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Birds were thought to have been first kept as pets 4,000 years ago, and the tradition probably arose from keeping birds as a source of food.
Egyptian hieroglyphics show images of pet birds, including parrots. Parrots were highly prized by the ancient Greeks, who kept the birds in cages made of precious metal. Wealthy Roman households often kept a pet parrot, and it was part of the slave's job to take care of the bird and to teach it to talk.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus returned from South America, bearing a pair of Cuban Amazon parrots as a gift for Queen Isabella of Spain.
In the sixteenth Century, Henry VIII kept an African grey parrot at Hampton Court.
Parrots in captivity can live for 40 to over 100 years this depends on the species.
There are 358 different species of parrot, which include cockatoos, lovebirds, lorrikeets and budgerigars. They are distributed through the tropical and subtropical regions of both the southern and the northern hemispheres, but the largest number of species occur in Australia and the Amazon.
Most species prefer forest habitats, but some, such as the cockatiel, live in open country.
Many parrots live in large flocks. They feed on seeds, fruits, nuts, nectar and fungi. Parrots are vocal birds and make 'screaming' calls to communicate with each other.
Grey parrots lay two broods of eggs a year. The female incubates the three to four eggs herself. Sulphur-crested cockatoos lay four to five eggs in a hole in a tree, which both parents incubating them for 22 days.
Rainbow lorrikeets lay two eggs, which the female incubates for 25 days. Both parents feed the chicks until they are seven to eight weeks old.
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