Parrots: The Unsung Avians

Sarah Newman, Staff Writer

Think of all of the birds you’ve seen throughout your lifetime – crows, robins, cardinals, the occasional hawk, chickadees, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, blue jays. Now think of all the birds you haven’t seen in their natural habitats – penguins, emus, harpies, and parrots.

Parrots are interesting animals. Not only are they extremely intelligent, but they have also made their way into our lives by becoming our companions. And one of the amazing things about them is their longevity. Most parrots can live to at least 50 years old. Unfortunately, many people do not get to enjoy the company of a parrot, whether in their houses or in the wild.

This is not to mention the wide variety of parrots- cockatoos, macaws, African greys, amazons.

Parrots are versatile animals- they live in a multitude of places, mainly rainforests, in Africa, Asia, Australia, and South and Central America. A few small populations live near the border of Mexico in the United States while other stragglers inhabit the cities of Europe.

The parrots’ diet consists of seeds, nuts, insects, fruit, and flowers, depending on their environment. Fortunately, their faces are equipped with hard beaks to crack the shells surrounding their meals.

Many parts of parrot behavior can be compared to human behavior. Cockatoos, for example, find mates for the breeding season but stay together during the nonbreeding season. A pair will stick together until one of them dies.

Unfortunately, several species of parrots are endangered, whether from deforestation, climate change, invasive species, or illegal wildlife trade. Some parrots on islands, isolated from mainland species, are being killed due to the introduction of invasive species. These parrots have never seen these unfamiliar species before, so they see no threat. Unfortunately, some introduced species pose a threat to parrots and other native species. In these cases, the populations of parrots could decrease because of limited resources, including space and food.

Poaching also plays a significant role in the decrease of parrot populations. Do you find the feathers of a macaw absolutely stunning? Their colors are very vivid. However, this makes them – and other beautiful birds – a prime target for poaching. Monk parakeets in Argentina are seen as pests, and there was once a bounty offered in order to maintain the crops in the country.

Several parrot species are popular as household companions. However, these parrots are not domesticated – they still have their natural instincts. They are also hard to take care of, but it is all worth it in the end when you have an avian friend by your side – and the best part is that some species of parrots live to 50 or 60 years old. But keep in mind that when you are looking for a parrot, you should choose one that is not endangered in the wild.

Whether in the wild or in your house, parrots are complex birds with many unique traits that make them special and worth keeping around.