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; class Aves, order Psittaciformes)

A family of small to large, very colourful birds with characteristic deep bills, the upper mandible of which is large and decurved to form a hook, the lower mandible being upcurved and smaller. Lories (eight species of Lorius, found in New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands) have a brush-like tip to the tongue. Parrots have large heads, short necks, thick, prehensile tongues, and their nostrils are set in a fleshy cere at the base of the bill. Their toes are zygodactylous. They feed mainly on seeds and fruit, inhabit forest and more open country, and nest in holes in trees or in termite mounds. Ara macao (scarlet macaw) is widely kept in captivity, as are the conures of Central and S. America (18 species of Pyrrhura), which are mainly green with blue primaries and grey, blue, yellow, red, and white head markings. The Australian Melopsittacus undulatus (budgerigar), a gregarious bird of the open plains and wooded grassland, is bred in a variety of colour forms as perhaps the most popular of all cage birds. Pygmy parrots (six species of Micropsitta), found only in New Guinea and nearby islands, are very small and have green upper-parts, blue and black tails, heads patterned with red, blue, or yellow, and tails with stiff, protruding feather shafts, which aid the birds in climbing trees; they inhabit mainly lowland forest, feed on lichen, fruit, seeds, and insects, and nest in termite mounds. There are about 80 genera in the family, comprising more than 340 species, found in Africa, southern Asia, Australasia, Central and S. America, and the Pacific islands.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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