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A parrot is any of several hundred species in the bird family "Psittacidae." There are approximately 328 different species in this bird's family, including cockatoos, lovebirds, macaws, parakeets and lories.

Parrots can be found in almost every color of the spectrum. The predominant body color is green, but there are quite a few exceptions. Many domesticated birds are predominately blue, red and green, though any mixture of color is possible.

All parrots have zygodactylus feet, meaning they possess two toes that point forward and two that point backward. This makes the parrot one of the most agile birds in the world. Parrots walk with what seems to be a slight hobble, due to the position of their toes.

The majority of birds in the parrot family also carry large, hooked beaks. Thanks in part to their hooked bills, parrots are able to chisel open nuts and berries effortlessly. The conveniently shaped bill is also used as a third foot by most species, to aid in maneuvering.

Parrots have unusually large heads, short necks, stocky bodies, rounded tails and strong feet. They range in size from 3 1/2- inches to more than 40-inches. Likewise, weight of the parrot varies, as well, from a few ounces to more than 3 pounds. The parrot's most notorious quality is their ability to mimic speech patterns.

Parrots have a keen sense of hearing and sight. Domesticated parrots familiarize themselves with movement and voice patterns and are able to mimic human behavior and words almost perfectly. The Amazon parrot is famous for not only mimicking voices, but dog barks, cat meows and other household noises. The African Gray parrot, another popular U.S. pet, is unsurpassed it its ability to communicate, developing an extensive vocabulary.

Most parrots are forest dwellers. They exist in tropical areas through out the world, where they live on a diet of fruit, seeds, buds, nectar and pollen. If need be, parrots can also survive by ingesting insects or meat.

Parrots are hole-nesters by nature, making their homes in holes in trees, rock cavities, ground tunnels and even termite mounds.

The smaller species of parrots reach sexual maturity between the ages of 1-2 and larger species are mature at age 3-4.

Parrots are considered noisy animals, calling loudly during travel, play, breeding periods and rest.

Parrots have long been a popular pet around the world. Parakeets, the Amazon parrot and the African Gray parrot are favored breeds, because of their ability to mimic human behavior and vocabulary. Domesticated parrots are fun, active family pets that can be trained to live both in and out of a cage. They are fed a variety of seeds, fruits and nuts and tend to exist peacefully under the same roof with a large variety of people. Because many species of parrots live to be at least 75-years old, parrots generally outlive their owners.

The high demand of pet parrot industry has resulted in many species of parrots to become extinct or endangered. Today, the Lear's macaw and the Golden Conure parrots are listed as endangered or threatened, and all but three species are government protected.

Smaller species of the parrot live 10-15 years and larger macaws and cockatoos have an average lifespan of more than 75 years.