Parrots: The Animal Answer Guide

Parrots: The Animal Answer Guide

by Matt Cameron


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Have you ever wondered what parrots eat in the wild? Or why so many species live in the Amazon? How intelligent are parrots? What is the world’s rarest parrot? Parrots: The Animal Answer Guide provides detailed, factual answers to the ninety questions most on our minds.

There are more than 350 species of these colorful callers, ranging in size from the diminutive lovebird to the massive macaw. Many species can live to be octogenarians in captivity—sometimes outliving their human caretakers by decades.

The beautiful plumage of parrots and the ability to mimic sounds are both a blessing and a curse. A number of species are in danger of extinction because they are captured and sold into the pet trade by unscrupulous dealers. Fortunately, most parrot owners and retailers rely on captive breeding, although an appalling amount of wild collection continues.

In addition to discussing parrot behavior and biology, Matt Cameron reveals the truth about the trade in wild parrots and explains what each of us can do to help save native populations. Whether you are a parrot owner, birder, ornithologist, or curious naturalist, you will find that Cameron asks and fully answers every question you have about these incredible birds.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421405445
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 09/01/2012
Series: The Animal Answer Guides: Q&A for the Curious Naturalist
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Matt Cameron is an independent scholar and the author of Cockatoos.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xv

1 Introducing Parrots 1

What are parrots? 1

Are cockatoos also parrots? 3

How many kinds of parrot are there? 4

Where do parrots live? 5

What is the current classification of parrots? 12

When did parrots evolve? 13

What is the oldest fossil parrot? 15

2 Form and Function 17

What are the largest and smallest living parrots? 17

What does a parrot's bill tell us about its diet? 20

Do all parrots have the same type of bill? 21

How fast can parrots fly? 23

Are there any flightless parrots? 24

Do a parrot's feathers wear out? 25

Are there any bald parrots? 26

3 Parrot Colors 29

Why are so many parrots green? 29

What causes the colors of parrots? 30

Do parrots see the same colors as humans? 33

What are the benefits of UV vision? 34

Do glowing parrots really exist? 35

Is there a reason for the color patterns of parrots? 35

Are there color differences between males and females? 38

Do a parrot's colors change as they age? 41

Is there much geographic variation in the color of a parrot species? 42

4 Parrot Behavior 46

Are parrots social? 46

Why do parrots form flocks? 50

How do parrots spend their day? 53

How do parrots communicate? 57

How smart are parrots? 64

Can parrots talk? 70

Do parrots play? 73

Do parrots fight? 75

How do parrots avoid predators? 77

5 Parrot Ecology 82

Do parrots migrate? 82

Which geographic regions have the most species of parrot? 87

How many parrot species live in an area? 89

How many parrots live in the Australian desert? 92

How do parrots survive in the desert? 93

Are there parrots in alpine areas? 94

How do parrots survive droughts? 96

Do parrots get sick? 99

Are any parrot species nocturnal? 102

Are parrots good for the environment? 104

Is it true that some moths depend on parrots? 108

6 Reproduction and Development 110

Where do parrots nest? 110

Do parrots nest at the same time every year? 115

Do parrots use the same nest every year? 118

How do parrots reproduce? 120

How many eggs do parrots lay? 121

Are nestlings in a brood all the same age? 125

What proportion of eggs hatch? 127

How fast do parrots grow? 128

Do both parents care for their young? 131

How long do young birds stay with their parents? 132

Do parrots pair for life? 134

Do any parrots have unusual breeding systems? 135

How long do parrots live? 137

7 Foods and Feeding 139

What do parrots eat? 139

Are there any predatory parrots? 143

How much food does a parrot need? 143

Are parrots fussy eaters? 144

How do parrots find food? 146

Why do some parrots eat soil? 147

8 Parrots and Humans 150

Do parrots make good pets? 150

What is the best way to take care of a pet parrot? 152

What should I do if I find an injured or orphaned parrot? 153

How can I see parrots in the wild? 153

Should people feed wild parrots? 155

9 Parrot Problems (from a human viewpoint) 159

Are some parrots agricultural pests? 159

Can parrots be a nuisance in urban areas? 163

Are parrots ever invasive species? 163

Do parrots have diseases and are they contagious? 166

10 Human Problems (from a parrot's viewpoint) 169

Are any parrots endangered? 169

Have any parrot species gone extinct? 173

What is the world's rarest parrot? 176

Will parrots be affected by global warming? 177

Why do people hunt parrots? 178

What impact does the wildlife trade have on parrot populations? 179

Can captive breeding benefit wild populations of parrots? 182

11 Parrots in Stories and Literature 184

What roles do parrots play in religion and mythology? 184

Did any early explorers or naturalists mention parrots in their writings? 186

What roles do parrots play in popular culture? 190

What roles have parrots played in literature? 191

How long have humans kept and bred parrots? 194

12 "Parrotology" 196

Why study parrots? 196

Who studies parrots? 198

Which species are best known? 199

Which species are least known? 201

How do scientists recognize individual parrots? 202

What is being done to save endangered parrot species? 203

What can people do to help parrots? 205

Appendix: Common and Scientific Names of Living Parrots 209

Selected Bibliography 219

Index 231

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