Early Eocene  – Recent
|A Blue-and-yellow Macaw flying|
|Range of Parrots, all species (red)|
The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea ('true' parrots), the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos) and the Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots). The greatest diversity of parrots is found in South America and Australasia.
Characteristic features of parrots include a strong, curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet. Many parrots are vividly coloured, and some are multi-coloured. The plumage of cockatoos ranges from mostly white to mostly black, with a mobile crest of feathers on the tops of their heads. Most parrots exhibit little or no sexual dimorphism. They form the most variably sized bird order in terms of length.
The most important components of most parrots' diets are seeds, nuts, fruit, buds and other plant material. A few species sometimes eat animals and carrion, while the lories and lorikeets are specialised for feeding on floral nectar and soft fruits. Almost all parrots nest in tree hollows (or nest boxes in captivity), and lay white eggs from which hatch altricial (helpless) young.
Parrots are among the most intelligent birds, and the ability of some species to imitate human voices enhances their popularity as pets. Trapping wild parrots for the pet trade, as well as hunting, habitat loss and competition from invasive species, has diminished wild populations, with parrots being subjected to more exploitation than any other group of birds. Measures taken to conserve the habitats of some high-profile species have also protected many of the less charismatic species living in the same ecosystems.
Origins and evolution [change]
Europe is the origin of the first presumed parrot fossils, which date from about 50 million years ago (mya). The climate there and then was tropical. Several fairly complete skeletons of parrot-like birds have been found in England and Germany. On the whole it seems likely that these are not direct ancestors of the modern parrots, but related lineages which evolved in the northern hemisphere, and which have since died out.
The earliest records of modern parrots date to about 23–20 mya and are also from Europe. Subsequently, the fossil record—again mainly from Europe—consists of bones clearly recognisable as belonging to parrots of modern type. The southern hemisphere does not have nearly as rich a fossil record for this period as the northern, and contains no known parrot-like remains earlier than the early to middle Miocene, around 20 mya. At this point, however, is found the first unambiguous parrot fossil (as opposed to a parrot-like one), an upper jaw which is indistinguishable from that of modern cockatoos.
Related pages [change]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Psittaciformes|
|Wikispecies has information on: Psittaciformes.|
- Waterhouse, David M. (2006). "Parrots in a nutshell: The fossil record of Psittaciformes (Aves)". Historical Biology 18 (2): 223–234. doi:10.1080/08912960600641224.
- "Psittacine". American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th ed,. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2000. Archived from the original on 2007-08-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070827104100/http://www.bartleby.com/61/21/P0632100.html. Retrieved 2007-09-09.
- "Psittacine". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. http://www.merriam-webster.com/. Retrieved 2007-09-09.
- "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Psittaciformes (Version 9.013)". www.zoonomen.net. 2008-12-29. http://www.zoonomen.net/avtax/psit.html.
- Joseph, Leo et al 2012. A revised nomenclature and classification for family-group taxa of parrots (Psittaciformes). Zootaxa 3205: 26–40
- Two toes face forward and two toes face back.
- as are the crow family: ravens, crows, jays and magpies
- Snyder, N; McGowan, P; Gilardi, J; & A Grajal (2000), Parrots: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, 2000-2004. Chapter 1. vii. IUCN ISBN 2-8317-0504-5. Chapter 1. vii.
- Snyder, N; McGowan, P; Gilardi, J; & A Grajal (2000), Parrots: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, 2000-2004. Chapter 1. vii. IUCN ISBN 2-8317-0504-5. Chapter 2. page 12.
- Suh A, Paus M, Kiefmann M, et al (2011). "Mesozoic retroposons reveal parrots as the closest living relatives of passerine birds". Nature Communications 2 (8): 443–8. doi:10.1038/ncomms1448. PMC 3265382. PMID 21863010. http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v2/n8/full/ncomms1448.html.
- Dyke GJ, Cooper JH (2000). "A new psittaciform bird from the London clay (Lower Eocene) of England". Palaeontology 43 (2): 271–285. doi:10.1111/1475-4983.00126.