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Small Animal Medicine & Surgery
Call us today! 704-636-6613
Call us today! 704-636-6613

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Salisbury, NC 28147

Fun Facts About Birds

March 1 2024

Did you know that birds are America’s fourth favorite pet? Fido and Fluffy take the top two slots, of course, with fish taking third place. There are more than 7.5 million pet birds here in the U.S., according to numbers from the American Veterinary Medical Association. Read on as a local Salisbury, NC vet offers some information about Man’s Fourth Best Friend.

They Range In Size

The smallest bird, as you may know, is the hummingbird. These tiny, charming little guys can fly backward, and can even hover in place. Their eggs are only about the size of a jellybean!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Kakapo parrot of New Zealand, a colorful bird with a sweet, slightly confused expression. These massive birds can weigh more than seven pounds. The Kakapo doesn’t fly, which has rendered them very vulnerable to habitat loss and other threats, such as predators. New Zealand was once home to many flightless birds, who then became easy targets for cats, weasels, and other animals brought by traders. Though once endangered, the Kakapo seems to be poised for a comeback. Fingers crossed! 

The Kakapo isn’t the world’s biggest bird: that would be the ostrich. With a weight of about 220–350 pounds (100–160 kg), these guys can reach a height of up to 9 feet (2.7 meters).


Pigeons are often considered a nuisance these days. However, these gentle birds are actually quite extraordinary. Not only are they able to find their way home from incredible distances, they also have several other unique and fascinating traits.

  • Pigeon racing is still a thing! These birds are fast enough to make races worthwhile for audiences.
  • Baby pigeons stay in the nest for up to six weeks, much longer than most birds do.
  • Pigeons do well in cities because they like concrete and stone.
  • There may be over 1 million pigeons in New York City alone.
  • They may have been the first birds humans domesticated. They appear in Mesopotamian art dating back to 4500 BCE.
  • They were extremely helpful in war. Pigeons were often used to send messages back and forth. They have actually been credited with saving thousands of lives.
  • They were used to send SOS signals from sinking ships. Pigeons were extremely adept at this.
  • They have great vision. They can even see ultraviolet light, which helped them spot survivors of capsized or sunken ships.


A bird named Charlie has become part of local folklore at Heathfield Nurseries in Surrey, England. The blue-and-gold Macaw reportedly hatched back in 1899. According to legend, Charlie was once owned by none other than Winston Churchill, who supposedly taught her to curse Nazis, specifically Hitler. This may just be rumor: Churchill’s descendants refute this claim, and Charlie hasn’t cleared it up. Regardless, the bird is still happy and healthy and being well taken care of, and has, at the very least, lived a remarkably long life.

Smart Bird

A Budgie named Puck made some jaws drop with her intelligence. The little ball of feathers learned a whopping 1728 words, earning herself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. 

Polly Became Popular During The Pandemic

There was a bit of a silver lining to the pandemic, at least where pets were concerned. Many people adopted pets during quarantine. Our animal companions were also thrilled to have their humans home more often. Birds got a bit of a popularity boost during the lockdowns, as ownership increased. 


While we mainly focus on pet birds, we’re also quite fascinated by wild ones. Corvids are particularly interesting. These guys may very well be among the smartest animals in the world! They mate for life and hold funerals for their dead. They’ve also been known to determine whether specific people are friends or foes, and then tell all their friends! 

Paint Job

Here’s something you likely didn’t know: Blue jays have a habit of hoarding paint chips. They prefer lighter tones. This isn’t a random  habit: it’s actually the calcium content in the paint that they are after. Paint often contains limestone, which is a good source of calcium.

Volume Knob

Ever wonder what the world’s largest bird is? That would be the white bellbird. This pretty bird lives in the Amazon rain forest and attracts mates by sounding like a fire alarm. That’s close to the average rock concert. However, many pet birds also go up to 11. For instance, the Moluccan Cockatoo can top 135 decibels. 

They Have Very Devoted Fans

To be fair, all of our animal friends have loyal fans. Bird people, however, tend to be extremely attentive and devoted to their pets. 

  • Most households with birds have an average of 2.46 birds.
  • Loving homes: One in five bird owners said their pets were on special diets. In comparison, only one in ten pet dogs and cats are. Bird owners were also more likely to give their pets supplements.
  • Nearly 60 percent of bird owners reported that they had been spending more on Polly over the past year.

Be sure to ask your Salisbury, NC vet about bird care tips!

Polly Loves To Dance

Have you ever watched videos of pet birds happily dancing to their favorite songs? Some of our feathered friends really love to boogie down! Cockatoos, for example, are notorious for getting their groove on. This really just makes sense. After all, birdsong is nature’s original music. 

Music In The Sky

Have you ever seen a flock of swallows moving in synchronicity, twisting and turning as though in a dance? This is called a murmuration. Scientists theorize that birds do this to confuse predators, as the graceful movements make it hard for them to pick out any individual birds. Even more astonishing? BIrds may be responding to a sort of biological radio, which allows them to form patterns. Each bird communicates with the birds nearest them, which in turn lets the flock move as one. 

Feathered Friends

Birds are the only animals that have feathers. However, not all birds have feathers on their heads. Vultures, marabou storks, and ostriches are bald.


Parrots compromise the psittacine order. They are also called hookbills, because of their curved beaks. While all birds are interesting in their own ways, parrots are truly fascinating. They vary greatly in size, color, and longevity, and can be, well, a bit extra. These vivacious, colorful birds have been in our hearts—and on our shoulders—for thousands of years. In fact, Alexander the Great brought some back from the Indian subcontinent! A few hundred years later, the ancient Romans had started teaching Polly Latin.

Here are a few facts about parrots:

  • They’re very smart. One parrot, an African grey named Alex, was reported to have an intelligence roughly equal to that of a 5-year-old human child. (His last words to his owner were: “You be good. I love you.”)
  • Some parrots use tools. Studies by the University of York and the University of St. Andrews monitored Greater Vasa parrots using pit dates and pebbles to crush cockleshells.
  • They’re zygodactylous. Most birds, including parrots, have four toes on each foot. Parrots’ feet are a bit different though: they have two forward-pointing toes, and two backward-pointing ones. This makes it easier for them to hold food.
  • Their beaks can crack the hardest nuts in the world.
  • The smallest parrot is the itty-bitty Pygmy parrot. Only 3 inches long, the Pygmy is also unusual in that, unlike other parrots, they eat mushrooms rather than insects.
  • Researchers from Northeastern University, the University of Glasgow, and MIT conducted an experiment, and taught parrots to video chat with each other. Most of the birds quite enjoyed the experience!
  • They can live longer than people. While smaller parrots, such as parakeets, may only live ten to twenty years, large ones, such as Macaws, can live 100 years or even longer. This is definitely something to consider before adopting one.
  • Nearly one in three parrot species are facing extinction. 
  • Logging has destroyed as much as 99 percent of the native population of African grey parrots in Ghana.

Polly Loves To Dance

Have you ever watched videos of pet birds happily dancing to their favorite songs? Some birds love to boogie down. Cockatoos, for example, are notorious for getting their groove on. This really just makes sense. After all, bird song is nature’s original music. 

Do you have questions about bird care? Contact us, your local Salisbury, NC pet hospital, anytime! 

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