Psittacidae - Parrots

This is a large family of some 350 species, most of whom are found in the tropics. Well known for their bright colours, they make popular pets - these inevitably escape and consequently some species have become established outside their native ranges. Parrots vary greatly in size, from the finch sized pygmy-parrots to the Kakapo of New Zealand, which weighs around 3kg (equivalent to a good-sized goose). All have strong beaks, which are capable of cracking open the toughest of seeds and nuts, which they can manipulate with dextrous feet. This is facilitated by the arrangement of their toes - two point forwards, and two back (a condition called zygodactyly, which they share with the cuckoos and woodpeckers), which also provides an extremely powerful grasp. Highly vocal, they are generally monogamous and most usually pair for life.

Only one species, the Ring-necked Parakeet, is at all established in Britain (it can be found throughout the Thames Basin), but a few other species have bred, and almost any species could be encountered flying around confused having flown its cage.

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