Par­rots and song­birds

Bird Watching (UK) - - Meet The Family -

Par­rots’ clos­est rel­a­tives are, it turns out, the song­birds. Stud­ies in the last decade showed that the com­mon an­ces­tor of land­birds, which in­clude song­birds, par­rots, wood­peck­ers, owls, ea­gles and fal­cons, was an apex preda­tor. Whole-genome anal­y­sis dates the evo­lu­tion­ary ex­pan­sion of birds to the time of the mass ex­tinc­tion event 66 mil­lion years ago – it had for­merly been thought that they blos­somed 10 to 80 mil­lion years ear­lier. Only a few bird lin­eages sur­vived the mass ex­tinc­tion, and gave rise to the more than 10,000 ‘Neoaves’ species that com­prise 95% of all bird species liv­ing to­day. It’s thought that the freed-up eco­log­i­cal niches caused by the ex­tinc­tion al­lowed rapid species ra­di­a­tion of birds in less than 15 mil­lion years, which ex­plains much of mod­ern bird bio­di­ver­sity.

FULL OF COLOUR Both male (right) and fe­male Eclec­tus Par­rots have strik­ingly colour­ful plumages

DIS­TINC­TIVE LOOKS Glossy Black Cock­a­toos are found in Aus­tralia

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