Wild parrots are prolific and easy breeders and are usually sexually mature at about two years of age. The number of eggs birds lay each cycle is called a 'clutch'. The average clutch size is four to eight eggs, and a second clutch is usually started when the first hatchlings (baby birds) are about four weeks old. Mortality rate amongst their young is generally 50% or more. Thus, only one or two babies are expected to reach full maturation with each breeding cycle.
Parrots travel in flocks. They communicate by shrieking, squawking, or twittering. One of the most unusual parrots is the nearly extinct and largely nocturnal kakapo, or owl parrot, of New Zealand. Mostly flightless, it climbs trees for food, then glides down to the ground for a distance of up to 270 feet (80 m). It creates narrow forest trails by biting off roots and foliage as it walks along.
Barring accident, disease or mass destruction by man, wild parrots can be expected to live around 20-30 years.
The parrot can grow between 8cm and 1m, depending on the parrot species. The parrot is believed to be one of the most intelligent of all the bird species, mainly in the sense that parrots are able to replicate (mimic) the noises made around them. Some parrots are able to mimic modern sounds and human voices to almost perfection. One African grey parrot was found to have a vocabulary of more than 800 words!
Though there is great diversity among these birds, there are similarities as well. All parrots have curved beaks and all are zygodactyls, meaning they have four toes on each foot, two pointing forward and two projecting backward. Most parrots eat fruit, flowers, buds, nuts, seeds, and some small creatures such as insects.
Parrot fossils that have been found in Europe show that the modern parrots ancestors go as far back as the Eocene period and are 50 million years old. Fossils that relate more closely to todays parrots in terms of bone structure and appearance are about 23 million years old.
A parrot can be described as a bird with a strong curved beak, erect carriage, strong legs and clawed zygodactyl feet. Most of its species are green in color, with a few being multi-colored. Parrots are counted amongst the most intelligent birds and are very popular as pets.
The order of the Psittaciformes, which embraces all kinds of parrots, has three different families. the biggest one is the Psittacidae, which englobes all the “true parrots”; the Cacatuidae, which is the family of the cockatoos; the Strigopidae, the smallest of the three, only has a handful of species native to New Zealand.
More than 300 species of parrots are identified by their physical and behavioral similarities as well as by common native habitats. Generally, a smaller species is expected to present less-invasive habits, but this is not always so, as even small parrots may possess surprisingly "big" voices.
Parrots are very well represented in the Pacific Distribution and show marked endemism centered on Australia, the predominant land mass, New Guinea, New Zealand, and neighboring islands. In the Afro-Asian Distribution, which extends from Africa and Madagascar east to Indochina, the Malay Peninsula, and the Greater Sunda Islands, parrots are poorly represented and divergence above specific level is slight.