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Parrots: A fact file

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Originating in South Australasia, Parrots are some of the most amazing and beautiful creatures on the planet. With around 372 species from 86 genera, they are naturally found in tropical and subtropical regions of their world. By far the most interesting thing about the bird, besides its beauty, is the intelligence in which it exhibits. Many captive species of Parrot are able to mimic the human voice, but it is the African Grey Parrot

Dark in colour, the African Grey Parrot can be found in the rainforests of West and Central Africa. With a diet of primarily compromising of nuts, seeds and small fruits, the animal is considered the most intelligent creatures on the planet. Whereas most Parrots simply mimic the human voice, the African Grey Parrot has shown that it can actually associate words with objects, meanings and concepts. One lost African Grey parrot was even able to find its way home in the suburbs of Tokyo after repeating its name and address to police officers. Scientists believe that the African Grey has the equivalent cognitive ability of a six-year-old child along with dolphins and chimpanzees.t that finds itself at the top of the bill.

Got a chimp?

One notable African Grey named N’Kisi, was able to memorise over 950 words and even use them in context. After seeing a photograph of renowned primatologist, Jane Goodall, stood with a chimpanzee, it is said upon meeting her, N’Kisi asked the question ‘Got a chimp?’ in relation to the photograph. Another notable African Grey was the parrot simply known as ‘Alex’. Before his sudden death in 2007, it is said that Alex was able to identify up to 50 objects, count up to six, distinguish between shapes as well as understanding the variable concepts within words. He was even able to distinguish between colours, and after one day asking what colour he himself was, he learnt that he was grey.

The future of the Parrot

Unfortunately in 2007, the African Grey was to a species that is Near Threatened by the IUCN. Bird International suggested that 21% of African Greys are taken from the wild each year. With some of this coming from the pet trade, much of the damage is done by deforestation with the rainforests of West and Central Africa being used for lumber.

Sadly, the case of the African Grey is not isolated with 149 other species finding themselves near threatened or worse since the extinction of 19 species of parrot since 1600. In 1989 the World Parrot Trust was set up at Paradise Park in Cornwall with the objective of highlighting the plight of the bird and ensuring the survival of all bird breeds across the world. Since 1989, the trust has raised over £2.5million and has set up conservation projects in over twenty countries for more than forty species of parrot.

Parrots and their habitats

Some Parrots are even able to live outside their natural habitat after escaping from their enclosures or cages. In North America, flocks of feral parrots are often found living in populated cities around California, Texas and Florida. A documentary was made in 2005 named The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, chronicling the relationship between an unemployed musician and a flock of feral parrots. The film went on to win many awards including the 2005 Satellite Award for Outstanding Documentary.

As a pet

When buying parrots for the use of pets, it is important to make sure that the birds have been bred in captivity and have not been taken from the wild. Buying from trusted pet shops and online stores is recommended, as you can buy with the clarity that the bird has been treated well and is in the country legally. Once you've got your special friend, don't forget to feed him or her with


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