For centuries, man has loved birds and kept them in cages, as pets. What is interesting is that some of these birds like the parrot and mynah can be taught to imitate the human voice. There are many species of parrots and mynahs, which, if properly taught, can clearly speak many words and smaller sentences like human beings. Do you know how they can do it? The parrot has a long and thick tongue. Earlier some people believed that this enables these birds to speak like human beings. But this is not true. We know that hawks and eagles also have long and thick tongues but they cannot imitate human voice. On the contrary, mynah, without having such tongue, is able to imitate our speech. Parrot and mynah are more intelligent than other birds and thus can copy the human voice. Their speech and hearing mechanism are slow. As a result, the sounds coming out of their mouth resemble that of human beings. It is interesting to note that parrot and mynah themselves do not understand what they speak. They are able to imitate human voice by noticing our lip movements. A female parrot named ‘prudle‘, now in the care of lris Frost of East Sussex, won the ‘Best talking parrot-like bird’ title of the National Cage and Advisory Bird Show in London for 12 consecutive years (1965-1976). This bird from Uganda was captured in 1958 from a nest. It knows a vocabulary of nearly 800 words. There are about 320 species of the parrots known to man. Most of these are green in colour. Their beaks are sharply pointed and are red in colour. Their length varies from 15 centimetres to 90 centimetres. Macaw, a long tailed parrot found in South America, is 90 centimetres long. They can live up to the age of 50 years if they are properly cared for. The females of all species of parrots lay white eggs. Did you know that the parrot is a carrier of the virus causing a disease called psittacosis?