Rainbow lorikeet, Australia and New Guinea, 30 cm (12 inches) long Parrots are brightly coloured, tropical birds with short, strong bills. The parrot family includes parrots, macaws, lories, lorikeets, parakeets, cockatoos and budgerigars. Parrots feed on fruits, nuts and seeds, picking them up with their nimble toes. They can crack even the hardest nuts in their powerful beaks. Parrots also use their beaks, along with their claws, to help them clamber among the treetops. Along with members of the crow family, parrots are the most intelligent of birds, often able to imitate human voices.
Macaws are long-tailed, colourful parrots from Central and South America. Including their tail feathers, macaws may measure up to one metre (more than 3 feet) in length. They make loud, low-pitched squawks as they fly. Macaws eat a wide variety of foods, including seeds, nuts, fruits, leaves and flowers. In the Amazon rainforest, hundreds of macaws and other parrots gather each day to lick the clay, which contains vital salts, on river banks. Macaws nest in holes high up in tree trunks. Some species, such as the hyacinth macaws, are endangered birds. Much prized as pets, many are captured for sale.
Many species of parrot are able to imitate human voices. Some, such as the African grey, are able to understand the meanings of words and even form simple sentences.
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