Here at the Parrot Republic, where I do know that all parrots don't live on the beach, but it is a nice image. But seriously, parrots are the common name applied to any of about 340 species of brightly colored birds that make up the parrot family, known as Psittacidae. Groups of parrots that have their own common names include the cockatoos, lories, lovebirds, macaws, and parakeets. In length, parrots range from the buff-faced pygmy parrot (Micropsitta pusio) of New Guinea at 8.4 cm (3.3 in) to the hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) of South America at 100 cm (39.4 in). A large part of the macaw's length is attributable to its long tail, and it is probably outweighed by the very large (60 cm/23.6 in) but short-tailed palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) of New Guinea.
Parrots have curved, hooked bills and short legs. Their toes are zygodactyl, that is, the first and fourth toes are turned backward. They walk awkwardly but are excellent climbers, often using their bills to pull themselves up to a higher branch. In most parrots the tongue is thick and muscular, used deftly for manipulating seeds, which, with fruit, are their principal food. In the lories the tongue is longer and has a brushlike tip for feeding on nectar.
Most parrots are tropical, with only a few species reaching northern and southern temperate areas. The areas of greatest diversity include South America, Australia, and New Guinea and adjacent islands. Relatively few species inhabit Africa or mainland Asia.
The predominant body color in the family is green, but there are many exceptions. Some American parrots are predominantly blue or yellow, and many have touches of red in the plumage as well. The most colorful parrots are the lories, in which reds and greens predominate, but blue, purple, brown, yellow, and black also appear. The cockatoos are mostly white or black, with touches of yellow, red, or pink.
Virtually all parrots are hole-nesters, using holes in trees, termite mounds, rock cavities, or ground tunnels. The main exception is the monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) of temperate South America, which builds large nests of sticks. In most populations, these are communal nests, with each pair having its own entrance to a structure that can become large and heavy enough to break the branches on which it is placed.
The ability of many parrots to imitate the human voice and other extrinsic sounds is one reason for their popularity as pets. The best of these is the African gray (Psittacus erithacus) parrot, a 30-cm (12-in) gray bird with a short red tail. Experiments have shown that individuals of this species may have cognitive abilities equal to those of porpoises and primates. Among American parrots the best talkers are the Amazons (genus Amazona). The heavy demands of the cage-bird trade, together with loss of habitat, have resulted in many species of parrots becoming endangered. Thousands of parrots are brought into Europe and North America annually, both legally and illegally, and many do not survive the journey. In most countries the capture, export, and import of parrots are strictly regulated, but the laws are difficult to enforce. Only those parrots that have been bred in captivity should be kept as pets. Otherwise you are contributing to the endangerment of parrots! Hand raised birds are the way to go. But they take a huge amount of time and attention to be kept as pets. They also chew on everything and can reduce your fine furniture to shredded toothpicks in no time. So if you must have a parrot, please have the time, money, and knowledge before getting one. Also since they will outlive you, you must have someone lined up to take over. This is not a short term pet.