Lovebirds — and perhaps other species — seem to confound nature’s strong preference for bilateral bodies.
An elusive, nocturnal parrot disappeared for more than a century. An unlikely rediscovery led to ornithological scandal — and then hope.
The bird is a kea from New Zealand, and his fabrication of an instrument to help him preen his feathers appears to be unique, researchers say.
Sydney’s clever and adaptable sulfur-crested cockatoos learn how to pry open garbage bins by watching one another.
Centuries ago, indigenous South Americans brought live parrots hundreds of kilometers across the Andes Mountains, then raised them in captivity in the Atacama Desert, according to a recent study.
The Atacama is one of the last places you’d look for tropical parrots. It’s the world’s driest desert, and it stretches along the Pacific coast of Chile to the west of the Andes Mountains. Most communities in the Atacama are hundreds of kilometers from the nearest place a tropical bird might find livable. But Pennsylvania State University archaeologist Jose Capriles and his colleagues recently examined the skeletons and mummies of 27 Amazonian parrots, representing at least six species, that had been buried as funeral offerings for the dead at several pre-Columbian sites in the Atacama.
They found that the birds had most likely been kept in captivity and plucked often for their bright red, yellow, blue, and green feathers. To get to the desert, the birds must have been captured in their tropical Amazon habitats and carried across the Andes along trade routes. Captured parrots probably arrived on the llama caravans that frequented oasis communities like Pica, in northern Chile.
After a chance encounter in Brazil, Johann Zillinger became one of the world’s most prolific wildlife smugglers. Three decades and two prison stints later, he says he has gone straight.
Five birds who moved to a park in Britain the same week had unprintable vocabularies, which they deployed on amused guests. Keepers said the parrots also learned to laugh at one another.
Previous research suggested that spending a lot of time with humans might make animals more innovative. These birds had another idea.