May 31st is Parrot Day! These smart, colorful birds can make both fun and fascinating pets, and they definitely deserve to be celebrated. A Greater Cincinnati vet lists some fascinating facts about Polly below.
Parrots have longer lifespans than the vast majority of animals. Some can live over 100 years! Macaws and Amazons are particularly long-lived, but even smaller parrots often live several decades.
Speaking of longevity, here’s a jaw-dropper: A blue and gold Macaw named Charlie is still alive at 114-ish years old. The bird is something of a local celebrity at Heathfield Nurseries. Charlie was rumored to have belonged to Winston Churchill, who also supposedly taught her swear words, so she could curse Nazi’s. True or no, Charlie now only speaks a few friendly greeting phrases.
We all know that parrots can talk, right? Polly is actually the only animal that can mimic human speech. One standout bird here is Puck, a budgie who made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest vocabulary. The adorable little bird learned 1728 words, and made the news several times!
Parrots vary widely in many things: coloring, speech capabilities, longevity, and volume. They also run the gamut as far as weight. The smallest is the teeny-tiny Pygmy parrot, which is only 3 inches long. Another interesting thing about the Pygmy: they’re the only parrot that eats mushrooms, instead of insects.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Kakapo, a large flightless bird that can weigh over 7 pounds. (Note: Kakapos are gravely endangered, with very few left alive. However, conservation efforts are underway.)
Parrots are also extremely smart. One, an African grey named Alex, reportedly had an IQ equal to that of a 5-year-old child! Researchers have also observed parrots using dates and rocks to smash cockleshells.
Polly is an omnivore, who will eat just about anything. However, some parrots have gone a bit beyond insects as far as eating meat. New Zealand parrots are known for killing sheep, a behavior that was first documented in 1868.
Parrots really do need some good PR: nearly a third of all parrot species face extinction. Consider supporting a parrot rescue in honor of Polly’s special day!
Do you have questions about parrot care? Contact us, your Greater Cincinnati pet hospital, anytime!