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14 Fun Facts about Parrots

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8 March, 2023

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Ever wonder why there’s an abundance of parrot content online? You see them singing tunes, bopping to beats, and even conversing with humans. Some even serve as reliable witnesses to crimes. This is because parrots are highly intelligent creatures who enjoy bonding with us—making them excellent pet candidates!

While the traits listed above should be of enough interest to anyone, there’s much to learn about these parrots! Here are some fun, interesting facts about our favorite birds:

Entertaining Parrot Facts to Share with Your Family

Parrots are amusing creatures — who doesn’t want to see a bird that can talk like a person? These highly intelligent animals are known for mimicking sounds and doing tricks, so it comes as no surprise that a lot of people love them. If you know someone who’s really into parrots and other animals, let’s take a look at these fun parrot facts!

  1. Parrots Can Taste Food with the Tops of Their Beaks

While parrots have taste glands located at their back throats, most of their taste buds are situated on the roof of their beaks. These are only 300 or so, which is significantly lower than what we have—10,000. 

While the number isn’t enough for us humans to distinguish between sour and umami, parrots can certainly tell when a food is to their taste or not.

  1. Parrot Beaks Are Impressively Strong

Unlike other birds, parrots have beaks that curve downwards. The top part is also bigger than the bottom, and while tempting to touch, it’s best not to. 

Deceptively beautiful, their beaks are extremely strong — they can crush nuts (which usually need nutcrackers) and break metal cages open. You certainly don’t want your fingers anywhere near them — even if the parrot seems friendly enough.

  1. Parrots Can Eat with Their Feet

Courtesy of Pexels

Given their anatomy, birds have mastered the art of gripping with their feet. But parrots, in particular, can eat the way we do — hold food up to their beaks! They can hold onto food with one, balance on the other, and then start to eat. Their toes are fleshier, making them akin to human fingers. 

  1. Parrots Can Be Lefties or Righties

We often wonder about hand dominance in children — but did you know that parrots exhibit handedness too? A study of Australian parrots showed that these little creatures have distinct preferences for foot usage when eating. Other adult parrots show they exclusively use either their left or right foods when holding food!

  1. Parrots Are Good Climbers

Parrots’ foot grippers are so powerful that they can climb quickly! Parrots have two toes in front and two behind, which helps them hold onto ropes, metal, and other materials. This helps their wings rest, we reckon! As predators in the wild, though? They can be pretty powerful. 

  1. Most Parrot Species Can Imitate Sounds, Including Human Speech

Parrots are highly intelligent. Apart from demonstrating abilities to use tools and solve puzzles, parrots can also learn human speech and sound. Alex the Parrot, studied by scientist Irene Pepperberg, was trained to use words not just to speak — but also to identify objects. He later learned how to count them, describe them, and answer more complex questions with “80% accuracy.”

This is why you can speak to parrots whenever you wish, so long as you help them learn the right words! They first imitate, then later learn how to communicate. But, of course, it still depends on the individual parrot in question.

  1. Parrots Are Social Animals

Courtesy of Pexels

Apart from bonding with humans, most parrot species enjoy living in big flocks or pandemoniums. They can live in groups with a whopping thousand members, making them highly social creatures. 

Given their abilities to speak, they’re also extremely vocal. This trait is also used to communicate with one another, especially in rainforests and other dangerous areas they may come across. 

  1. Most Parrots Can Be Found in Tropical Regions

There are around 350 known species of living parrots on Earth. Most of them live in tropical and subtropical regions where the weather is warm and food is abundant. These birds are most diverse in Australasia and South America.

Some parrots, however, are rule-breakers and reside in areas with cooler temperate climates. For instance, the kea is a parrot that lives in the alpine regions of New Zealand. This bird nests in underground burrows or crevices within tree roots.

  1. Parrots Are Omnivores

What do parrots eat, exactly? Well, most parrots are omnivorous, which means they can eat both plants and animals.

Parrots mostly eat seeds, fruits, nuts, buds, and other parts of plants. However, they occasionally go for insects and even meat. Some of them, such as lories and lorikeets, have beaks and tongues that are specialized for feeding on flower nectar and soft fruits. Still, even they snack on animal material from time to time.

  1. Some Parrots Are Migratory

Courtesy of Pexels

Most parrots stay in the same general range throughout the year. However, some parrots are migratory. They fly great distances in search of food, warmth and shelter. For instance, the swift parrot (Lathamus discolor) crosses the Bass Strait between mainland Australia and Tasmania, settling where there are plenty of flowers to feed on.

  1. Many Parrot Species Mate for Life

Most birds only pair up during the breeding season, but many parrot species mate for life. They typically stay with their partners and raise the young together. No wonder some small parrot species are called “lovebirds!”

  1. Parrots Have Been on Earth for a Long Time

Scientists believe that parrots have been living on our planet since around 82 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period. These birds survived the extinction events that wiped out many other animals. Then, they branched out and formed the hundreds of species we know today.

  1. Some Parrots Weigh as Much as a Housecat

Courtesy of Flickr

Parrots come in many different shapes and sizes. The smallest parrot is the Buff-faced Pygmy parrot, which typically stands at the height of 3.4 inches (8.6 cm) and only weighs 0.41 ounces (11.6 g). Meanwhile, the kakapo weighs up to 6.6 pounds (3 kg) — that’s about as heavy as a housecat!

  1. Not All Parrots Can Fly

Courtesy of National Geographic

Most parrots can fly high and perch on tree branches to eat seeds, nuts, and fruits, but not all parrots can do this. 

The kakapo, a parrot in New Zealand, is the only flightless parrot species. It has an owl-like face and awkwardly waddles around the forest floors. However, their strong legs make them excellent climbers. 

Instead of flying, kakapos use their wings for balance. They also have soft feathers because the feathers don’t need to be stiff and rigid for flight.

Frequently Asked Questions on Parrots

How long do parrots live?

The answer depends on the species, but many parrots live a long time. Many large parrots live around 35 to 50 years, and some even surpass the 80-year mark.

Do all parrots talk?

Not all parrots can talk, so it’s best not to get a parrot if you just want it to mimic your words. Some species are more adept at mimicking sounds than others. However, even in those species, many other factors can affect their talking ability.

Are parrots good pets?

Parrots can be a handful, and they’re not ideal pets for children. They can be loud and demanding and tend to chew on things. Their intelligence also makes them prone to boredom and stress. So, it’s best to take care of parrots only if you have the space, resources, and time to do so.

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