Saving the World With Science

I rarely have a lack of ideas on what to write about, but the recent loss of a good friend has rather muddled my brain and brought an unhealthy ennui to my life. So I thought I would look at the most recent research involving parrots. Why not?

I posted a photo on Facebook recently of a cluster of African Greys, and noticed right off that they were all youngsters. Baby greys have eyes that are totally black, which adds to their adorableness. Apparently researchers are using eye color in greys (excuse me, colour) to tell the age range of the flock.

In other news, Rolc C. Hagen of Hagen Inc. and Hagen Aviculture has donated food to help rescued Amazon chicks that some maroon tried to smuggle out of the wild. 517 birds! All needing handfeeding. Wow.

Parrots are beautiful, intelligent, can be friendly, and sometimes carry on conversations. That makes them desirable, and that leads to danger. So if by some chance you discover a new species of parrot, that’s a good thing, right? Uh, maybe. How sad is it to go from new species to critically endangered in a few heartbeats?

Tiger parrots came to my attention only recently, and now I see them everywhere. Research is being done to determine if they are related to other Australian and New Guinean parrots. Seems the results are tending toward less related, more diversity.

New Zealand’s kea parrots are rather unique in being alpine parrots and keenly interested in taking things apart. Scientists feared that human interactions had created subspecies to appear, but research says that is not the case. Probably.

While parrots are not doing really well in their homelands for several reasons, they do see to be thriving in urban areas. And there is money available for research to see how they manage to be so successful, and what impact they are having on native species of birds, plants, etc.

What do you know about Australia’s western ground parrot? You and all the scientists. This elusive parrot developed habits that make it really hard to study, contrary to the popular thought that those habits endanger the bird and its young. You know, habits like not flying much, nesting on the ground, not calling out to each other. Weird.

Another Australian parrot playing least in sight is the night parrot. Which, you may guess by the name, is only active at night. Most researchers and scientists are sleeping then. Often referred to as the Holy Grail of ornithology, this parrot has been seen rarely and has been thought to be extinct. But feathers discovered in the area they are thought to inhabit match exactly through DNA tests with specimens in museums.

And more on that subject.

In case you are wondering which parrot species are extinct, endangered, or doing okay, here’s a list that was just updated.

I always thought being a park ranger would be a fun, happy job where I could commune with nature and help city folk learn to appreciate squirrels and hawks. Guess that wouldn’t be the whole of the job, considering how often people run into bees, spiders, poison oak, and the odd bear or rabid raccoon. But I never imagined I might put my life on the line to keep the park animals alive. Let alone a species of redwood tree.

And that wraps up my research for today. I’ll be back on a new day in the week, Thursday, and again on Sunday. Have a good day!


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