Lessons with Dad: Parrots

Hello, my curious readers! Today’s story will be slightly different because my twins, Neni and Nat have told me that I’ve mainly spoken about animals with fur/ hair! The only animal which we spoke about that didn’t have hair/ fur was the crocodile which has scaly skin! So, today I’ve decided to talk about a new type of animal, it’s small in nature, colourful and covered in feathers! Yes, it’s a bird but which type of bird? It’s native to the wild but is also very popular as a pet! It has a curved beak and is usually very brightly coloured. The biggest hint of all is it can imitate sounds! It’s a parrot!

Parrots belong to a biological order which has about 350 different types of species. This biological order is called Psittaciformes. Some of these different types of parrots are called macaws, cockatiels, parakeets, Kakado's etc. Parrots are usually found in warmer climates where there is loads of sun! The parrots found in South America, North America and Mexico are known as New World Parrots while the ones found in other warm regions such as Asia, Africa and Australia are Old World Parrots. All these regions are known as ‘tropics/tropical’ because of the warm climates and sun. Parrots are native to weather like this and won’t be found naturally in the colder climates.

Parrots are known to be very intelligent birds. When they are born, they learn how to communicate with fellow parrots by imitating their sounds.

 A group of parrots is called a ‘flock’. Parrots must learn to imitate the sounds of their flock, it is not natural to them. Just like when you were a baby, you learnt to talk! For some animals, language and communication style is natural to them from birth. For example, no one teaches a dog to bark or a pig to oink, but parrots learn by imitating. They communicate with other parrots to bond and to also warn of danger. When parrots are pets and kept indoors they can imitate sounds they hear around them.

Pet parrots imitate sounds at home because they think these are sounds from their flock. Sometimes parrots can imitate the sound of a vacuum, or a phone ringtone or a car horn.

What sound in your home do you think a parrot may imitate? It is also not beyond a parrot to imitate human speech. There may be words that are often repeated in the house that a parrot could imitate. For instance, your mum saying your name very loudly every day may be frequent enough for a parrot to imitate. That would be funny, wouldn’t it? To think it was your mum calling, but it was just your pet parrot playing with you! This is exactly what happens to us at home; as Neni does not stop talking, we often call her name to beg her for some quiet time breaks. She used to grant us little quiet breaks until our parrot learned her name and calls her constantly, so now once she stops talking to us she starts talking nonstop to the parrot, and the parrot talks non stop back to her! So we end up having two parrots at home!

The types of parrots that imitate the most are the African grey parrots, parakeets, Amazon parrots and macaws.

Parrots are also very intelligent, they observe by cocking their heads to the side and following movement. They usually sit very still but it doesn’t mean they are up to nothing. They can associate some words with objects. Parrots are seen to be very playful animals; some studies claim that parrots have the same intelligence of an average four year old child! That makes them quite smart as compared to other animals.

As to whether parrots understand what they are saying when they imitate us, we are not too sure. But they can repeat every word and can even use them in the right context sometimes. Imagine doing something funny and the parrot lets out a laugh it has imitated. How did it know it was appropriate to laugh at that very moment?

 

 

Though a parrot is a type of bird, it does some things that other birds don’t do. Parrots eat with their feet. Most birds ‘peck’ at things they wish to eat, while parrots pick it with their claws and hold it to their beaks.

These feet are called ‘zygodactyl’ feet, with two toes facing forward and another two facing backwards. These feet are very strong.

 

They cling to twigs, branches or surfaces for hours so the parrot can sit still. It can even hold them upside down!

They use their feet like you use yours, you stand on them for hours, you walk with them and you can climb with them. The only difference is we don’t eat with our feet! Studies show parrots normally prefer one foot over the other, isn’t that so similar to us? Humans are left-handed/ right-handed and left-footed or right-footed. Which hand and foot do you prefer? You can tell by the one you write with, depend on more and stand on more.

Having a parrot as a pet is a long commitment. They live a very long time, sometimes as long as 80 years old. It means your parrot could actually grow old with you. Depending on their size, they grow to different ages. Small parrots can grow until 15 – 20 years while big parrots can grow from 80 – 100 years old. Imagine a 100 year old parrot! Macaws are the parrot breed that supposedly lives the longest.

Parrots have very strong large beaks. The upper beak is curved and covers the lower beak. They use their beaks for different purposes other than eating. Because of the curved nature of the beak, this is why they cannot peck at food the way other birds do. Most birds have pointy beaks which are of equal length.

Parrots beaks are very strong and can break open food they like to eat, like nuts from trees. Do you think a parrot can crack a hard nut open; a nut as hard and big as a coconut? I’m here to tell you it can! See, they are strong.

Parrots are known to be very romantic partners. Unlike other animals, parrots mostly have one mate for their entire life. The Male parrots usually shows its feathers and dances to attract the female parrot. When they choose each other, they look out for each other by looking for food together, sleeping together and grooming each other. It is a usual sight to see two parrots sitting on a branch for long hours. This is where the term ‘love birds’ originated from. Have you ever heard that term? It refers to a couple sitting side by side for long periods of time. Perhaps you have seen your parents do this in front of the television!

Parrots lay white eggs to reproduce, but unlike other birds do not have them in nests. They usually keep their eggs in tree holes, both parents care for the young parrots until they can fend for themselves and can leave home.

The eggs usually take 15 – 40 days to hatch, and the female parrot usually only has two to eight of them at one time. Baby parrots are called ‘parrot chicks’, and in the first two weeks of their life they are blind and so will heavily rely on their parents for food. They are also not born with feathers and will grow them after three weeks.

Do you know back in the day, having a parrot as a pet was only done by the extremely rich? Queens, Kings and Princes were the only ones who had the colourful bright birds as pets.

 

 

Now years later, all manner of people can have a pet parrot. Parrots are a pet that need a lot of love and affection. Without this they can be very annoying and untrained. As I said before, parrots are playful, you must dedicate time each day to play with your parrot and cater to it.

 

 

Parrots are omnivores just like humans and can eat both veggies and meat. They eat things like bugs, insects, flowers, seeds and nuts. Parrots do not eat a lot as they are not huge animals, they can weigh between an ounce and nine pounds depending on is breed.

 

 

I told you today would be different! Did you enjoy learning about parrots? I sure did enjoy sharing! Check below to do our usual test to refresh on all that you have just learnt about parrots! And see you soon my little curious readers!

 

 

Sources: IP FACTLY

Live Science

National Geographic

 

Quiz

 

Parrots are very dull colored. True/ False

Answer: False

 

Parrots can imitate human sounds and speeches. Why do they do this?

Answer: They do this because they assume they are sounds from their flock.

 

What are baby parrots called?

Answer: Parrot Chicks

 

Baby parrots can immediately fend for themselves and are covered in beautiful feathers. True/ False

Answer: False

 

Parrots have a very weak beak and have to be fed with a knife and fork. True/ False

Answer: False

 

How many mates do parrots usually have in their lifetime?

Answer: 1

 

What does ‘love birds’ refer to?

Answer: It refers to a couple sitting side by side for long periods of time, just like a male and female parrot.


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