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The Challenges Wild Parrots Face

You can find parrots in all kinds of places on Earth. They’re foraging in the grasslands of Australia, decorating the treetops in South America and soaring through the skies of Africa and India. In the wild, parrots spend much of their days looking for food, socializing and raising young. But life isn’t always easy no matter where they’re from.


Parrots Live in Many Places

For the most part, you can find parrots living in tropical and subtropical continents and regions. You can find the greatest diversity of them in South America and Australasia. Australasia is a subregion of Oceania and consists of Australia, New Zealand, and some neighboring islands. The majority of places you can find parrots are in warmer climates in the southern hemisphere.
I’ve included a map that shows some of the most commonly known parrots and their locations in the world. While this isn’t a complete list, it can give you a general idea about how widespread parrots are on the planet.

No matter where a parrot is from, those locations pose challenges for wild birds. Issues with climate, predators, human activities and more are all things parrots have to deal with regardless of location. Understanding some of those challenges can help with conservation efforts, which is extremely important seeing as parrots are one of the most endangered animals on earth. According to a recent study by Biodiversity Conservation, they found that more than half of all parrot species are in decline. But learning about the dangers parrots face can also help us to better understand the needs of birds in our home and why they behave the way that they do. Let's take a look at some of the most common issues parrots deal with in the wild.



Lets take a look at two of the most common predators of parrots.

Birds of Prey: Birds that hunt animals and primarily depend on them for food are considered birds of prey. They tend to be quite fast and have keen eyesight in order to spot their targets. Ornithologists, those that specialize in the study of birds, mainly consider a specific type of bird hunters to be included in the category even though there are other birds that hunt animals for food such as penguins who eat fish and storks who like to eat small mammals and frogs.

The most commonly known birds of prey are eagles, hawks and falcons. Parrots have learned to evade these predators in a few different ways. Remaining alert and keeping an eye on the sky as well as behind them is extremely important. Although some predators such as eagles are strong, impressive fliers, parrots can be quite agile and can quickly fly away from danger if necessary. Staying in groups or flocks helps with detection of these predators and once a possible danger is detected by a parrot in a flock, that bird will likely send out an “alert” call to the other birds which results in a quick escape. For the most part, birds of prey will hunt other animals that are easier to catch and will provide more sustenance. But they will go after slower or weaker parrots if the opportunity arises.

Snakes: Snakes also pose a real threat to parrots. They have evolved to be quick, silent killers and have been known to eat parrots and their eggs. Some snakes will kill their prey by compressing them and others rely on poison to finish the job before slowly consuming them. Snakes tend to prefer to eat a parrot’s eggs and chicks as they are easier to hunt and consume. Similar to how a parrot defends itself from birds of prey, they also avoid snakes by staying alert, remaining in groups and taking flight as soon as danger is detected.


Human Activities

Deforestation: The clearing of trees and land in the forest greatly affects the animals that live in it. Parrots have suffered greatly due to deforestation. It is estimated that about 70% of all parrot species depend on trees for nesting as well as a food source. By clearing a large amount of trees in the forest, we are removing a vital element to a parrot’s ability to survive and reproduce.

There are a few different reasons humans have been clearing large amounts of trees. Land is often cleared in order to convert it to a place to grow things such as soy and palm oil. It is also often used to keep livestock. Trees are also cleared for logging, done both legally and illegally. Once an area has been cleared, loggers will move on to other locations. There are restrictions in place in order to prevent too much logging from taking place. However, those restrictions are often ignored and can take place without permits or the authorization to do so.

Fires have also been a contributing factor to forest loss. In the Amazon, they have caused substantial damage to important parts of parrot’s habitats. Although fires can rarely occur naturally there, they mainly occur due to “slash-and-burn” methods of farming. This is when areas of land are clear cut with remaining vegetation being burned. The land is then used to grow crops since after the burn there will be a nutrient-rich layer to help fertilize new crops. An article by the EcoLogic Development Fund describes why this practice is unsustainable and dangerous to the environment by saying “under this method, land is only fertile for a couple of years before the nutrients are used up. Farmers must abandon the land, now degraded, and move to a new plot—clearing more forest in order to do so.”



Poaching and Trapping: Parrots have been trapped and transported for the pet trade for decades. I always find this topic extremely hard to research and write about, because the methods of trapping and transporting the birds are often inhumane and result in the death of many of the affected parrots. However, it is an important thing to be aware of, so I’ll explain a little about what poaching and trapping are.

Poaching occurs when animals are illegally hunted or trapped often by trespassing on land. In the process of trapping, wild populations are reduced, often in parrots that are already endangered in the first place. It also causes a loss in genetic variety in an area and destroys nesting sites in the process. Most birds that are caught are used for the pet trade.

Birds are often trapped by locals in an area who are paid very little for their work. Traps are often set up using bait like food or water. Nets are often used to trap the birds restricting movement so they can be captured. Once they are, they are often put into a box or cage, many times small and cramped with several other birds, and transported to their next location. The trapping and transportation process often results in the death of many of the captured birds. For example, WCS Global Conservation Program reports that it was recently discovered that wildlife traffickers had been catching African Grey parrots in glue traps (pictured right - photo by EAGLE Network) - sometimes by the hundreds. Conservationists estimate that for wild caught birds destined for the pet trade - an astounding 20 parrots die for every one that makes it into a pet store.

In the United States, The Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) was signed into law on October 23, 1992. It prohibits imports of exotic birds in order to help prevent the harm being caused by these activities. The European Union placed a temporary ban on wild bird imports in October 2005 and that ban was made permanent in 2007. Prior to the 2005 regulation, European countries were the largest importers of birds with the majority, about 70%, coming from West Africa.


Climate Change

A study titled “Study on the Impact of Global Warming on Parrots and Countermeasures” was published in 2023. In it, it says that “As climate change intensifies, parrots face challenges such as shifts in geographical ranges, disruptions in synchronized relationships with plants, habitat loss, and increased vulnerability to extreme weather events.

Parrots reside in rainforests and savannas across the world. Because climate change can create changes in weather, it can cause damage to vital resources in those areas that parrots depend on such as vegetation which provides them food and nesting sites. Parrots and plants often have a mutually beneficial relationship with one another. Of course, the birds rely on plants as one of their main food sources, but those birds also help the plants as well. For example, Macaws often transport large fruit in their beaks across the forest. They will fly distances before consuming the pulp of the fruit and discarding the seeds. By doing so, they are helping spread the seeds to other areas where they can grow new plants.

Parrots often set out on seasonal migrations to reach better climate and food sources. When climate change affects the availability of resources and desirable climate in the locations the birds are migrating to, those changes can be harmful to a bird's ability to thrive there. This disrupts their migration and ability to raise young and creates many challenges for survival.


Thankfully, the parrots in our homes have it easier than their wild relatives. You can help provide your pet bird with healthy, fun ways to eat and forage with Bird Street Bistro's line of food products. Try our Cinnaspice Delight bistro mix with organic, all-natural ingredients and flavors that your bird will love!



Olah, G., Butchart, S.H.M., Symes, A. et al. Ecological and socio-economic factors affecting extinction risk in parrots. Biodivers Conserv 25, 205–223 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-015-1036-z

Sims, Shannon. “The Amazon’s Blazing Fires Are Squeezing Habitat for Imperiled Birds.” Audubon, 23 Feb. 2023, www.audubon.org/news/the-amazons-blazing-fires-are-squeezing-habitat-imperiled-birds

Baños-Villalba, A., Blanco, G., Díaz-Luque, J.A. et al. Seed dispersal by macaws shapes the landscape of an Amazonian ecosystem. Sci Rep 7, 7373 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-07697-5

Mumuni, Joseph. Illegal Logging in the Brazil Amazon: From Past to Present, What Are the Actions and Realities?, wiki.ubc.ca/Open_Case_Studies/FRST522/Amazon-Brazil

Huang, Jinghan. “Study on the impact of global warming on parrots and countermeasures.” Highlights in Science, Engineering and Technology, vol. 69, 6 Nov. 2023, pp. 205–211, https://doi.org/10.54097/hset.v69i.11905