10 Fun Facts about Parrots

With their captivating colors, acrobatic antics and often silly personalities, parrots are hard to resist. Parrots are long-living, intelligent and highly social birds who require high amounts of attention and enrichment. Getting curious about this avian character that is the parrot? Let’s get a little bird-brained with some fun facts about them!


A group of parrots is called a Pandemonium

With the word pandemonium literally meaning wild and noisy, there seems to be no other fitting name for this group of social chatterboxes. Groups of parrots are often noisy, chaotic, and manic – especially younger parrots – hence why they might be called a pandemonium.


Parrots usually look identical to their mates

Males and females of most parrot species look virtually identical, and it usually requires a lab test to tell them apart. There are a couple of notable exceptions, however, such as the Solomon Island Eclectus where males have flame-colored beaks and are bright emerald green in color as opposed to their female counterparts who have royal blue ensembles with black beaks and a bright scarlet head.


Parrots mate for life

Parrots generally stay together forever once they find their mate. Males have the responsibility of wooing the female through courtship display where he parades, dances and makes different expressions and sounds to impress her. They will do everything together once they’ve decided on a mate, including foraging, grooming, and sleeping. The only time the parrots will separate is if they fail to produce young, or if one of the partners dies.


Parrots can live for over 60 years

Depending on the species, some parrots can live for a very long time. Bigger parrots usually have a longer lifespan than their smaller counterparts. For example, the large African Grey is known to live beyond 60 years of age whereas medium-sized parrots commonly live between 15-20 years. Pet parrots commonly live longer than wild ones because they have fewer threats from predators and diseases. The current oldest parrot is 82-year-old Cookie, a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo that resides at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.


Parrots are omnivores

Parrots eat a wide variety of food, including flowers, seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects. In New Zealand, the native kea was first observed attacking and killing sheep in 1868 and were persecuted as sheep-killers until 1986 when they were granted protection status. Despite being omnivorous, it is not required to feed your pet parrot meat as they’re more than happy with yummy fruits and vegetables.


Parrots can lay up to 8 eggs at a time

Both parrot parents will take turns sitting on the eggs during the incubation period of 18 to 30 days. Parrots usually lay clutches of 2-4 eggs once per year. Smaller species may lay eggs 1-3 times a year, depending on the weather and their health. Most parrots lay their eggs in a nest, although some choose to lay their eggs in tree holes, ground tunnels, and rock cavities. Parrot chicks will only reach adulthood when they’re between 1 to 4 years old depending on the species.


Parrots have very strong beaks

The largest macaws have beaks so powerful that they can crush a Brazil nut and even break open metal cages with it. It is thus not advisable to place your fingers anywhere near a parrot’s beak unless you have a very close bond with them to prevent hurting yourself.


Only one member of the parrot family can’t fly

The Kakapo parrot is the ONLY member of the parrot family that can’t fly. The Kakapo of New Zealand is the heaviest parrot and can weight up to 9lbs – the average weight of an adult house cat, with a length of over 2 feet. It is also the only parrot that is nocturnal, mainly so that it can escape prey easier at night. It is however amazing at jumping and climbing trees. Unfortunately, the Kakapo is extremely rare, with only around 142 thought to be left in the world.


Parrots have zygodactyl toes

Instead of the usual three-in-one-behind arrangement like most other birds, parrot toes are configured with two in the front and two behind. Their unique feet make them incredible climbers and formidable eaters, being the only bird to be able to hold food up to their beak while eating with their feet. Their fleshy toes act a lot like how human fingers do.


Parrots are one of the most intelligent birds

Not only are parrots capable of mimicking human speech, but they can also add, subtract and understand the meaning of zero. An African grey parrot named Alex was said to have the intelligence of a 5-year-old human. Puck, a cherry blue parakeet, earn himself the world record for his vocabulary skills, with a recognized set of 1,728 words. In fact, parrots are so intelligent that they are known to use tools! Researchers at the University of York and University of St. Andrews observed male vasa parrots using date pits and pebbles to pulverize cockle shells, ate the powder and then offered a regurgitated calcium-rich snack to females before mating.


We hope you enjoyed these 10 fun facts about parrots! Stay tuned for more fun facts about other animals to come!


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