What Distinguishes Parrots from other birds?
Parrots are the most endangered of all bird species
Smallest parrot: Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot: 3.2 inches
Largest parrot: Hyacinth Macaw: 3.3 feet
Most parrot species are monogamous breeders
Frequently mimic sounds and speech
Parrots live on every continent except Antarctica
The Kakapo parrot of New Zealand is the only flightless parrot
Some African Grey Parrots can associate words with meanings
Since mid evil Europe, ownership of parrots has been a symbol of status. Parrots were a mark of royalty. Christopher Columbus, the renowned explorer returned to Spain with astounding parrots as a prize as valuable as gold. So, what has been so special about parrots for centuries? Color? Talking ability? Why would all of Europe crave parrots?
Yes. Christopher Columbus did indeed give his Queen Isabella a pair of beautiful Cuban Amazon Parrots from his New World voyage centuries ago. This gentleman saw the astounding characteristics of vibrant parrots. But not all parrots are vibrant. And, parrots can be found in the New World and the the Old World. Never the less, we continue to be fascinated by parrots.
What distinguishes parrots from other birds?
Beaks vs. Bills:
The most obvious physical characteristic that sets parrots apart from other birds is their strong, curved, extensive beak. The upper mandible is prominent, curves downward, and comes to a point. A parrots beak is not fused to the skull, which allows it to move independently, and contributes to the tremendous biting pressure parrots are able to exert. The lower mandible is shorter, with a sharp, upward facing cutting edge, which moves against the flat portion of the upper mandible in an anvil-like fashion. Seed eating parrots have a strong tongue which helps to manipulate seeds or position nuts in the bill so that the mandibles can apply an appropriate cracking force. As you can see, a parrots beak is designed to make toothpicks out of wood, crack open nuts, and intricately take things apart. Parrots need to work their beak. That's why your parrot needs a huge selection of bird toys.
Parrot Feet: Parrots have an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed feet. But notice how a parrots toe arrangement is different from a typical bird. Parrots have two toes facing forward and two toes facing rearward on each foot. The scientific term for this arrangement is call zygodactyl.
It's the zygodactyl feet that allow parrots to hold food while they are eating and to actually climb branches as opposed to hopping or jumping from branch to branch. Parrots also use their beak as another "foot." Never the less, as you can see, parrots need a variety of bird perches to keep their unique foot muscles in shape.