Fun Facts About Parrots: They Can Sing, Use Tools and Live a Long, Long Time

Some parrots utilize tools. Alex, the famed African grey parrot, was believed to be smart as a 5-year-old. After a deep relationship with owner Irene Pepperberg, he said, “You be good. I love you.” The psittacine tribe has practical intelligence, too.

Parrots have climbing toes. Like other birds, parrots have four sharp-clawed toes per foot. Zygodactylous parrot toes point forward and backward for optimal grip, unlike the conventional three-in-front-one-behind pattern.

Polly also wants mutton. Omnivorous parrots abound. They eat predominantly plants—fruit, seeds, nuts—but also insects and meat. Rainbow-colored lories and lorikeets in the South Pacific use paintbrush-shaped tongues to eat nearly exclusively on nectar.

Not all parrots are tropical. Most of the 350 parrot species dwell in tropical and subtropical Australia, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. However, some parrots deviate.

A third of parrot species are endangered. Due to habitat destruction and pet trade poaching, more parrot species are being added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The African grey parrot population in Ghana is 99 percent gone due to logging.

Parrot males and females appear alike, unlike other birds. Most parrot men and females appear same. A keen eye and lab test are needed to identify males from females.

Parrots taste. Parrots have 350 taste buds at most, compared to 10,000 for humans. Parrots have buds on their tongues and backs of their throats. The birds' simple palates help them avoid dangerous foods by tasting bitterness and sweetness.