True parrots are colorful birds with a large, downwardly curving beak (ideal for cracking open seeds and tearing apart the flesh of fruits (seeds and fruit form the primary food source for most parrots). They are considered to be among the smartest of all bird groups (they have a large cranium). True parrots are skilled flighers but are also adept at climbing using their strong claws and broad, hooked bills.
Many true parrots are endangered as a result of habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, hunting and capture for the pet trade. Of all these threats, capture for the pet trade is among the most damaging. Many birds that are captured are young and suffer great stress during capture and transport. As a result, many birds do not survive and more birds are captured to make up for the mortality they suffer in transport.
True parrots are primarily birds of the Southern Hemisphere. They are found in South and Central America (one species, the Carolina parakeet, used to occur in North America but is now extinct). They also inhabit, Asia, Australia and numerous islands of the Pacific. True parrots live in a variety of habitat types including rainforests, dry forests, deserts and scrublands. True parrots are primarily tropical birds, though some species do live in more temperate regions.
True parrots are divided into two subgroups, the typical parrots (Psittacinae) and the lories and lorikeets (Loriinae).
The typical parrots include the African grey parrot, Neotropical parrots (such as the burrowing parrot, thick-billed parrots, Carolina parakeets and macaws) and numerous species of Amazon parrots. The African grey parrot is a medium-sized parrot that inhabits rainforests in central Africa. African grey parrots are renowned for their inteligence and longevity. They are gentle birds and are consequently popular in the pet trade. Since the African grey parrot is listed under CITES, capture of wild birds is illegal.
The lories and lorikeets include the Pesquet's parrot, ground parrots and their allies, broad tailed parrots, the lories and lorikeets, the budgerigar, fig parrots, Asian parrots and pygmy parrots. The budgerigar, known commonly as the pet parakeet or budgie, is a small parrot. Budgerigars are native to Austrailia where they inhabit dry habitats. Wild budgerigars have a mostly green body, yellow and black back, yellow face, and black markings on their neck, wings and tail. Budgerigars that have been bred in captivity take on a variety of colors (blue, white, yellow, grey) and some also have crests.
Lories and lorikeets are small or medium-sized parrots that feed on nector and fruits. They have a brush-like tip to their tong that is specialized for their diet, enabling them to eat nectar and pollen. Lorikeets are agile in flight and have strong feet and legs. Their coloration is showy, with plumage that consists of bright reds, greens blues and yellows. A number of lorikeets are endangered, the blue lorikeet is classified as vulnerable and the ultramarine lorikeet is classified as endangered (it is among the rarest birds in the world).