“There’s a reason that they can be such charming pets: they have a lot of characteristics that we think of as human,” Wright said.
“They’re particularly intelligent – they have advanced cognitive abilities, they’re capable of learning vocalizations and of mimicking our vocalizations. They also tend to have very tight social bonds.”
These captivating qualities led Wright to spend the last 20 years studying this fascinating group of birds, and, more recently, to co-author “ Parrots of the Wild ,” a book exploring the lives and history of wild parrots.
“It was a tremendous honour,” Wright said. “I knew it was going to be a very exciting book in that it was trying to meet twin goals; It was trying to be a real scientific work – it was synthesizing a lot of what was known from field studies about parrots, as well as laboratory studies of their behaviour, sensory capacities and cognitive abilities – yet also making it accessible to the public.”
The authors worked together in order to achieve the balance of presenting scientific work using language understandable by the general audience.
Section topics included in the book:
- The evolutionary history of parrots
- Parrot feeding habits
- Social behaviour
- Mating systems
The book covers a lot of information about the parrots from how they evolve from 1 into 350 species, to new statistics including parrot extinction and conservation success stories.
“Parrots are actually one of the most endangered groups of birds,” Wright said. “Some of that is due to loss of habitat – that’s one of the very characteristic things people do is cut down forests for agriculture or other reasons, and that can hurt parrots. The other main reason for endangerment is capture for the pet trade, which has decimated some species.”
The book shares about parrot endangerment balancing with data on conservation success stories.
“I think Cathy’s hope was to show people who are fascinated by parrots as captive animals, what wild parrots were like,” Wright said. “It might help them be better pet owners, be more considerate and perhaps to do a better job of preserving wild parrot populations.”
While there is still much to learn about how parrots live in the wild, Wright explained that the glimpses we do have share similarities with us.
“I think that some of the aspects of parrot ecology – the way they move through the environment, the way they communicate to help each other find food, that sort of thing – is instructive for thinking about human evolution, as social, large-brained, communicative animals,” Wright said.
More information about the book:
- Listen to a podcast of Wright discussing the book with the World Parrot Trust – Click here.
- Purchase the book – Click here.