Loro is the common name of one of the three superfamilies of the order Psittaciformes, its real name is Psittacoidea. They are more widespread than the other superfamilies: New Zealand cockatoos and parrots.

They are birds known for extremely bright feathers of various colors and for the ability of some species to speak, although they are not really aware of what they say, they only imitate the sounds of animals and humans.

Different species of parrots

Different species of parrots

Species

The Psittaciformes superfamily contains about 372 species of parrots.

Strigopoidea Superfamily - New Zealand Parrots

  • Family Nestoridae: The kea and kaka and several extinct species from the New Zealand region.
  • Family Strigopidae: The kakapo, flightless parrot and in danger of extinction.

Superfamily Cacatuoidea - Cockatoos

  • Family Cacatuidae
    • Subfamily Nymphicinae: Nymph cockatoo (Unique species)
    • Subfamily Calyptorhynchinae: Black cockatoos.
    • Subfamily Cacatuinae
      • Microglossini Tribe: Mourning Cockatoo (Unique Species)
      • Cacatuini Tribe: White, pink and gray cockatoos.

Superfamily Psittacoidea - Typical Parrots

  • Psittacidae Family
    • Subfamily Psittacinae: Two African genera, Psittacus y Poicephalus.
    • Subfamily Arinae, Neotropical parrots:
      • Arini Tribe: Macaws and related.
      • Androglossini tribe: Neotropical short-tailed parrots.
        • Incertae_sedis_
        • Pionites
        • Deroptyus: The cacique parrot.
        • Hapalopsittaca
        • Nannopsittaca
        • Psilopsiagon
        • Bolborhynchus
        • Touit
        • Brotogeris
        • Myiopsitta
        • Forpus
  • Family Psittrichasiidae
    • Subfamily Psittrichasinae: Aquiline Parrot (Unique species)
    • Subfamilia Coracopsinae
  • Familia Psittaculidae
    • Subfamily Platycercinae
      • Pezoporini Tribe: Terrestrial and related parakeets.
      • Platycercini tribe: Broad-tailed parakeets.
    • Subfamilia Psittacellinae
    • Subfamily Loriinae
      • Loriini Tribe: Loris.
      • Tribu Melopsittacini: El common parakeet.
      • Cyclopsittini tribe: Fig tree parrots.
    • Subfamily Agapornithinae: Agapornis.
    • Subfamilia Psittaculinae
      • Polytelini tribe: Australasian parrots and parakeets.
      • Psittaculini tribe: Asian parrots.
      • Micropsittini tribe: Microloros.

Features

The parrot grows between 0,8 - 1 m depending on the species. The smallest species in the world is the pygmy parrot that is the same height as a human finger. The hyacinth macaw is the largest species of parrot on the planet growing one meter tall. By weight, the kakapo is the heaviest at 3 kg in weight.

The parrot is the most intelligent species of bird because it is able to imitate the noises of its surroundings. Some parrots are capable of imitating complex sounds and human voices with amazing perfection. An African gray parrot was discovered with a vocabulary of about 800 words.

Most species of parrots have a fairly long life compared to other species of birds (even other animal species). Average life span is about 60 years, although some specimens have reached 100 years.

If we ignore the plumage, the physical characteristic that draws the most attention is its beak. The upper jaw stands out over the lower jaw and is curved downward ending in a point. As it is not fused with the skull, it allows it enough mobility to exert tremendous force. For example, a large macaw can exert a bite force of 35 kg / cm2 that is close to the bite of a large dog. The lower jaw is oriented upwards, being shorter, affiliated and ending in a beak. It moves against the flat part of the upper jaw in the shape of an anvil.

Here we can appreciate the strong beak of a macaw

Here we can appreciate the strong beak of a macaw

On the inner edge of the beak we find touch receptors that allow them to perform very skillful manipulations. In feeding parrots it has a strong tongue that has tactile receptors similar to those found in the beak, which allows them to manipulate the seeds or place the nuts in the perfect place so that their jaws can break it.

The head is large, with two eyes placed laterally on the skull and positioned high, which gives them a different field of vision than other birds. It can see from under the tip of its beak, above its head and behind it without needing to turn its head. Its binocular field is also quite wide for a bird, but it cannot compete with that of primates.

The legs are strong with long, sharp claws. Their fingers are distributed in a zygodactyl pattern, that is, with two fingers forward and two back. This shape helps them cling to tree branches, climb, and balance. Although they also use them as hands, as they are capable of manipulating food and other objects with total dexterity as a monkey or a human would. Studies show that there are both right-handed and left-handed parrots and the preference varies by species.

Some species of parrots have unique characteristics, such as parrots that have a movable crest of feathers on the top of their head that can be raised or retracted. Other parrots, such as the Pacific parrots in the genera Vini and Phigys, are capable of ruffling crown and nape feathers. The red-fanned parrot is capable of raising and lowering a strip of its neck feathers at will.

Green colors predominate in plumage, although most species have a secondary color in small quantities. The plumage does not have sexual dimorphism, that is, it is identical in both sexes, with the exception of the eclectic parrot (eclectus roratus) where the male is green and the female is red. However, some species of parrots exhibit sexually dimorphic plumage in the ultraviolet spectrum that is incapable of being recognized by humans (with the naked eye).

Behavior

The behavior of parrots is largely unknown, due to numerous challenges being encountered as they are difficult to capture and mark. Marking is done by ringing or tagging on the fly but parrots tend to chew on them.

However, parrots are known to have strong and direct flight. Most species spend their time perching or climbing trees. They also use their beak to climb by grabbing or hooking on branches and other supports. On the ground, they move slowly and wobble.

Intelligence and learning

Numerous studies with captive birds have shown that the parrot, together with crows (Corvidae family) are the most intelligent birds. Parrots are capable of imitating human speech, and some like the Loro gris (Psittacus erithacus) they may be able to match words to their meanings and even form simple sentences.

Normally intelligence is associated with the cerebral cortex of the brain, which in birds is relatively small but birds use a different part of the brain, the mid-rostral HVC, as the intelligence center. Neuroscientist Harvey J. Karten, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, showed that this part of the brain is very similar to that of humans. Parrots have not only shown to have a great ability to imitate sounds, they have also done so by skillfully handling some tools and solving puzzles that scientists have challenged them.

Learning begins when they are young, and the first year of life is the most important for social learning. The first social skills are acquired by interacting with siblings or in groups with other birds. The hunting process can be quite time consuming and they will learn it from their parents. The game also constitutes, to a large extent with the learning process and can be done both alone and in a group and serves to improve their motor mobility and social skills. In the aerial game you learn to avoid predators.

If a parrot does not receive stimulation during its first years of development it will delay it. In one study parrots were mixed with domestic chickens (3 months old) in tiny cages, after 9 months the parrots still behaved the same as chickens. Basically it could be said that they had adopted the behavior of chickens. This is important for captive breeding, such as in homes or zoos, so that good habits are acquired from the beginning and do not indulge in harmful behaviors such as self-plucking or aggressive behavior.

Sound and speech imitation

Parrots are capable of imitating human speech or other sounds. Many parrots in research have been shown to have a vocabulary of thousands of words, the ability to invent, use words in context and at the correct time. The parrots named Alex, a gray parrot owned by the owner Irene Pepperberg, and N'kisi (another gray parrot) were shown to have the ability to identify objects, describe them, count them, and even answer complex questions such as “How many red squares are there? «By not having vocal cords like humans, to create the different sounds the parrot expels the air, through the mouth of the bifurcated trachea, an organ called the syrinx.

The parrot with the greatest ability to imitate sounds and human speech is the gray parrot and all its subspecies, although the vast majority of species can imitate. The reasons that have led the parrot to develop the ability to imitate are still unknown, but gray parrots, in the wild, have been observed to imitate other birds. An ancient method of training parrots to speak is explained in the book titled Masnavi (Rumi of Persia) written in 1250.

Cooperation

Animal Cognition magazine stated that some parrots want to get the job done alone, while others prefer to cooperate like gray parrots. When there is a couple of parrots working together they do the tasks in order without problems, they even know when they have to do the job at the same time but they get on badly when it comes to changing roles. When there is a trio of parrots to solve a problem, two of them will form a pair but all three cooperate until the problem is solved.

Habitat

The parrot tends to inhabit densely forested tropical and subtropical areas, such as jungles. It is present on all continents, in countries such as Australia and Oceania, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central America, South America and Africa. Some islands in the Caribbean and Pacific contain endemic species. Most of the species come from Australasia and South America.

Distribution by types

  • The tribe of lorises (tribe Loriini) are found from Sulawesi and the Philippines in the north to Australia and across the Pacific to French Polynesia, although the greatest diversity is found in and around New Guinea.
  • The Arinae subfamily extends from northern Mexico and the Bahamas to Tierra del Fuego, in the extreme south of South America.
  • Pygmy parrots, Micropsittini tribe, are a small genus restricted to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
  • The Strigopoidea superfamily has three living species of New Zealand aberrant parrots.
  • Broad-tailed parakeets (subfamily Platycercinae) are restricted to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands as far east as Fiji.
  • The typical or true parrot family (Psittacoidea) encompasses a range of species ranging from Australia and New Guinea to southern Asia and Africa.
  • The center of biodiversity for the cockatoo is Australia and New Guinea, although some species live in the Solomon Islands, Wallacea and the Philippines.

Food

The parrot, in general, is an omnivorous animal (although it will depend on the species), as it feeds on seeds, fruits, nectar, pollen, buds, and sometimes arthropods and other animal prey. In most species the main food is the seeds and the beak has adapted to its opening, although sometimes, they have to help with their legs in the larger seeds.

All typical parrots, except the Pesquet parrot, use the same technique to obtain the seeds protected by a shell; it is kept between the jaws and the lower one crushes the shell so that the seed remains inside the beak. Most of the time when a parrot is detected consuming fruit, it is actually trying to get to the seed.

Sometimes the seeds can be poisoned to protect them from predators but parrots are able to remove the poisonous parts to ingest the seed without problems. Some species consume clay to release minerals that absorb toxic compounds left in the intestine.

The lorises, loriculae and the migrating parakeet mainly consume nectar and pollen. For this they have tongues with brush tips, as well as adaptations in their organs to support this type of diet. Other species also consume nectar and pollen when they are within reach.

As we discussed at the beginning, some species also consume animals, especially Invertebrate animals like larvae. For example, Perico Aligualdo (Psephotellus chrysopterygius) they eat water snails and Kea (Nestor sizeable) He has seen adult sheep hunt. He Antipodean Parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor) enter the den of the Pardela gorgiblanca (Procellaria the equator) when they are nesting to kill the adults. Some cockatoos and kaka extract larvae from branches and woods. The diet of the Yellow-tailed Funeral Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus) it is based almost exclusively on insects.

Some extinct parrots had exclusively carnivorous diets such as pseudasturids which were insectivores.

Predators

The parrot has few predators due to its large size and intelligence. Their natural predators are monkeys, snakes, and large raptors that tend to prefer their eggs more than the bird itself. Humans hunt or capture them to trade in as exotic pets.

Agapornis couple

Agapornis couple

Reproduction

The parrot is a monogamous species, with a few exceptions. They nest in cavities and do not have territories beyond their nesting areas. The couple bond for life, and not exclusively for nesting. Generally, the male displays himself before the female with a "parade" or "majestic walk" consisting of slow and deliberate steps, along with the "glow of eyes" where the pupil contracts to reveal the edge of the iris.

In other birds it is common to help feed other offspring that are not their own, in what is known as "cooperative breeding." However, in parrots this characteristic has not been observed except for the Gold Parrot (Pyrrhura orcesi) and guacamayo guaruba (Guaruba guarouba) that can have a polygynous behavior and allow group breeding or multiple females to collaborate in laying.

Most parrots nest in tree cavities, dug into cliffs (common in America) or in the ground, except for the Argentine parrot or monk (Myiopsitta monachus) and five species of turtle doves nest in the trees, and three Australian and New Zealand land parrots nest on the ground. Other species take advantage of termite nests to reduce the visibility of the nesting site or to create a favorable microclimate.

In all cases, both parents participate in the creation of the nest. the size can vary according to the species but ranges from 0,5 to 2 m long. Cockatoos line their nests with sticks, wood chips, and other plant materials.

In large parrot species, the holes for nesting can be limited and therefore disputes are created both with members of their own species and with other birds. What can cause some pairs to be unable to nest and reproduce with the consequent consequences. However, some arborists have increased the rate of reproduction by creating artificial holes for parrots to nest.

Development

The eggs are white. The female carries out the incubation, although the cockatoos, the blue parrot and the hanging spring parrot take turns. The female remains in the nest for most of the incubation period, but is helped by the male who feeds her. Incubation ranges from 17 - 35 days, but larger parrot species have longer incubation times.

The young are altricial at birth, that is, they are born blind, without open additive ducts, without hair or feathers and with reduced mobility. They will remain in the nest from three weeks to four months, varying between species, and thereafter they can be cared for by their parents for several more months.

It is typical in species selected by K they tend to have more difficulty reproducing. The care of the young takes several years to reach maturity and they have one or very few young a year and do not reproduce every year.

State of conservation

The parrot is declining due to various problems such as deforestation that destroys its habitat. They are also captured to trade as exotic pets. They are therefore listed as an "Endangered" species. Although it can vary between species.

Relationship with humans

Pets

Humans find parrots very attractive for their beauty and their ability to learn to "speak." Domestic parakeets are the most popular pet bird species. In 1992, the USA Today newspaper conducted a survey and published that there were about 11 million birds as pets, most of them being parrots. In Europe they are also very popular.

Parrots as pets can live in cages or aviaries and these must be according to their size so that they can move freely, although some species such as agopornis can be educated to leave their cage and live with humans without problems. Depending on the area they can be captured or bred in captivity. The most popular species as pets are: macaws, Amazon parrots, parrots, gray parrots, lovebirds, cockatoos, parakeets, caiques, parakeets, and species of Eclectus, Pionus and Poicephalus. The temperament and personality of the different species can vary, even within the same as there are gray parrots that do not want to speak even if they have the ability to do so.

Taking care of them is a huge effort and they require a lot of attention, very similar to that of a three-year-old child. To be confident with humans and tame they must be hand-fed and used to interacting with humans from an early age. However, some people become unable to prolong these long-term care and the parrot can start to bite when they are abused or neglected. They are also expensive to maintain as they require a lot of care as a veterinarian specialized in exotic birds, specific feeding, grooming, training, provision of toys, exercise and social interaction (both with other parrots and with humans) to achieve good health.

For many people, the parrot cannot be a good pet, because as they grow they develop their wild instincts such as screaming, chewing or biting causing serious injuries. Things that not many can bear. Perhaps this behavior is due to poor care and care of the parrot. When this happens, the parrot is sent to specialized centers to try to redirect them and send them to new homes. Some fail and are condemned to die by euthanasia as Dogs o cats.

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