There are over 350 colorful species in this order. These are the parrots, parakeets, macaws, cockatoos, and lovebirds of the world. They are found predominately in the tropical regions of the world (Central America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia), though several species have also managed to colonize some of the temperate regions of the US, Great Britain, and other European countries.
Within the order, there are three superfamilies: Psittacoidea (the ‘true’ parrots), Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots), and Cacatuoidea (the cockatoos). The superfamily Psittacoidea contains the most members and they’re split between the New World and Orld World parrots, parakeets, lovebirds, and macaws.
Within the superfamily Strigopoidea there are two families:
Family Nestoridea (the kea and New Zealand kaka)
Family Strigopidea (the critically endangered flightless kakapo)
Within the superfamily Cactuoidea, there is a single family with several subfamilies and tribes:
- Subfamily Nymphicinae (the cockatiel)
- Subfamily Calyptorhynchinae (black cockatoos)
- Subfamily Cactuinae
- Tribe Microglossini (black palm cockatoo)
- Tribe Cactunini (white, pink, and gray cockatoo species)
Within the superfamily Psittacoidae there are three family with numerous subfamilies and tribes
Family Psittacidae (New and Old World parrots and parakeets)
- Subfamily Psittacinae (Old World/African parrots)
- Subfamily Arinae (New World parrots and parakeets)
- Tribe Arini
- Tribe Androglossini
Family Psittrichasiidae (Indian Ocean island parrots)
- Subfamily Psittrichasinae (Pesquet’s parrot)
- Subfamily Coracopsinae (Vasa parrots)
Family Psittaculidae (Asia and Australasian parrots and lovebirds)
- Subfamily Platycercinae
- Tribe Pezoporini (ground parrots and allies)
- Tribe Platycercini (broad-tailed parrots)
- Subfamily Psittacellinae
- Subfamily Loriinae
- Tribe Loriini (lories and lorikeets)
- Tribe Melopsittacini (the Budgerigar)
- Tribe Cyclopsittini (fig parrots)
- Subfamily Agapornithinae
- Subfamily Psittaculinae
- Tribe Polytelini
- Tribe Psittaculini (Asian psittacinies)
- Tribe Micropsittini (pygmy parrots)
Key features for members of this order include:
The upper mandible of their beak is hinged to their skull, while the lower mandible fits under the upper. Their thick hooked beaks, allow them to eat a variety of foods, and move food around as they’re eating.
They have zygodactyl feet (two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backwards).
Most live in forests in pairs or small groups.
A third of the species are threatened with extinction (highest percentage of all bird groups) and the threat is due to habitat loss, hunting, and the illegal bird trade.
There have been a few species that could be found within the southern parts of the United States: the green parakeet can still be spotted within Texas, the thick-billed parrot can still be seen occasionally in the southwestern parts (though it is considered to be an extripated species–extinct in local areas), and then there had been the Carolina parakeet that was driven to extinction by the early 1900s through a probable combination of loss of habitat, hunting, and the introduction of non-native species.
Now most species that are spotted within the United States are usually those that escaped from captivity or were released and were able to form colonies in the area.
Within the superfamily Psittacoidae, there are members of both families that can be seen within the US:
The ring-neck (or rose-ringed) parakeet can be spotted in Florida, California, and Hawaii
Plus many others that haven’t established colonies. These include the Senegal parrot, Patagonian Conure, Green-cheeked parakeet, orange-fronted parakeet, orange-chinned parakeet, red-shouldered macaw, and others.
Within the family Psittacidae, the following species can be spotted, usually in the warmer parts of the country:
While I’ve managed to spot two species (one I have a digital picture of and the other I have physical pictures of), a goal is to get at least three-to-five pictures of different members of the order in Central America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Currently I have gotten pictures of the rose-ringed (or ringed-neck) parakeet in London (my digital picture) and the scarlet macaw (from a trip to Honduras twenty years ago–my physical pictures).