thin beaks with a wavy edge and a tongue like a brush. These help them remove nectar from flowers and juices from fruits.
Pygmy parrots live in New Guinea and neighboring islands. They eat fungi and insects and live in the forest. They are the smallest of the species. One subfamily, Nestorinae, is found only in New Zealand. One of these, the kea, wants to get the fat from around the kidneys of sheep so will rip open a sheep carcass. Another, a kaka, is often kept as a pet. A kakapo is an owl parrot which lives in New Zealand. It is the only member of its subfamily. It lives on Stewart Island.
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