Parrots live in a wide variety of habitats, but most of them inhabit tropical or subtropical regions and continents including Australia and Oceania, Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, South America, and Central America.
The habitat preference of these parrots varies from species to species.
The different types of habitats that these birds live in include rainforests, grasslands, woodlands, rainforests, palm forests, desert edges, scrubland, etc.
Although some species live in urban areas like gardens, farmland, and parks most of them live in undisturbed forests.
Some Pacific islands and the Caribbean are home to endemic species.
Undoubtedly, the highest numbers of parrot species largely come from Australia and South America.
With the greatest diversity found in and around New Guinea, lorries and lorikeets can be found from Sulawesi and the Philippines to Australia and across the Pacific to French Polynesia.
All neotropical parrots belong to the subfamily Arinae, including amazons, macaws, and conures, and range from northern Mexico to Tierra del Fuego in South America.
Pygmy parrots, of the tribe Micropsittini, considered the world’s smallest parrots are restricted to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Three aberrant parrot species from New Zealand belong to the superfamily Strigopoidea.
As far east as Fiji, broad-tailed parrots, and subfamily Platycercinae, are found only in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands.
The true parrot superfamily, Psittacoidea, includes a range of species from Africa, Australia, New Guinea, and South Asia.
In addition to Australia and New Guinea, cockatoos can also be found in the Solomon Islands (one species used to live in New Caledonia), Wallacea, and the Philippines.
The cool, temperate regions of South America and New Zealand are home to several parrot species.
Most parrots live in warm climates. For example, maroon-fronted parrots, Thick-billed parrots, and keas live in snowy alpine areas. They are even referred to as snowbirds.
Thick-billed parrots, Green parakeets, and the now-extinct Carolina parakeet have lived as far north as the southern United States.
Several parrots have been introduced to temperate climates like New York City, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain, and Greece.
These birds can thrive in introduced areas, including the U.S., where the red-crowned amazon population may rival their native Mexico.
There is only one parrot that lives in alpine climates, the Kea, which is endemic to New Zealand’s Southern Alps mountain range.
Only a few parrots are fully sedentary or fully migratory.
Some adopt an entirely nomadic lifestyle, while others make poorly understood regional movements.
Orange-bellied, blue-winged, and swift parrots are the only migratory species.
Where Do All Parrots Live?
Parrots live worldwide, but predominantly in Australia, Africa, Asia, and South America. A parrot’s primary habitat is warmer weather, usually in association with rainforest or jungle. However, some parrots (such as the Kea) live in other climates.
Let’s examine some parrot species and where they live.
- Lovebirds (genus Agapornis): Probably the most well-known parrots from the African continent are lovebirds. They can be found in various habitat types from forests to savanna as well as urban environments: feral populations exist in many parts of the world.
- Senegal parrots (genus Poicephalus): These black-headed birds naturally occur in West Africa, where they inhabit open areas such as savanna land.
- African grey parrots (genus Psittacus): This popular pet parrot is naturally found in equatorial Africa; it’s also sometimes referred to as the Congo parrot because it can be found in this country. In their natural habitat, African greys prefer dense forests.
- African ring-necked parrots (Psittacula krameri): The distribution of the Indian ringneck’s African cousins (which belong to the same species) pretty much cuts right through Africa in a straight line, from Guinea in the west to Somalia in the east. It’s also found in Egypt. They can usually be found perched in palms- and other trees, far from the dangers on the ground.
- Eclectus parrots (Eclectus roratus): This colorful species can be found in parts of Indonesia (Moluccas and Sumba islands), although it also occurs in the continent of Oceania. Eclectus parrots nest in hollow rainforest trees.
- Indian ring-necked parakeets (Psittacula krameri): Now, as with Eclectus parrots, Indian ringnecks are not restricted to Asia. There are two African subspecies, giving the genus as a whole an incredibly wide range. The two Asian subspecies, which are larger than their African counterparts, can be found in India and surrounding countries.
- Alexandrine parakeets (Psittacula eupatria): These are members of the same genus as the Indian ringneck parrots and are very similar in appearance. They can be found in forests in India, as well as parts of South and South East Asia.
- Cockatoos(genus Cacatua,Zanda, etc.): Various cockatoo species are naturally found in Asia. There’s the popular Moluccan cockatoo which, as the name suggests, is naturally found in Indonesia and particularly the Moluccas islands. Other Asian cockatoos include the umbrella cockatoo, citron-crested cockatoo, and the Goffin’s cockatoo.
- Hanging parrots (genus Loriculus): Also known as bat parrots, these funky guys sleep upside down. Naturally found in various habitats in Southern Asia, they’re not really common pets.
Australian parrots ( & New Zealand)
- Budgies (Melopsittacus undulatus): The most popular parrot in the world, the budgerigar, is naturally found in the harsh inland habitats of Australia. Here, they don’t stay in one place much: flocks are nomadic and move around in an attempt to find spots with plenty of food and water. Open habitats like grasslands are preferred.
- Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus): Australia also has the honor of being home to the second most popular parrot. Cockatiels are a small cockatoo variety that can be found in bushland and wetland throughout almost the entire country. These areas are very dry, so like budgie flocks, cockatiels move around to always be close to water sources.
- Cockatoos (genus Cacatua, etc.): Many cockatoo species can naturally be found in Australia, including some of the most popular species. Galah cockatoos inhabit open habitats throughout the country, while sulfur-crested ‘toos prefer woodland. The colorful Major Mitchell’s cockatoo inhabits the arid inland. Some species, like the bare-eyed cockatoo and the black palm cockatoo (the largest cockatoo), can be found in both Australia and New Guinea. The latter only occurs in the northernmost tip of Queensland.
- Lorikeets & lories (genus Trichoglossus, Lorius, etc.): These colorful birds are common throughout Australasia including Australia, Polynesia, South East Asia, and Papua New Guinea. The rainbow lorikeet, which is most commonly kept as a pet, is an Australian native that inhabits areas rich in plant life, including backyards. Lories and lorikeets need these trees and bushes to find their main food source: nectar.
- Rosellas (genus Platycercus): These colorful parrots are typically Australian and can also be found in Tasmania. They inhabit coastal regions and are not too picky when it comes to habitat type.
- Bourke’s parakeets (Neopsephotus bourkii): The gentle, colorful Bourke’s parakeet occurs in large parts of Australia, where it inhabits forested areas featuring Acacia, eucalyptus, and cypress. It does move around just like budgies and cockatiels do, always in search of food and water sources.
New Zealand is known for hiding no shortage of strange birds in its extensive nature: it’s the home of the kiwi, after all! It also features some very unusual parrots.
- Kea (Nestor notabilis): This large species is an alpine parrot, that prefers mountainous regions on the South Island. Unlike many other parrots, it is an omnivore that also feeds on carrion.
- Kakapo (kākāpō, Strigops habroptilus): This large, ground-dwelling parrot species once had a wide range across New Zealand but is now critically endangered due to the introduction of predators like cats.
- Kakariki (kākāriki, genus Cyanoramphus): Also known as New Zealand parakeets, these are relatively popular as pets. The three species are found on both the mainland and outlying islands.
- Kaka (kākā, Nestor meridionalis): This large parrot is similar to the kea, although its preference lies in lowland forests rather than alpine areas. Its natural distribution was shrinking quickly but conservation efforts do appear to be effective so far.
Note: New Guinea, also part of Australasia, is home to an extraordinary range of parrots for such a small area. Lories, lorikeets, fig parrots, and a whole bunch of other species are naturally found there. Honorable mention goes to the Dracula parrot, a fig-eating species that has received attention in popular media for its scary looks.
Central & South American parrots
- Conures (genus Pyrrhura, Aratinga, etc.): The various types of conures, like sun conures, green cheek conures, nandays, jendays, crimson bellies, and more have a pretty wide range in South America. Brazil is especially rich in conure diversity, mostly in forests and woodland.
- Lineolated parakeets (Bolborhynchus lineola): These funny little parakeets are found in highland forests in Mexico, Panama, the Andes mountains, Venezuela, and Colombia.
- Amazon parrots (genus Amazonas): The many species of Amazon are found all over South America as well as in Mexico and the Caribbean. Their habitats are pretty diverse, ranging from relatively open savanna lands to deep rainforests.
- Macaws (genus Ara, Anodorhynchus, etc.): Probably the most famous of parrots, the many gorgeous species of macaw are New World natives, meaning they’re found in South America. Their habitats also extend into Central America and Mexico. They mainly inhabit rainforests although some species can also be found in less forested areas.
- Caiques (genus Pionites): These medium-sized parrots are naturally found around the Amazon Basin area, where they inhabit forests. Caiques mostly stick to the treetops.
- Parrotlets (genus Forpus, Nannopsittaca, etc.): These are the smallest South American parrots, even smaller than the already tiny lineolated parakeet. They inhabit Central America and Mexico and have a wide range in South America. Parrotlet habitat is very varied, although they generally prefer somewhat open areas and are not usually found in deep forests.
- Quaker parrots: Aside from the huge feral populations that have been established worldwide (and are considered quite a nuisance!), quaker parrots are found in the southern end of South America in and around Argentina. Here, they build massive family nests in treetops.
How Does a Parrot Survive in Its Habitat?
Parrots have evolved to have special adaptations that allow them to survive in their environment.
These evolutionary adaptations enable parrots to get the most from the resources available to them.
Parrots have a long lifespan. Some species can live up to 80 years.
This isn’t without various adaptations and characteristics that have helped them survive in perilous environments, from rainforests to the mountains.
Parrots have zygodactyl feet that allow them to climb vertical heights and grasp perches.
Their strong wings enable them to fly with minimal energy and also help them to communicate.
A parrot’s beak is a hookbill shape that allows them to crack tough shells, groom, and line their nests.
Their bones are light and hollow to keep them in the air, and their respiratory systems are efficient at pumping oxygenated air to the lungs.
These adaptations are essential for eating, flying, breathing, digesting food, and communicating with other parrots.
They’re also necessary for parrots to survive predation or capture in the wild.
What Trees Do Parrots Live In?
Generally, parrots live in tropical trees with huge leaves, such as deciduous trees. If you live in an area where parrots are native, you can opt for native plants. However, many tropical plants may not survive in cold locations like North America.
Remember that Parrots live in tropical habitats, and like all birds, they are attracted to places where they can easily meet all their basic needs.
These basic needs include food, water, shelter, and a place to bathe.
The best way to provide natural shelter for wild parrots in your yard or garden is to plant the right types of trees.
Here are some tropical plants that can thrive in colder climates and different soil types:
• Elephant ears
• Fig trees.
• Hardy ferns
• Hardy banana
• Jelly palm
• Maypop or passionflower.
• Mango tree
• Neem tree
Since parrots are native to tropical climates, you can plant tropical plants around your property to attract parrots to your window or yard.
Even though not all parrots are tropical, the ones that are may become attracted to the familiarity of the environment.
If you reside in an apartment, you can plant some small tropical plants in pots.
Do Parrots Live in Nests?
Parrots live in nest boxes, and this is true for nearly all parrots in captivity. However, in the wild, parrots exploit a variety of more interesting sites.
While the sites used by nesting wild parrots do differ, most breed in some sort of cavity or hollow that hides the nest and provides a measure of protection against the weather. Most parrots nest in tree cavities.
While pet parrots are renowned among their owners for their ability to chew wood, most species are unable to make hollows in trees suitable for nesting.
For this reason, most parrots are dependent on tree cavities that form by other means.
Branches often break off large trees leaving the heartwood exposed.
This exposed wood then decomposes with the help of fungus and termites leaving a natural hole that may be suitable for parrot nesting.
In lowland Peru, many of the holes used by Green-winged Macaws (Ara chloroptera) are formed in this way when branches break from the towering Dipterix trees.
A few parrots may also be able to use holes made by woodpeckers.
The hard-headed woodpeckers are specially adapted for pounding out holes in solid wood. After the woodpeckers finish nesting, parrots may move in to raise a family.
If the hole is too small or needs a little renovation, the parrots may use their chewing ability to enlarge and customize the hole.
The Military Macaws (Ara militaris) of northern Mexico are thought to have used the holes of the now nearly extinct Imperial Woodpecker.
But as this large woodpecker disappears so does this potential source of nest cavities.