Temporal range: EoceneHolocene 50–0 Ma
KakapoAustralian ringneckBlue-and-yellow macawKeaLesser vasa parrotPalm cockatooParrot montage.jpg
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Scientific classification edit
Wagler, 1830

Cacatuoidea (cockatoos)
Psittacoidea (true parrots)
Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots)

Parrot range.png
Range of parrots, all species (red)

Parrots, also known as psittacines z/,[1][2] are birds of the roughly 393 species in 92 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea ("true" parrots), the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and the Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots). Parrots have a generally pantropical distribution with several species inhabiting temperate regions in the Southern Hemisphere, as well. The greatest diversity of parrots is in South America and Australasia.

Characteristic features of parrots include a strong, curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet. Many parrots are vividly coloured, and some are multi-coloured. Most parrots exhibit little or no sexual dimorphism in the visual spectrum. They form the most variably sized bird order in terms of length.The most important components of most parrots' diets are 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 hatch altricial (helpless) young.

Parrots, along with ravens, crows, jays, and magpies, are among the most intelligent birds, and the ability of some species to imitate human voices enhances their popularity as pets. Trapping wild parrots for the pet trade, as well as hunting, habitat loss, and competition from invasive species, has diminished wild populations, with parrots being subjected to more exploitation than any other group of birds. Measures taken to conserve the habitats of some high-profile charismatic species have also protected many of the less charismatic species living in the same ecosystems.


Origins and evolution

Fossil dentary specimen UCMP 143274 restored as a parrot (left) or an oviraptorosaur

Psittaciform diversity in South America and Australasia suggests that the order may have evolved in Gondwana, centred in Australasia.[3] The scarcity of parrots in the fossil record, however, presents difficulties in confirming the hypothesis, and there is currently a higher amount of fossil remains from the northern hemisphere in the early Cenozoic.[4] Molecular studies suggest that parrots evolved approximately 59 million years ago (Mya) (range 66–51 Mya) in Gondwana. The three major clades of Neotropical parrots originated about 50 Mya (range 57–41 Mya).[5]

A single 15 mm (0.6 in) fragment from a large lower bill (UCMP 143274), found in deposits from the Lance Creek Formation in Niobrara County, Wyoming, had been thought to be the oldest parrot fossil and is presumed to have originated from the Late Cretaceous period, which makes it about 70 million years old.[6] However, other studies suggest that this fossil is not from a bird, but from a caenagnathid oviraptorosaur (a non-avian dinosaur with a birdlike beak), as several details of the fossil used to support its identity as a parrot are not actually exclusive to parrots, and it is dissimilar to the earliest-known unequivocal parrot fossils.[7][8] Likewise, the earliest parrots did not have the specialised crushing bills of modern species.[4][9]

It is now generally assumed that the Psittaciformes, or their common ancestors with several related bird orders, were present somewhere in the world around the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event (K-Pg extinction), some 66 Mya. If so, they probably had not evolved their morphological autapomorphies yet, but were generalised arboreal birds. The combined evidence supported the hypothesis of Psittaciformes being "near passerines", i. e., the mostly terrestrial birds that emerged in close proximity to the K-Pg extinction. Analysis of transposable element insertions observed in the genomes of passerines and parrots, but not in the genomes of other birds, provides strong evidence that parrots are the sister group of passerines, forming a clade Psittacopasserae, to the exclusion of the next closest group, the falcons.[10]

Europe is the origin of the first undeniable parrot fossils, which date from about 50 Mya. The climate there and then was tropical, consistent with the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. Initially, a neoavian named Mopsitta tanta, uncovered in Denmark's Early Eocene Fur Formation and dated to 54 Mya, was assigned to the Psittaciformes; it was described from a single humerus. However, the rather nondescript bone is not unequivocally psittaciform, and more recently it was pointed out that it may rather belong to a newly discovered ibis of the genus Rhynchaeites, whose fossil legs were found in the same deposits.[11]

Fossil skull of a presumed parrot relative from the Eocene Green River Formation in Wyoming

Fossils assignable to Psittaciformes (though not yet the present-day parrots) date from slightly later in the Eocene, starting around 50 Mya. Several fairly complete skeletons of parrot-like birds have been found in England and Germany.[12] Some uncertainty remains, but on the whole it seems more likely that these are not direct ancestors of the modern parrots, but related lineages that evolved in the Northern Hemisphere and have since died out. These are probably not "missing links" between ancestral and modern parrots, but rather psittaciform lineages that evolved parallel to true parrots and cockatoos and had their own peculiar autapomorphies:[13]

The earliest records of modern parrots date to about 23–20 Mya.[15] The fossil record—mainly from Europe—consists of bones clearly recognisable as belonging to parrots of modern type.[16] The Southern Hemisphere does not have nearly as rich a fossil record for the period of interest as the Northern, and contains no known parrot-like remains earlier than the early to middle Miocene, around 20 Mya. At this point, however, is found the first unambiguous parrot fossil (as opposed to a parrot-like one), an upper jaw that is indistinguishable from that of modern cockatoos.[15]



Psittacoidea Rose-ringed Parakeet (Male) I IMG 9141.jpg


Cacatuoidea Cacatua galerita -perching on branch -crest-8a-2c.jpg


Strigopoidea Kaka (Nestor meridionalis)- Wellington -NZ-8-2c.jpg


Other birds

Phylogenetic relationship between the three parrot superfamilies[3][17][18]

The Psittaciformes comprise three main lineages: Strigopoidea, Psittacoidea and Cacatuoidea.[19] The Strigopoidea were considered part of the Psittacoidea, but recent studies place this group of New Zealand species at the base of the parrot tree next to the remaining members of the Psittacoidea, as well as all members of the Cacatuoidea.[3][17][18] The Cacatuoidea are quite distinct, having a movable head crest, a different arrangement of the carotid arteries, a gall bladder, differences in the skull bones, and lack the Dyck texture feathers that—in the Psittacidae—scatter light to produce the vibrant colours of so many parrots. Colourful feathers with high levels of psittacofulvin resist the feather-degrading bacterium Bacillus licheniformis better than white ones.[20] Lorikeets were previously regarded as a third family, Loriidae,[21]:45 but are now considered a tribe (Loriini) within the subfamily Lorinae, family Psittaculidae. The two other tribes in the subfamily are the closely related fig parrots (two genera in the tribe Cyclopsittini) and budgerigar (tribe Melopsittacini).[3][17][18]







Neotropical parrots









Broad-tailed parrots

Fig parrots


Lories and Lorikeets


Hanging parrots



Phylogenetic relations between parrots[3]


The order Psittaciformes consists of roughly 393 species belonging to 92 genera.[22] The following classification is based on the most recent proposal as of 2012.[3][17][19][23][24][25][26]

Skeleton of a parrot

Superfamily Strigopoidea: New Zealand parrots

Superfamily Cacatuoidea: cockatoos

Superfamily Psittacoidea: true parrots

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Papegaaie
Alemannisch: Papagei
አማርኛ: ብቅበቃ
Ænglisc: Bleohfugol
العربية: ببغاء
asturianu: Psittaciformes
Avañe'ẽ: Gua'a
azərbaycanca: Tutuquşukimilər
বাংলা: টিয়া
Bân-lâm-gú: Eng-ko
беларуская: Папугаепадобныя
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Папугаепадобныя
भोजपुरी: सुग्गा
Bislama: Barod
български: Папагалоподобни
bosanski: Papiga
brezhoneg: Psittaciformes
буряад: Тоти
català: Psitaciformes
čeština: Papoušci
Cymraeg: Parot
dansk: Papegøje
Deutsch: Papageien
Diné bizaad: Tsídii yáłtiʼí
डोटेली: सुवा
Ελληνικά: Παπαγάλος
español: Psittaciformes
Esperanto: Papagoformaj
eʋegbe: Ako
فارسی: طوطی
føroyskt: Papageykar
français: Psittaciformes
Gaeilge: Pearóid
Gàidhlig: Piorraid
한국어: 앵무새
हिन्दी: तोता
hrvatski: Papigašice
Bahasa Indonesia: Bayan (burung)
interlingua: Psittaciformes
íslenska: Páfagaukar
italiano: Psittaciformes
עברית: תוכאים
Basa Jawa: Bèthèt
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಗಿಳಿ
Kiswahili: Kasuku
Kreyòl ayisyen: Jako
kurdî: Tûtî
Кыргызча: Тотулар
кырык мары: Попугай
latviešu: Papagaiļi
Lëtzebuergesch: Papageien
Ligure: Pappagaggio
Limburgs: Pappegejje
Lingua Franca Nova: Psitasiformo
lumbaart: Psittaciformes
македонски: Папагаловидни
Bahasa Melayu: Psittaciformes
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Ĕng-gŏ̤
мокшень: Попугай
монгол: Тоть
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ကြက်တူရွေး
Nederlands: Papegaaiachtigen
नेपाली: सुगा
日本語: オウム目
Nordfriisk: Papagein
norsk nynorsk: Papegøyefuglar
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଶୁଆ
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Toʻtilar
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਤੋਤਾ
پنجابی: طوطا
پښتو: توتي
Patois: Paarat
Перем Коми: Попугай
Plattdüütsch: Papagoyen
polski: Papugowe
português: Psittaciformes
română: Psittaciformes
ᱥᱟᱱᱛᱟᱲᱤ: ᱢᱤᱨᱩ
संस्कृतम्: शुकः
Scots: Paurit
shqip: Papagalli
Simple English: Parrot
سنڌي: طوطو
slovenčina: Papagájotvaré
slovenščina: Papige
српски / srpski: Папагаји
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Papigašice
Tagalog: Pikoy
தமிழ்: கிளி
తెలుగు: చిలుక
Türkçe: Papağan
удмурт: Попугай
українська: Папугоподібні
اردو: طوطا
Vahcuengh: Roegyengj
Tiếng Việt: Bộ Vẹt
West-Vlams: Poapegoais
Winaray: Pikóy
ייִדיש: פאפוגיי
Yorùbá: Odídẹrẹ́
粵語: 鸚鵡
Zazaki: Papağan
中文: 鹦形目