Parrots. In works on natural history, we generally find the members of this family of levirostoes, or large billed birds, ranged under six divisions; but it will be sufficient to enumerate only those that are usually treated as household pets, viz. the Macaws, which include the Cockatoos and Toucans; the Parrots, which include the Parakeets; and the Lories, which have, perhaps, the most gorgeous plumage of any. Let us commence with the first-named division The Macaws, which, for gracefulness of form and richnessof plumage, may vie with the most beautiful members of their tribe. They are distinguished from the true Parrots by having the cheeks bare of feathers and the tail very long, in which latter respect they resemble the Parakeets, than which, however, they are generally larger birds They are usually more sedate and less given to mischievous practices, such as biting and tearing things to pieces, than other members of the family, although they are vivacious birds, and withal very noisy ones, occupying a great deal of their time in discordant screeching. There is much of grace in their motions, and the rich metallic reflections which play over their plumage renders them extremely ornamental in the hall or drawing-room. These Macaws are mostly natives of the tropical parts of America, where they nestle in the holes of decayed trees, which some are said to excavate in the same way as do our Wood-pecker. It is certain that one species burrows in the elevated banks of rivers and streams, and perhaps others may do the same, for of their habits in a wild state but little comparatively is known. With regard to food, they appear to prefer dry seeds to succulent berries; in the neighbourhood of cultivated lands they feed much on coffee. They can scarcely be called gregarious, being found mostly in pairs; sometimes two or three of these pairs form a little community, hut there does not seem to be much sociability among them.
Parrots. We now come to the Parrot proper, forming what is called the typical group, or Psitticina, of the great parrot family. In this included all the short and even-tinted species which are found distributed throughout all parts of the globe, but chiefly in the tropical countries, and especially those of America. Their general form may be described as rather strong and compact than elegant. The colours of their plumage are not so varied and brilliant as those of the Macaws and Lories, although some of the Parakeets, which are usually classed with them, may vie in this respect with the most superb of the tribe. Hut the true Parrots are chiefly valued on account of their aptitude for imitation and extraordinary power of articulating words and sentences, in which art they are the greatest proficients of any.
Parrot Food. Bread and milk should form the chief diet for these birds, and this is how it should be prepared : - take best white bread, moderately new, cut it into slices and place it in hot water : let it stand for a short time, then drain off' the liquid, and pour over it as much boiling milk as it will absorb without being too moist; place this food in the feeding vessel, which should be of porcelain, or glass; and give it fresh twice a day, taking care that the vessel is carefully washed each time before the food is put in. In the winter time a supply for the whole day may be made, but in hot weather it should not be more than ten or twelve hours old. This kind of soft food should not be exclusively employed, but have occasional variations in the shape of biscuit, broken small farinaceous grain, and nuts of any kind, fruit both soft and hard; if Indian corn is given, it should be first boiled, then drained dry, and Buffered to cool: this is for the larger kinds of Parrots ; to the smaller give, besides bread and milk, soft fruit, with hemp and canary seed, and millet. A cayenne pepper-pod, chopped small, is good occasionally for all kinds; but meat should be avoided ; and so should pastry and sweets generally. It is a mistaken kindness to feed feathered pets too highly ; the digestive organs of birds in confinement never have fair play, for want of that exercise which, in a wild state, they would take : therefore, let them have easily digestive food; do not overload their stomachs, and so engender diseases which will render their lives mise-rable if they do not bring them to an untimely end.
Let them have plenty of this, both to drink and bathe in, and be sure that it is at all times clean and sweet.
Parrot Lodging. We need not say much upon this head; everybody knows what a Parrot requires - a good roomy cage, if he be kept in one (the bell-shape is the best), made of metal wire, not painted; a loose ring to swing on above, and a perch or two below, with proper eating and drinking vessels, not of zinc or pewter, but, as we said before, of glass or porcelain. Sprinkle the bottom with coarse sand, and in warm weather clean out every day; in cold, twice a week or so will do, or even once. Rear in mind that Parrots are mostly tropical birds, and carefully guard them from exposure to cold. Let them have as much sunshine as possible, and whenever the weather will permit, place them in the open air amid flowering shrubs : at other times, where a greenhouse is available, let them go there. An aviary with myrtles and other odoriferous plants about it, and the temperature well up, will make them think they are in their native spice isles of the Eastern Seas. For the larger kinds of Parrots, Macaws, and Cockatoos, the open perch is the thing; let the chain of attachment be of a good'length, and as slight as is consistent with strength: no silken cord will do, for the strong mandibles of the bird will soon sever this, be it ever so thick ; tin vessels for food and drink may be affixed to the perch ; but take care that they do not get rusty and corroded.
Teaching And Training Parrots. Be patient, be gentle, - and if the pupil can learn, he will; repeat the lesson frequently, and give rewards for diligence and attention (some choice morsel), but never threaten or punish - no good is effected by this, but much harm. Never let your bird be teased or trifled with - many a good temper has been spoiled by such means - many a fond, affectionate creature rendered spiteful and morose. Think of the deprivations to which the poor captive is subjected for the pleasure of its possessor; of what he would enjoy if he were at liberty in his own home, of warm sunshine and luxuriant vegetation; and do all you can to make his prison-life pleasant and agreeable to him.