Parrots and their relatives, the macaws, parakeets and lories, make up a large family. They are brightly colored birds ranging from warbler to eagle size, with strong, hooked beaks and hawk-like heads. The upper jaw moves up so that the beak can work like pliers, crushing the parrot's food.
   The varies species of parrots live in the tropics all over the world. At one time parrots lived in colder regions and disappeared from North America only recently. They travel in pairs or gangs through the tops of tropical forests, shrieking to each other when food is found.
   Parrots can be divided into two groups depending on whether their thick, fleshy tongues are fringed or blunt. The former eat nectars and fruit juices and the latter eat seeds and nuts. One branch of parrots, the lorikeets, crush blossoms and lick up the sticky nectar with their tongues.
   Parrots use their feet as hands to eat. Two of the four toes are turned backward. They are either left or right-handed. They are good climbers, using their beaks to help.
   Most species nest in holes in trees but a few build stick nests. The male helps the female incubate the eggs for three weeks and the young hatch out blind and naked. Most species feed their young on partly digested food.
   Men have made pets of parrots since ancient times. They are the best talkers in the animal kingdom and are good at voice mimicry. As pets, they may live from 50 to 80 years. At one time when it was found they carried psittacosis, or parrot fever, their popularity declined but now an antibiotic is available which will cure birds of this disease.