PARROTS FACTS & FIGURES

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1 PARROTS AVES HABITAT MACAWS COCKATOO AFRICAN GREY ORDER Psittaciformes Psittaciformes Psittaciformes FAMILY Psittacidae Psittacidae Psittacidae GENUS & SPECIES Ara Cacatua Psittacus WOODLAND/ LOWLAND DIET FRUGIVORE STATUS 2 ENDANGERED FACTS & FIGURES MACAWS COCKATOO AFRICAN GREY Size cm cm cm Weight g g g Incubation period days days days Life span years years years Habitat Rainforest Woodland Lowland

2 DESCRIPTION Most parrots are brightly coloured and live in flocks with some showing the ability to copy and mimic different sounds. Beautiful, charismatic and intelligent are just a few words to describe these wonderful members of the class Aves (birds). There are over 350 species of parrot in the world. They range in size from the tiny Pigmy parrots roughly 8 cm in length to the huge Hyacinth macaw which is over 100 cm head to tail! At Longleat we have 3 main types of parrot: the loud and colourful macaws, the cockatoos, and the little African greys. Two obvious features help distinguish most parrots from all other birds. One is the arrangement of their toes - 2 point forward and 2 point backwards. The other is their hook shaped beak with the top being bigger than the bottom. DIET The diet of most parrots consists of seeds, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and berries. Some eat nectar and pollen and to a lesser degree animal prey including insects. The wild diet varies greatly depending on where they come from and what food is available. The macaw diet is made up primarily from the orange flesh of palm fruit, but will also include various fruits and berries. African greys feed primarily on nuts and fruits, supplemented by leafy matter. The cockatoo diet consists mainly of seeds, nuts and fruit. At Longleat we give our birds as much variety as we can in relation to their wild diet. This will consist mainly of fruit and nuts, but also vegetables, seeds, and pulses (beans). POINTS OF INTEREST Parrot feet have an unusually strong grip. Each foot has four long toes. Two of the toes point forward and two point backward. This arrangement makes it easy for parrots to grab slippery seeds, nuts, or fruits and helps them become experts at climbing; parrots can grab a branch so tightly that they can hang upside down if they want to. They can even stand on one foot while they eat with the other! Parrots sleep upright! Due to the strength and arrangement of their toes, parrots can lock their feet so they can nap without falling off of their perch! The parrot tongue is also very special. Generally fleshy and highly mobile it takes a very active role in manipulating the food. This is a distinction from most other birds. Bright colours work well as signals to other birds but movable crests are even better! Cockatoos can tell a great deal about other cockatoos moods, by the angle and speed that it raises its crest.

3 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WHY DON T THEY FLY AWAY? They do sometimes! When we first get a parrot we spend lots of time getting to know them, building up their confidence and gaining their trust. We initially clip their flight feathers as a precaution while they get used to us and their new surroundings but can then leave them to grow back and through time and training they learn where home is and tend to stay. DO THEY TALK? No, parrots cannot talk, but they are excellent mimics. All parrots have advanced vocal boxes, and all parrots can copy, but at a basic level they don t understand what they are saying, they are just copying. In the wild mimicry is used for social reasons as parrots are social creatures and they will copy each others movements and sounds as a way of showing off and interacting with each other. When kept as pets parrots copy us as we are their social companions. WHERE DO THEY GO AT NIGHT? Our parrots don t stay out all night; they go into a parrot house. They are creatures of routine and habit and they need security, as in the wild they get used to a safe routine. HOW OLD ARE THEY? HOW LONG DO THEY LIVE? All of our parrots ages vary, some are in there teens and some are over twenty years old. Parrots are very long lived animals with even the smaller ones such as budgies living to 20 years, macaws and cockatoos can possibly live to 70 and beyond. WERE THEY BORN HERE? No, most of our parrots are unwanted pets. A lot of people take parrots on and don t realise how much is involved with keeping them. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO TRAIN THEM? It depends on the parrot. Like us they learn differently and everything has to be done at their pace, some parrots take days to learn a particular stunt while some others can take weeks. Our key tips for training are: Patience, Reward, Patience, Planning, Patience, Persistence, and of course more Patience. HOW MUCH DO THEY COST? We don t sell our parrots. The time, patience and bond formed with our birds makes them priceless! Rather like members of our own family. Occasionally we move birds to other collections for breeding purposes, but we don t always recommend them as pets. However if you were to decide to buy a parrot, the cost will depend on many factors, do not forget long term costs such as food, vet bills, and repair costs! Damage will occur both to their home and yours. CAN I STROKE ONE? Most parrots don t like being stroked, because they spend so much time getting their feathers just how they want them, its like us combing our hair for half an hour and somebody messing it up. ARE THEY ALWAYS NOISY? Yes! Parrots are naturally very noisy animals, even the smallest one being able to create a loud noise. In the wild parrots need to call to their companions over great distances, also when in a large flock they have to shout loud to be heard over all the others!

4 SHOULD I BUY A PARROT? HAVE YOU GOT THE TIME? Parrots are very social creatures that need a lot of time and attention. Scientists believe that a parrot has a similar intelligence to that of a four year old child. They require interaction and company, if you or your family are out all day at work, school or away lots, a parrot left alone could get bored, lonely, and very unhappy. Have you got the time to commit to the equivalent of a four year old child for the next 30+ years? CAN YOU AFFORD IT? Depending on the species and where you get it from, the initial cost of a parrot can be quite high. However as with other pets, the cost is on-going and includes, enclosures, food, housing materials, toys, books, and vet bills, it has been estimated that it can cost as much as 50,000 to keep a parrot throughout its lifetime. DO YOU HAVE THE SPACE? Regardless of the size of the parrot, all parrots need space to stretch and move around. When kept in a cage, you need to consider at least enough space for them to open their wings, turn around, and sit upright with plenty of space above their head. Obviously the more time out of the cage the better and ideally in a spacious area especially set up for the parrot is the best situation. Most parrots love to climb and we offer our birds access to a large natural wood climbing frame daily or whenever the weather allows us to do so. HAVE YOU GOT THE COMMITMENT? A lot of people rush in to buying animals without thinking of the long term commitments, do you know what you are going to be doing in a year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years or even beyond that? Most large parrots such as macaws and cockatoos can live for at least 60 years, with some of the smaller ones, budgies and cockatiels making 20. Think carefully about the future, can you and your family provide the care and commitment needed to keep a parrot happy for a long, long time. DO YOU MIND NOISE? Parrots are notorious for the noise they can make. This is a very natural part of their life and something that should be accepted when thinking of getting a parrot. Larger parrots are usually louder than the smaller ones with some species reaching 120db. Sometimes the noise can be avoided and with time and correct training reduced, but there are times when they will just be noisy and all you can do is put on ear muffs and ignore it! DO YOUR NEIGHBOURS MIND NOISE? You may have decided that the noise of a squawky parrot is something you can live with, but have you considered your neighbours? Or even their neighbours! They may not appreciate being awoken by a loud screech first thing in the morning! Consider where you live and who is near your house ARE YOU HOUSE PROUD? If you decide to keep a parrot within your house at any time, be aware that they are naturally very destructive animals that can very quickly make a lot of mess! They love to chew things, in the wild they would chew a nice barky branch; it keeps their beaks trim and they enjoy doing it. In your house this could quite easily be a sofa, or an expensive piece of furniture. Consider where your parrot could live within your house, you may be able to build an aviary in your garden and connect it to an indoor area, or you may have a room you can set aside for the parrot.

5 WORLD DISTRIBUTION Parrots can be found in most tropical parts of the world. The Americas, Africa, South East Asia & Australasia are all good parrot hot spots. Macaws are found in Central and South America Panama down to Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. Military macaws used to have a larger range and could be found from Mexico down to Bolivia and Argentina, but are now scarce. African greys are found in central Africa Southeast Ivory Coast east to western Kenya and south to northern Angola, southern Congo and northwest Tanzania. Timneh African greys are found in Southern Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and westernmost Ivory Coast. Most cockatoos including the Sulphur Crested are from Australasia and the Moluccan cockatoos are from islands in Indonesia. CONSERVATION Nearly a third of all parrots are endangered and facing extinction. They have many threats including natural and introduced predators. They are captured for food and the pet trade but perhaps their biggest threat is the loss of their habitat through deforestation. Deforestation is destroying food sources for many species of parrot. Most parrots will forage over a wide area and with fewer available food trees, resources soon run out. Palm nuts are one of the main food sources for Macaws and one of the reasons for their decline is due to lack of this natural food. Replanting schemes have been implemented and can replace food in a relatively short space of time. The major problem for most large parrots is lack of trees to nest in. It would take many years for a tree to grow large enough and decay enough inside for a hollow to be created which would be large enough for a pair of macaws to nest in. Nest boxing projects are in place where large artificial nest boxes are raised high into the canopy and secured to trees that are not yet mature to provide nest sites on their own. Much deforestation is due to demand for wood and paper. We can make a difference by recycling our paper and cardboard, and by looking out for products that use recycled materials. Also when buying wood we can look out for wood that comes from sustainable forests and woodlands.

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