Parrots, like all other birds, are warm blooded animals. This means that their body temperature is maintained through internal metabolic processes, rather than their external environment.
Contrary to what many people may believe, parrots are not color blind. Nor do they only see in certain colors such as dogs and cats do. It is true that parrots are able to see all of the same colors in the color spectrum that we humans are able to see. In fact, parrots even have better eyesight than we humans do.
This is because these marvelous birds not only have the different cones in their eyes that allow them to see all of the different colors in the color spectrum, but they also have a fourth cone that we humans do not possess. This fourth cone allows parrots to see ultraviolet light in addition to the other colors in the spectrum. Humans are unable to see this spectrum of light without using special technology. This fact presented by itself is fascinating enough and makes the parrot quite a unique and sophisticated creature.
One might begin to wonder however, why is it necessary for these birds to be able to see so many different colors? The answer lies in the fact that in order for them to see others of their species they must be able to differentiate colors. This survival mechanism is what allows the parrots to flock together and recognize each other more easily.
Although it is not entirely understood yet, research has suggested that these birds may possess such an ability in order to recognize birds of the opposite sex more easily when trying to search for a mate. To explain further, it is believed that the way ultraviolet light reflects off of the feathers of the parrots differs from a male bird to a female. It is truly fascinating how a parrot’s eyes function in order to help its species survive and procreate.
Parrots do not migrate the way many birds do in the sense of flying vast distances across the ocean to a warmer climate. Rather, parrots engage in semi-migratory behavior, moving to new areas within their continent when the monsoonal rains replenish water sources, or to where the best food source is often located.
The swift parrot and the orange bellied parrot in Tasmania make their way across the treacherous waters of Bass Straight after breeding in order to spend the winter season on the mainland. Although migrating away from the cold Tasmanian winter winds may seem like a good strategy, these birds are often faced with many dangers on the way to the mainland. Just a few of the many obstacles these parrots face include the potential bad weather blowing them off course, or arriving at their destination to find poor conditions and scarce supplies of food.
It comes as no surprise then that these species are both counted amongst our most threatened birds. Migratory birds such as these require good conditions not just in their place of origin, but also in their migratory destinations as well as all of the stops they make along the way.
Feeding table scraps to birds is a practice that has gained lots of popularity among pet owners; however what many do not realize is that this could end up causing more harm than good in the end. Although some birds may love chocolate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they should eat it. Humans love chocolate too, but that isn’t to say that it doesn’t still cause many health problems later in life.
Chocolate is bad for birds! It is not only bad because it is high in fat and calories, it is also bad for them because it contains an ingredient known as theobromine. This compound is poisonous to dogs and cats, and yes even birds. In fact, due to their smaller size and rapid metabolism birds may be even more susceptible to chocolate’s toxic effects than other animals. A bird’s body is not equipped to digest this compound in the proper way and can cause many health problems.
Generally, the sweeter the chocolate or the more sugar it contains, the less theobromine present. (Milk chocolate contains about 1-2 mg of theobromine per gram while dark unsweetened chocolate may contain anywhere from 15-16 mg per gram). Despite this tidbit of information, no chocolate should be given to birds no matter what the type. Signs of chocolate toxicity include: hyperactivity, diarrhea, vomiting, heart arrhymthmias, disorientation, seizures, dark colored droppings and death.
Some other foods that should never be fed to birds include: salt, onions, avocados, caffeine, alcohol, some seeds such as apple seeds, and pits. All of these are toxic to birds. Other ways to ensure that your bird is not eating anything it shouldn’t be is to keep items such as chocolate out of its reach and also by only feeding your bird high quality foods that have been cleaned properly and are free of any pesticides, bugs, mold, etc. If a food item smells funny or is moldy, or anything of the like do not feed it to your bird.
Another cause of contaminated food is mycotoxin tainted food. Mycotoxins are chemicals produced by certain varieties of molds and fungi. The most commonly implicated foods that have been found to contain mycotoxins include poor quality peanuts, peanut butter, breads, meats, cheese, and grains. Making sure food is cleaned and stored properly is the number one way to ensure your bird won’t get sick or die from food illness. Any foods should be kept in a cool, dry place, preferably in an air-tight container or sealed in a zip lock bag. Soft, moist foods or foods that have been soaked in water should be discarded after a few hours in the cage to prevent them from building up bacteria and mold that can make the bird sick and even result in death.
Although parrots have been known to talk or mimic human speech, it is true that they do not have larynx with vocal chords. Instead, these birds have syrinx (a distended portion of the trachea) Due to the way these creatures are equipped, sound is then accomplished by expelling air across the mouth of the bifurcated trachea. Different sounds are then produced by changing the depth and shape of the trachea. While many parrots have been known for mimicking human speech, the African Grey Parrots of all subspecies are known for their superiority in imitating sounds and human speech and have shown that some are even able to associate words with their meanings and form simple sentences.
The brain to body ratio of psittacines and corvines is actually comparable to that of higher primates and along with other birds such as crows and ravens, parrots are considered to be among the most intelligent of birds. Some studies done in bird physiology have even helped us discover that the lower part of the avian brain is functionally similar to that of a human’s. However, the question of why birds imitate human speech still remains unanswered.
Parrots are often taught to speak without understanding the meaning of the words. The method most commonly used is to place a mirror between the parrot and the trainer. The trainer, hidden by the mirror then utters words, and the parrot seeing his own reflection in the mirror enjoys the sight of “another parrot speaking” and begins to imitate all that is said by the trainer hiding behind the mirror. Not only have parrots demonstrated intelligence through scientific testing of language using ability, but some species have even shown that they can be highly skilled when it comes to solving puzzles or using tools.
Whether a parrot is nocturnal or diurnal is dependent on the particular species. However, most parrots are classified as being diurnal. The ancient, flightless Kakapo however is considered to be the world’s rarest and strangest parrot within existence today. It is also the only flightless parrot, as well as the only parrot that is known to be nocturnal.