True parrots

The true parrots are about 330 species of bird belonging to the Psittacidae family, one of the two "traditional" families in the biological order Psittaciformes (parrots). The other family is the Cacatuidae (cockatoos) which are also parrots, but not classified as true parrots. True parrots are more widespread than cockatoos, with species in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and eastwards across the Pacific Ocean as far as Polynesia.

The true parrot family is often considered to contain two subfamilies, the Psittacinae (typical parrots and allies) and the Loriinae (Lories and lorikeets). However, there are other systems of classification and these two groups are sometimes ascribed full family status, being called Psittacidae and Loriidae.

Like most parrots the Psittacidae are primarily seed eaters. There is some variation in the diet of individual species, with fruits, nuts, leaves and even insects and other animal prey being taken on occasion by some species. The lorikeets are predominately nectar feeders; many other parrots will drink nectar as well. Most Psittacidae are cavity nesting birds which form monogamous pair bonds.


The order Psittaciformes (parrots) contains two families of parrots, the cockatoos and the true parrots. These seem to be less distinct from each other than the true parrot lineages are among themselves, and it appears as if eventually most major groups of living parrots will be given the same taxonomic rank. They will probably be treated as subfamilies for the most part, as the living Psittaciformes seem monophyletic with regards to several prehistoric families.

Image gallery

Species lists


  • Bruce Thomas Boehner - Parrot Culture. Our 2,500-year-Long Fascination with the World's Most Talkative Bird (2004)

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