Budgie parakeets > Talking birds > Parrots at home

Parrots at home

The homes of the vast majority of parrots is unquestionably within the tropics, but the belief that they are tropical birds only, is a mistake. There are many species which inhabit semi-trop­ical countries and one, the Carolina parrot, was formerly quite common in the southern states of this country, even coming as far north as central and northern Illinois.

In England and throughout Europe the gray parrot is decidedly the most popular. The ma­jority of these birds corne from the Gold coast and adjacent islands, but they appear to be pretty generally distributed throughout the western cen­tral part of Africa.

Considering the abundance of parrots and their wide extent over the globe it is surprising how little is known of their habits in a wild state. One gentleman, however, in writing of his experience with the gray parrots in Africa, says : "From their own immediate domain the parrots drive away all other birds, both great and small, combining for that purpose if necessary. During the day, when flying about in flacks, they never settle on a tree unless satisfied that it is a safe resting place. They are very suspicious and always on the alert; they are more prudent and sharp than the native, quicker than the monkey, they require no tools to crack the hard nuts. They always travel in flocks and when returning homeward, approaching troops acquaint their fellows of their coming by loud whistling.

Their food consists of soft or unripe seeds, fruits, such as the palm nut, avocat, banana, guava, mango and many other fruits of a smaller kind, but they always give the preference to palm nuts. They make no nest, but deposit their eggs (two to four) on the bottom of the hole in some tree. Eggs resemble those of the wood pigeon. Both birds take turns sitting on the eggs, the one sit­ting being fed by the other, out of its crop. Young ones are fed in the same way. In time of danger the old birds defend their progeny vig­orously, and should the enemy prove too strong to be successfully resisted by one pair, others will come to their assistance, and either kill or put the aggressor to flight. Many nests are found within a few feet of each other. The young birds are covered with a long and fluffy dawn, which falls off when moulting; first plumage is dark, and iris is dark gray instead of pale yellow. They leave the nest when about four weeks old, but may be seen looking out of nest sometimes be­fore able to fly. They grow quickly and feathers get gradually paler. The first moulting begins when two months old and lasts about five weeks, after which their plumage is similar to that of old birds, although edges of feathers are not so pale and cheeks and forehead not so white as in old birds.

The Cuban parrots, which inhabit Cuba, Isle of Pines, and San Domingo, are very gregarious in their habits and when one of a flock has been shot they will hover around it, uttering shrill cries, regardless of the danger to which they are exposing themselves, so that the hunter is often able to kill large numbers of them before the survivors appear to become conscious of their peril.

In central Mexico the Red Head and Double Yellow Head parrots are very plentiful and the settlers wage incessant warfare against them, cause they visit the fields of grain in flocks of hundreds and would quickly destroy the crap. They live largely on fruit and grain.
The Kea of New Zealand is the only meat eating member of the parrot family. It has been known to perch on the back of a living ewe and tear off the flesh until the kidneys were exposed, which dainty morsel it devoured.

Most varieties of parrots live in forests and build their nests in holes in trees or similar places, although there are a number of them which live on the grassy plains.

Their natural voice is usually loud, harsh and, discordant, so that the noise produced by a large flock is almost ear splitting.

As parrots have very rarely been known to breed in captivity, it is necessary to obtain them from their native countries.