Parrots are so beautiful to look at, but many people don’t realize that they are also extremely important for keeping ecosystems healthy, maintaining biodiversity in the places in which they live and serving as indicators of habitat and climate change. It has been documented that parrots, in a way that is similar to monkeys, are critical for dispersing large seeds due to their enormous flight range. In addition to the distances they can cover in flight, they are able to crack hard nuts with their large, strong bills and are messy eaters who will carry fruits and nuts miles away and then just drop them. What parrots do when they drop fruits and nuts is engender entire ecosystems below the trees, not to mention grow the diversity of life in a given habitat.
Wild parrots are also important indicators of forest health, moving towards food sources and away from threats. We need them not just to help maintain biodiversity, but also to help maintain forest health, which translates into health for all species involved. To put it more succinctly: healthy parrots = healthy ecosystems!
Scarlet Macaw Photo by CultivArte & COLABORATIONation, PhotosForWork.com
Protecting parrots does much more than keep ecosystems healthy, however, as they may also serve as indicators of the impact of climate change. The science of this needs more study, but it seems that parrot chicks grow at different rates depending on the amount of rain in their habitat, which is greatly influenced by climate change. If chick growth patterns are varying a great deal (for example, growing earlier or later, losing or gaining weight, etc.), these patterns may be early indicators of forest change due to climate change.
The bottom line is that people, and the rest of life, need parrots to maintain beauty in the world, help us to stay well and keep life in balance. We must do our utmost to protect and cherish these wonderful beings.