This Parrot Is Smaller Than a Hummingbird

With more than 350 species, the world's parrots really do come in all shapes and sizes.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote.

This Sulfur-crested Cockatoo is one of more than 350 species of parrots spread out mostly across the warm places of the world.

Parrots, including this cockatoo, have strong, hooked beaks that are great for cracking even the toughest seeds. They also have an unusual foot structure—two toes forward and two toes back—which allows them to climb and to hold on to objects, like food.

And parrots are known for their legendary intelligence and ability to talk.

These colorful birds range from extra small to extra large. The budgie, or pet store parakeet, is a little bird. But even the budgie dwarfs the smallest of parrots: the 3-inch-long Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot. It’s smaller than most hummingbirds! On the other end of the scale, some macaws can measure three-and-a-half-feet long from their beak to the tip of their tail. 

And the Kakapo of New Zealand may weigh in at almost nine pounds.

Unfortunately, illegal pet sales and habitat loss are threatening more than one third of the parrot species alive today. You can learn more about what people are doing to help, at

I’m Michael Stein.



Written by Bob Sundstrom

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie

Editor: Ashley Ahearn

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill

Narrator: Michael Stein

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo recorded by V Powys. Scarlet Macaw recorded by L.F. Kibler and T.A. Parker III.

BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2019 BirdNote   October 2019

ID# parrot-01-2019-10-24    parrot-01