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The order Psittaciformes gets its name from the Latin word "psittacus", meaning a male parrot. There are many species of parrots throughout the tropical and semi-tropical regions of the planet. Their diet is mainly fruit, seeds and nuts. They all have a very thick, strong, curved beak that helps them break open hard shells. Most of them are very brightly coloured. In their natural habitat of thick jungles and exotic flowers, this actually helps to camouflage them. Their loud, raucous calls can be heard for long distances through the jungle. Parrots have short legs, and unusual feet with two toes pointing forward and two pointing backward.

Their beauty, and their behaviour have made them very popular pets. One attraction is their ability to mimic sounds. They can learn a large vocabulary of human words and expressions. In captivity, their lifespan is extremely long, and they often outlive their owners. Many popular species are now threatened with extinction because there is so much money to be made by capturing them for the pet trade.

The Thick-Billed Parrot is the only one found naturally in North America. They live mainly in Mexico, but occasionally wander into Arizona and New Mexico. Several other species, not native to the area, have escaped from captivity. They don't necessarily thrive in the wild because they evolved to live in a different environment. [LH] {BI} {ID} {LE}

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