I was reading through a forum the other day, and one question that piqued my attention was whether the parrot is a bird or an animal. This question made me guffaw a bit because I know that parrots are birds and birds are animals from my zoology class. However, it seems that this question came from a first grader who hasn’t yet undergone a course in zoology.
But even a first grader will already have formed an idea that parrots are birds and animals at the same time. In fact, it will be more acceptable to ask whether parrots are birds or human beings because parrots can talk like humans. Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, we could follow the lead of the abovementioned question and analyze whether it has any merit at all. Moreover, it will be good to know why a mature person would ask whether a parrot is a bird or animal.
Why is a Parrot Considered an Animal?
Suppose we maintain that there are people who think that parrots are like plastic toys. But such a supposition is preposterous, for even those people would surely understand that a parrot is a living being and belongs to the animal kingdom. It is not inanimate like a rock.
But if an alien visits our planet and finds a parrot, it might mistake the parrot for a toy or an inanimate being. Basing our argument, however, on biological sciences, it is not superfluous to believe that parrots are animals. Now, the term “animal” is an umbrella term that encompasses vertebrates and invertebrates.
Vertebrates consist of different categories like mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish. Among these categories, the parrot belongs to the bird kingdom. So, we would all agree that parrots are animals that belong to the bird kingdom.
The Skeletal Structure of the Parrot
If a parrot dies and you happen to discover its bones, you will notice that its skeletons are highly adapted to movement on air. Its bones are modified and have evolved for flight. The parrot has lightweight skeletons and lack bone marrows. Unlike other animals with solid bones, the parrot comes with two clavicles fused together, forming a furcula.
The furcula is the wishbone. It is flexible and pliable enough to support the girdle of the shoulder when the parrot flaps its wings. This fusion of the bone-wish and the collar bone makes possible the flight of the bird.
The parrot also has larger sternums compared to their other body parts. These large sternums offer strong attachment points for the wing muscles. Hence, the parrot and other birds distinguish themselves from other vertebrae.
Almost all animals with a backbone, aside from birds, have bone marrows in their bones. In the case of birds, however, birds do not have bone marrow. Instead, they have bone cavities filled with air. These cavities are connected to their lungs.
This characteristic of the bird’s skeleton is unusual, which is why birds can fly. Parrots, being birds, also have their bone cavities filled with air and connected to their lungs. Hence, parrots can fly.
They got Beaks!
Another structure that distinguishes the bird from other animals is its beak. Mammals and other animals have teeth and powerful paws and jaws. Birds, however, have beaks which they use for finding and probing for food. They also use this beak to kill and prey on other animals. Besides, they use it to groom themselves, eat, and feed their small ones. Therefore, this beak is a typical distinguishing factor that an animal is a bird.
Air Sacs Presence
Birds do not possess a diaphragm which most vertebrates have. Nevertheless, bird’s physiology features air sacs. These air sacs are spaces within the body of the bird that contain air. Air pressure inside the air sacs changes as the bird inhales and exhales.
These air sacs may also extend to other bone cavities. For this reason, the respiratory system of birds is unique and very efficient for flight. Birds also do not sweat because these air sacs let the bird cool itself by expelling out excess heat.
They Got Feathers!
Another distinguishing characteristic of birds is their feathers. Fish, for example, comes with scales. Mammals have furs. Birds, on the other hand, have evolved their feathers. They are the only beings or creatures that got feathers.
Bird’s feathers come in two ways: the lift and the thrust-producing feathers. Birds use their feathers to regulate their body temperature and to camouflage themselves. They also use their feathers to attract other birds or to show off.
They Got Wings!
Birds have evolved wings to let them fly. Other animals have forelimbs designed for different purposes, and they use their forelimbs for balancing and other purposes. However, birds have modified forelimbs which are called “wings.”
Birds make use of their wings to fly. They also utilize these wings to regulate their body temperature. It will be good to note that all birds have wings.
Are Parrots Always Classified as Animals?
Parrots belong to the animal kingdom, and they are not inanimate or plastic toys. They belong to the bird family of animals, and they are vertebrates. But kids may get fascinated with talking parrots because they know that only humans can speak like humans. So, when parrots mimic how humans speak, kids and even some adults are taken aback.
Parrots, just like humans, belong to the animal kingdom. But, of course, parrots can mimic human speeches. They are intelligent birds. But there’s no doubt that they are animals and belong to the bird family.
The question as to whether parrots are animals or birds may seem preposterous and superfluous to you. It may even sound absurd to ask such a question, for anyone in his or her right mind and education will surely know that parrots are birds and animals at the same time. But the parrot is such an unusual creature. It is intelligent and can mimic human speech. As such, some people may even entertain this question in their minds and even ask whether parrots are humans, couched in a bird’s body.
The fact is that parrots are birds. They are intelligent birds, and they can do many amusing tricks. But when it comes to how they are grouped in the animal kingdom, they belong to the bird family, and they are animals and not some kind of unusual beings who could talk.