Pygmy parrots, as their name suggests, are the smallest members of the parrot family and are even smaller than budgerigars. There are six species which are found in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Unusually for birds, pygmy parrots eat a lot of lichen and fungus as well as some seeds, fruit and insects.
Scientific name: Micropsitta
A thumb-sized parrot is found in Papua New Guinea.
Correction 10 September 2009: Since the Lost Land of the Volcano programme was broadcast on Tuesday 8 September, we've learnt that this parrot may have been mis-identified. Ornithologist Dr Jack Dumbacher now believes the parrots filmed may be yellow-capped pygmy parrots (Micropsitta keiensis), not buff-faced pygmy parrots (Micropsitta pusio). At an average height of 9 to 9.5cm, the closely-related yellow-capped pygmy parrots are slightly taller than buff-faced pygmy parrots. The world's smallest species of parrot, the buff-faced pygmy parrot, is found in the forests of Papua New Guinea. To capture this little bird in action is a waiting game for cameraman Gordon Buchanan. Smaller than some of the insects which live in these forests, the pygmy parrots are barely larger than Gordon's thumb. They have true parrot feet with two toes facing forward and two behind, and like other parrots the male and female pairs have a strong bond, appearing affectionate and constantly reaffirming their relationship.
Closer inspection of a small parrot.
Correction 10 September 2009: Since Lost Land of the Volcano was broadcast, we've learnt that this parrot may have been mis-identified. Ornithologist Dr Jack Dumbacher now believes the parrots filmed may be yellow-capped pygmy parrots (Micropsitta keiensis), not buff-faced pygmy parrots (Micropsitta pusio). At an average height of 9 to 9.5cm, the closely-related yellow-capped pygmy parrots are slightly taller than buff-faced pygmy parrots. Weighing in at just half an ounce a buff-faced pygmy parrot, is the smallest species of parrot in the world, found only in the forests of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
Pygmy parrots are the smallest members of the parrot order. There are six species of pygmy parrot; all in the genus Micropsitta, which is the only genus in the Micropsittini tribe.
Pygmy parrots are native to the forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. Pygmy parrots are tiny birds: fast-moving, mostly green with bright highlights. A pygmy parrot spends a good deal of time climbing through foliage, using its large feet and beak, and stiffened tail feathers. At a little over 8 cm (3.5 in) long, the Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot is the smallest parrot species.
Pygmy parrots are also among the few species in the order (other examples include Pyrilia and Nannopsittaca species) that have never been successfully kept, let alone bred, in captivity. All attempts to do so have resulted in the quick deaths of the little birds. Stress and dietary deficiencies are probably to blame. Pygmy parrots are among the few birds that feed on fungus and lichen, which play a major role in their diet. Their precise dietary needs are however poorly understood.
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