Parrots are familiar, colourful residents in much of the world’s tropical and subtropical rainforests. There are an amazing 387 or so species of parrots and counting - we are still probably yet to find and identify some extremely rare parrots that live in remote rainforests. Parrots are often conspicuous by design of their colourful plumage and are often seen flocking and feeding together, so what is a group of parrots called?
The most common collective nouns for groups of parrots are a pandemonium, flock and company of parrots. Pandemonium - which is a fantastic word - really sticks out here. Groups of parrots are often noisy, chaotic and manic - especially younger parrots - hence why they might be called a pandemonium.
Flock is a much more conventional term, whereas a company likely refers to colourful plumage of parrots that somewhat resembles that of a military parade or company.
Read on to discover more about parrot society and other collective nouns for groups of parrots.
A flock of Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus moluccanus)
As we can see, a pandemonium, flock and company of parrots pretty much cover it.
A small flock of Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) in flight
Parrots do flock together in groups. Parrots engage in a vast range of flocking behaviours for the purposes of foraging, travelling and roosting at least.
Parrots are generally gregarious, and there are very few exceptions. The solitary Kakapo of New Zealand is one of the most notable examples. Whilst many consider parrots to be friendly, there are exceptions here also as many species are fiercely territorial during the breeding season.
Some parakeets, including Golden, New Caledonian and Horned and Monk parakeets, as well as White-bellied Caiques, also engage in some cooperative nesting behaviours, meaning they nest together in small flocks.
Most parrots form single-species flocks, whereas others form mixed flocks, such as Amazon parrots, Conures and Macaws.
A large flock of White-eyed Parakeets (Psittacara leucophthalmus)
Parrots often flock together because their preferred tropical environments confine them to the same areas. Flocking together also provides safety in numbers, providing protection against predators, and also enables birds to share warmth when roosting at night.
Parrots are often overtly sociable and are often observed communicating avidly between groups of 20 or more birds. Parrot society is extremely complex, and its complexity goes some way to explain why parrots are so intelligent. With very large brains compared to their body size, parrots are amongst the most intelligent animals on the planet. Some, such as the Grey parrot, can even associate complex meaning with human words, and many parrots are capable of abstract or complex thought.
In parrots, intelligence is likely associated with sociability. Parrots have learned that their survival rates are higher if they stick together, but they also enjoy socialising with each other in a similar way to other highly intelligent animals, including other birds, apes, dolphins, elephants and of course, humans. They derive value beyond survival from their social interactions - you can even say that they socialise just for the pure fun of doing so.
That certainly isn’t to say that solitary animals aren’t intelligent, but that parrot intelligence helps facilitate their complex social lives.
A group of Red-breasted Parakeets (Psittacula alexandri) in flight
Parrots flock together throughout the year. Almost no species of parrots migrate, so they don’t flock for migratory purposes. Instead, parrots primarily flock to feed and roost. Parrots do still flock together to travel from place to place, and you can occasionally spot large colourful flying groups of flying Macaws, parakeets, lorikeets or other parrots.
Parrots also flock together when roosting; yellow-shouldered parrots form large communal tree-top roosts of hundreds of birds, huddling together at night to retain warmth. The same can be said of many other Amazon parrots who roost communally and form clumped nests.
Many parrots flock to feed, including parakeets, macaws and cockatoos. Cockatoos are often spotted mobbing towns and suburbs. Thousands of white cockatoos famously mob the Australian town of Nowra, gathering daily to ransack the bins, take to rooftop perches and generally cause a hassle - or you could say a pandemonium!
Yellow-shouldered Parrots (Amazona barbadensis) form roosts with hundreds of birds
Parrot flocks can range from a few parrots to hundreds or even thousands of birds. The flocks of white cockatoos described above easily number in the thousands. Other parrots form smaller flocks, such as the African Grey parrot that tends to stick in smaller groups of 20 or so.
Amazon parrots in the Antilles or other smaller Caribbean islands also often form smaller flocks, and some species are pretty solitary. It really does very - the tropical rainforest habitats of most parrots are extremely dense, and many species of parrots live in close proximity, making flock life somewhat of a necessity.
A pair of African Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus) in flight
Parrot parents are highly attentive, and both the male and the female typically put a lot of work into rearing the chicks. For some species of parrots, such as large cockatoos and macaws, parental care extends past the 1-year mark, which is slightly above the average.
After then, the fully-grown offspring will likely join a local flock to find a mate and establish their own territories.
Parrot families do not generally cooperate when it comes to raising chicks like other similarly intelligent sociable birds (e.g. corvids), with the exception of maybe 20 or so species.
A family of Red Macaws flying across the forest
The highly sociable nature of parrots poses somewhat of a paradox, as they rarely breed cooperatively and are often fiercely territorial whilst mating. Parrots such as the Green-rumped Parrotlets, Scarlet, Green-winged, Blue and Gold and Hyacinth Macaws and many species of Amazon parrots tend to retire from flock life whilst breeding.
This is not at all uncommon amongst all birds, but other similarly sociable birds do often breed cooperatively, such as cuckoos, corvids and ostriches.
Cooperative breeding means that birds share territories and nests whilst breeding and rearing chicks, whilst also potentially helping each other build nests and forage food for the offspring, etc.
There are some exceptions, though; White-bellied caiques, Dusky-headed conures and a few species of parakeets have all been observed potentially partaking in cooperative breeding.
Dusky-headed Parakeets (Aratinga weddellii), have been potentially observed with cooperative breeding
There are no specific terms for a pair of parrots, and instead, they are just referred to as a pair of parrots.
Parrots are generally monogamous, with the exception of very few species, including the polyandrous Eclectus parrots and Vasa parrots.
Parrot monogamy means that parrots form life-long mated pairs, and considering many parrots live for over 50 years, some of these bonds may even last as long (or longer) than a human marriage!
With a huge array of courtship rituals, parrot mating and breeding is complex, though most species have simple and gentle courtship rituals rather than the ornate rituals of some neighbouring tropical birds. Studies have revealed the complexities of parrot bonds, suggesting that they are particularly equitable - or fair - when it comes to sharing with their mate.
A breeding pair of Ring-necked Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) at their nesting site, London, UK
There is no distinct name for a group of baby parrots.
Baby parrots remain under their parents' close care and attention for two months to a year. During that time, they may form friendships with other nearby parrot chicks, some of which can be long lasting in some species of Amazon parrots.
Young parrots are often noisy, clumsy and chaotic. You could say that parrot chicks are more likely to form a pandemonium than adult parrots!
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