order of birds

Parrots are birds of the order Psittaciformes. There are about 372 species in 86 genera. They are found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The greatest diversity of parrots is found in South America and Australasia.[1][2][3]

Temporal range: EoceneHolocene 50–0 Ma
A montage of six different types of parrot. Clockwise from top to bottom, these are two images of a large, squat, dull-green parrot; a skinny black parrot similar to a crow; a blue-black parrot with red cheeks and a large, hooked bill; a blue and yellow parrot with a hooked black beak and a white face; and a small, bright green parrot with a yellow collar and a black face.KakapoAustralian ringneckBlue-and-yellow macawKeaLesser vasa parrotPalm cockatoo
Clockwise top to bottom: the Kakapo and the Kea, both found in New Zealand, the Lesser vasa parrot endemic to Madagascar, the Palm cockatoo, the South American blue-and-yellow macaw, and the Australian ringneck.
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Psittacopasserae
Order: Psittaciformes
Wagler, 1830
Range of parrots, all species (red)
Papagaio female, Brasil

Parrots are intelligent birds. They have relatively large brains,[4] they can learn, and they can use simple tools.[5] Because some species have the ability to make sounds like human voices and have plumages with bright colors, many species are kept as pets. This includes some endangered and protected species.



They have a compact body with a large head and a short neck. Their beaks are short, strong and curved. The two parts of the beak are very strong and used to break fruits and seeds. The tongue is large and strong. Most parrots can fly, though some lost their powers of flight after they came to live on oceanic islands. The kakapo is an example.

Parrots have strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet (with two toes facing forward and two toes facing back) that are very useful to climb up trees. Many parrots are vividly coloured, and some are multi-coloured. The plumage of cockatoos ranges from mostly white to mostly black, with a mobile crest of feathers on the tops of their heads. Most parrots exhibit little or no sexual dimorphism.

Parrots are variably-sized. The smallest parrot is the pigmy parrot (Micropsitta pusio) with an adult weight of 11.5 grams (0.41 oz) and a length of 8.6 centimetres (3.4 in).[6] The hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) is longer than any other species of parrot, although half its length is tail.[7]


Parrot demonstrating its puzzle-solving skills

Parrots eat seeds, nuts, buds and other plant material. A few species sometimes eat animals and carrion (dead animal carcasses), while the lories and lorikeets are specialised for feeding on floral nectar and soft fruits. Almost all parrots nest in tree hollows, and lay white eggs from which hatch altricial (helpless) young.

Parrots are among the most intelligent birds. The ability of some parrots to make sounds like human voices makes them popular as pets.



The capture of wild parrots for the pet trade, as well as hunting, habitat loss and competition from invasive species, has diminished wild populations, with parrots being subjected to more exploitation than any other group of birds.[8] Measures taken to conserve the habitats of some high-profile species have also protected many of the less charismatic species living in the same ecosystems.[9]

Some parrots can live up to 80 years. Many parrots can imitate human speech; they can speak simple words if repeated a few times.

Origins and evolution


Transposons in the genomes of passerines and parrots are similar, but those in the genomes of other birds are not. This is strong evidence that parrots are the sister group of passerines.[10]

Europe is the origin of the first presumed parrot fossils, which date from about 50 million years ago (mya).[11] The climate there and then was tropical. Several fairly complete skeletons of parrot-like birds have been found in England and Germany.[12] On the whole it seems likely that these are not direct ancestors of the modern parrots, but related lineages which evolved in the northern hemisphere, and which have since died out.

The earliest records of modern parrots date to about 23–20 mya and are also from Europe. Subsequently, the fossil record—again mainly from Europe—consists of bones clearly recognisable as belonging to parrots of modern type. The southern hemisphere does not have nearly as rich a fossil record for this period as the northern, and contains no known parrot-like remains earlier than the early to middle Miocene, around 20 mya. The first unambiguous parrot fossil (as opposed to a parrot-like one) is found in the Miocene. It is an upper jaw, identical that of modern cockatoos.



  1. "Psittacine". American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2000. Archived from the original on 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2007-09-09.
  2. "Psittacine". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  3. "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Psittaciformes (Version 9.013)". 2008-12-29.
  4. Iwaniuk, Andrew 2004. "This bird is no airhead". Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Archived from the original on 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2007-09-09.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. Beynon, Mike 2000. "Who's a clever bird, then?". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2007-09-01. Retrieved 2007-09-09.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. Forshaw, Joseph M.; Cooper, William T. (1981) [1973, 1978]. Parrots of the World (corrected second ed.). David & Charles, Newton Abbot, London. p. 149. ISBN 0-7153-7698-5.
  7. E. Hagan (2004). "Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus - hyacinth macaw". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  8. Snyder N et al 2000. Parrots: status survey and conservation action plan, 2000-2004. Chapter 1. vii. IUCN ISBN 2-8317-0504-5. Chapter 1. vii.
  9. Snyder N. et al 2000. Parrots: status survey and conservation action plan, 2000-2004. Chapter 1. vii. IUCN ISBN 2-8317-0504-5. Chapter 2. page 12.
  10. Suh A, Paus M, Kiefmann M; et al. (2011). "Mesozoic retroposons reveal parrots as the closest living relatives of passerine birds". Nature Communications. 2 (8): 443–8. Bibcode:2011NatCo...2..443S. doi:10.1038/ncomms1448. PMC 3265382. PMID 21863010.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. Waterhouse, David M. (2006). "Parrots in a nutshell: The fossil record of Psittaciformes (Aves)". Historical Biology. 18 (2): 223–234. doi:10.1080/08912960600641224. S2CID 83664072.
  12. Dyke, GJ; Cooper, JH (2000). "A new psittaciform bird from the London clay (Lower Eocene) of England". Palaeontology. 43 (2): 271–285. doi:10.1111/1475-4983.00126. S2CID 84812434.

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