The Plumage Contains Antibacterial Pigments
Psittacofulvin, informally called psittacines, is a bacteria-resistant pigment specifically for parrot birds. The pigment is found in bright red, orange, and yellow colors in the plumage and counteracts the degradation of the plumage.
In a study published in Biology Letters in 2011, researchers exposed different colors of feathers to the feathery bacterial strain Bacillus licheniformis and found that psittacofulvine pigments helped protect birds’ plumage from infestation.
Parrots Are Zygodactyla
All parrot birds, woodpeckers, ospreys, and some owls have evolved to be paired, so-called zagodactyla. This means that the two middle toes (2 and 3) point forward and the two outer toes (1 and 4) point backward-something that can be likened to an X or a K.
This anatomy allows the birds to have exceptional characteristics when it comes to climbing, grasping, hunting, and foraging. The most frequent foot construction in birds is anisodactylous, which has three toes in front and one toe behind.
Not All Parrots Are Tropical
There are about 350 parrot species worldwide. Of these, most live in tropical or subtropical climates in Asia, Australia, Africa, and South and Central America. After all, a few species break the norm and live in alpine areas. One of these is the endemic Koop parrot (Nestor notabilis) that lives in the abundant snowy landscapes of New Zealand.
In the subtropical Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in Mexico, which is 1150 km away, the endangered pine parakeet (Rhynchopsitta terrisi) nests at an altitude of 2000-3000 meters.
The pine parakeet lives mainly in coniferous forests with a lot of pine mixed with oak. But wait, why is it called a pine parakeet when pine is toxic to parrots? Of course, it is a myth that pine trees contain poison that is harmful to parrots. You can safely continue to use pine in your cages and aviaries.
If you do not, it’s time to start – highly recommended! There are also parrot species that now live in European climates after escaping from captivity. Perhaps the most famous example is the Stuttgart Amazon, about which there is a special article to read here on the website.
Parrot Species Usually Look Identical Between the Sexes
As a rule, it is not possible to distinguish the sexes of different parrot species with the naked eye. With a few exceptions, females and males look more or less identical. A DNA test or an analysis of the behavioral pattern is the safest alternative for distinguishing sex in both domestic and wild populations.
An exception to the golden rule, however, is noble parrots (Eclectus roratus). The species is sexually dimorphic, and it was long thought that the female with her red and purple plumage and the male with her intense green were two different species. The picture below speaks its own clear language. A clearer explanation of who is female and male is not needed, is it?
Parrots Also Like a Lamb
Most parrot birds are omnivores and thus eat what can be found in their immediate area—much like Scandinavia’s equivalent of a crow. The diet can consist of everything from seeds, nuts, fruits, shoots, flowers, insects, and even meat. In New Zealand, Kelapa parrots and Kaka parrots are regularly observed eating meat.
At the end of the 19th century, the birds were considered a threat to the farmers as they hunted sheep from their herds. Kerr was persecuted and killed by farmers until 1986 when the species was included in the Red List.
Despite being fruit and nectar-eating birds, rainbow lorikeets are frequently observed eating meat from feeding grounds in Australia. Remember that wild birds and captive birds have different nutritional needs and abilities to assimilate food.
For most reasons, it is not appropriate to offer animal protein to a captive bird. Bacterial infections caused by coliform bacteria, Aeromonas bacteria, and pseudomonas bacteria can cause inflammation in the throat. Even sugary foods and carbohydrates can contribute to an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans.
Parrots Are Real Craftsmen
We all agree that parrots are intelligent. But are they intelligent enough to use tools and implements? Researchers at the University of York and the University of St. Andrews have found the first evidence that parrots use tools in their daily lives.
Vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa) have been observed in captivity using tools to assimilate calcium from seashells. They used pebbles and kernels from dates with an impressive technique to eat the powdered contents of the snails – to momentarily push the contents up to a waiting female.
The world record for a parrot bird’s vocabulary reaches 1728 words!
In 1995, the budgerigar Puck was adopted into the Guinness Book of Records. He was owned at the time by Camille Jordan in Petaluma, California (USA), and he learned a total of 1728 words during her lifetime.
The documentation consisted of 6 months of fieldwork by 21 volunteers who observed him on a total of 21 different occasions. In addition, there are approximately 30 hours of recorded material in the form of video and audio recordings that prove the world record.
Noble Parrots Determine the Sex of Their Young
Most bird species, including parrots, are monogamous, which means that a female and a male mate and stay together for the entire breeding season. For the noble parrots, the pairing relationship looks very different. Did you know that a noblewoman can mate with up to 7 males at the same time? She then relies on the males to provide enough food for both themselves, and they’re young.
The more males, the more food and better conditions there are for the breeding to be successful, i.e., for the chicks to leave the nest to fly. This unusual method of reproduction is counted as polyandry, i.e., when the female mates with more than two males in the same breeding season.
To complicate matters further, it is not uncommon for noble parrots to engage in polygynandry, meaning that the male also mates with several individuals during the same breeding.
Something that is even more astonishing is that the species seems to be able to determine the sex of their young. Observations that have been made have shown that females for several years produced only males and then, all of a sudden, started producing females.
The longest unbroken chain showed up to 20 miles from one and the same female. Research shows that the noble parrots’ pups under normal conditions have a sex distribution and survival statistics of 50%.
The statistical probability that a female will only breed 20 males in a row is considered low. Observations have been made on several nesting birds with the same result, hence the conclusion that they seem to be able to determine the sex of their offspring. Exactly why it is this way is unclear.
The world’s largest cockatoo plays drums
There are only 3,000 specimens of the world’s largest cockatoo, the palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus). This species has eluded scientists for decades – as the only animal species in the world that plays drums with a musical mind. Research has mapped and analyzed 18 drumming males with over 130 individual drumming sequences.
Research has shown that the palm cockatoo shares many basic musical principles and techniques with the instrumental music that we humans engage in, including the production of instruments, performance, individual styles, repetitive rhythms, and consistent performance (i.e., not random and improvised).
These discoveries can provide an in-depth perspective on the development of rhythmic and instrumental music within our own species. Animal species that use tools always have a connection to food-seeking behavior. Palm cake cookies are thus a unique species that use tools in order to produce sound.