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Parrots and Nature

By Obiabin Onukwugha

Parrots (Psittaciformes), also known as psittacines (/ˈsɪtəsaɪnz/), are birds with a strong curved beak, upright stance, and clawed feet.

They are made up of four families that contain roughly 410 species in 101 genera. Parrots are found mostly in tropical and subtropical regions.

Parrots, along with ravens, crows, jays, and magpies, are among the most intelligent birds, and the ability of some species to imitate human speech enhances their popularity as pets.

They form the most variably sized bird order in terms of length; many are vividly coloured and some, multi-coloured. Most parrots exhibit little or no sexual dimorphism in the visual spectrum.

Parrots mostly feed on seeds, nuts, fruit, buds, and other plant material. A few species sometimes eat animals and carrion, while the lories and lorikeets are specialised for feeding on floral nectar and soft fruits.

Almost all parrots nest in tree hollows (or nest boxes in captivity), and lay white eggs from which they hatch altricial (helpless) young.

Reports say parrots are the only creatures that display true tripedalism, that is, using their necks and beaks as limbs with propulsive forces equal to or greater than those forces generated by the forelimbs of primates when climbing vertical surfaces.

One of the most endearing traits of parrots for many people, is their ability to talk or mimic noises.

Vocal ability varies among species, some are loud, others more quiet; some can learn to speak a human language, while others might only speak birds language.

When domesticated Parrots life span is between ten to fifty years depending on the environment and care. Parrots most times are also known to outlive their owners.

Researchers say parrots that live in the wild breed once a year and the time depends on where they live.

Researchers also say most parrots only have one clutch per year because the season changes and the weather and food sources are no longer right for raising chicks.

Parrots perform are said to perform direct and indirect ecological functions and have cascading effects on entire plant life cycles via seed predation, seed dispersal, pollination, protection or healing, and even waste food facilitation, and act as ecosystem engineers.

Parrots cost as much as N15,000 to N75,,000, depending on the specie and is among endangered species list in Nigeria. For Yoruba, a parrot is “Odídẹrẹ́”, in Hausa it is known as “Aku”, while the Igbos and majority of the Niger Delta call it “Okoko”

It is said that once upon a time, there was a woman who had a parrot in a cage, and it would tell tales about what it saw people do. So one day, it happened that the woman’s husband kept a large eel in a little pond in his garden, with the intention of feeding it to friends when they came to visit him.

However, when the husband was out the wife said to her maid: “Let us eat the large eel, and we will tell my husband that the otter ate it.”

When the husband came home the parrot told him how the wife had eaten the eel. He went to the pond, but could not find the eel. He then asked his wife what had become of the eel. The woman tried to make an excuse for herself, but he said, “Don’t make excuses, because I know that you have eaten it, because the parrot told me so.”

The man scolded his wife severely for eating the eel. After the husband left the wife and her maid went to the parrot and plucked out all the feathers on its head, saying it is the punishment for telling her husband about the eel. Thus the poor parrot had its head-feathers plucked out.

From that time forth whenever the parrot saw a bald man or a woman with a high forehead, it would say: “You must have told about the eel.”

Lesson: “It is not wise to speak at all times.”

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