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The Talking Parrot

Parrots are birds with a strong curved hook, up right stance, and clawed feet. They are found mostly in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Parrots have the ability of some species to imitate human speech. So humans keep them as pets. Different species of parrots have different length and different colours. The usual diets of parrots are seeds, nuts, fruit, buds and other plant material. Almost all parrots nest in tree hollows and lay white eggs.

Catching wild parrots for the pet trade has diminished their populations. Governments have taken measures to check pet trade. The history of parrots is not correctly known. It is said they have evolved in Gondwana. There are scarcity of parrots in the fossil records. In the northern hemisphere also there are fossil records of parrots. Molecular studies suggest that parrots evolved 59 million years ago in Gondwana. Several skeletons of parrot like birds have been found in England and Germany.

Most parrot species are tropical, but a few species are in temperate zones. Parrots are found in Australia, Oceania, South Asia, South east Asia, Central America, South America and Africa. Several parrots inhabit the cool temperate regions of South America and New Zealand.

It is difficult to study wild parrots as they are difficult to catch. And when caught difficult to mark. As there are many types of parrots, their behaviour is also different. Parrots are monogamous breeders who nest in cavities. The male female pair remain close during all time-even in non-breeding season. Pair bond formation is preceded by courtship displays. The eggs of parrots are white. In most species, the female undertakes all the incubation. The female remains in the nest for almost all the incubation period and is fed by the male. Incubation varies from 17 to 35 days. The newly born lack feathers or with sparse white down. The young spend three weeks to four months in the nest depending on species. They receive parental care for several months there after. All birds and animals are instinctive. Way of life has come from the birth. They do not take enough time for upbringing.

Learning in early life is important to all parrots. That learning is social learning. Parrots do not have vocal cords. Different sounds are produced by changing the depth and shape of trachea. Grey Parrots are known for their superior ability to initiate sounds and human speech which has made them popular pets since ancient times. Amazon parrots are best imitators and speakers.

Since ancient times, parrots have been mentioned in sacred texts like puranas, Ramayana and Mahabharata and in folk tales, As pets Parrots help humans in many respects, even a story is there, parrot pointed out the unchastity of wife, when husband is away from home. It is said-Parrots are worshippers of Lord Vishnu. So they utter frequently- chakradhara kamalara bara, Pakshi janmaru pari kara. (O Lord Vishnu. The husband of laxmi, kamala give me Mukti or Moksha and do not give bird’s life again).

When I was reading in matriculation in the native Village I had a pet parrot. As my mother was waking me in the early morning the Parrot was also waking me as the examination is knocking at the door. After all Parrots are best friends of humans.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

Radhakanta Seth is an Income tax officer in Sambalpur.  He is a Freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published from Kolkata.

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