A Lovebird is one of nine species of the genus Agapornis (Greek: αγάπη agape 'love'; όρνις ornis 'bird'). They are a social and affectionate small parrot. Eight species are native to the African continent, while the Grey-headed Lovebird is native to Madagascar. Their name stems from the parrots' strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods in which paired birds will spend sitting together. Lovebirds live in small flocks and eat fruit, vegetables, grasses and seed. Black-winged Lovebirds also eat insects and figs, and the Black-collared Lovebirds have a special dietary requirement for native figs, making them problematic to keep in captivity.
Some species are kept as pets, and several color mutations were selectively bred in aviculture. Their average lifespan is 10 to 15 years.
Lovebirds are 13 to 17 centimeters in length and from 40 to 60 grams in weight. They are among the smallest parrots, characterized by a stocky build, a short blunt tail, and a relatively large, sharp beak. Wildtype lovebirds are mostly green with a variety of colors on their upper body, depending on the species. The Fischer's Lovebird, Black-cheeked Lovebird, and the Masked Lovebird have a prominent white ring around their eyes. The Abyssinian Lovebird, the Madagascar Lovebird, and the Red-faced Lovebird are sexually dimorphic. Many colour mutant varieties have been produced by selective breeding of the species that are popular in aviculture.
A cockatoo is any of the 21 species belonging to the bird family Cacatuidae. Along with the Psittacidae (the true parrots) and the Strigopidae (the large New Zealand parrots), they make up the parrot order Psittaciformes. Placement of the cockatoos as a separate family is fairly undisputed, although many aspects of the other living lineages of parrots are unresolved. The family has a mainly Australasian distribution, ranging from the Philippines and the eastern Indonesian islands of Wallacea to New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Australia. The name cockatoo originated from the Malay name for these birds, kaka(k)tua (either from kaka "parrot" + tuwah, or "older sister" from kakak "sister" + tua "old").
Cockatoos are instantly recognisable by their showy crests and curved bills. On average they are larger than other parrots; however, the Cockatiel, the smallest cockatoo species, is a small bird. Their plumage is generally less colourful than that of other parrots, being mainly white, grey, or black, and often with coloured features in the crest, cheeks, or tail. The genus Cacatua comprises 11 species of white plumaged cockatoos, including the corellas, a group of smaller cockatoos. Closely related to them are the pink and grey Galah and the pink and white Major Mitchell's Cockatoo. The five species of the genus Calyptorhynchus are large black coloured cockatoos. The remaining three species—the large black-plumaged Palm Cockatoo, the mainly grey Gang-gang Cockatoo, and the small mainly grey Cockatiel—are related to the other cockatoos through early and unclear evolutionary branches.
The cockatoos were first defined as a subfamily Cacatuinae within the parrot family Psittacidae by the English naturalist George Robert Gray in 1840, with Cacatua the first listed and type genus. This group has alternately been considered as either a full or subfamily by different authorities. The American ornithologist James Lee Peters in his 1937 Check-list of Birds of the World, and Sibley and Monroe in 1990 maintained it as a subfamily, while parrot expert Joseph Forshaw classified it as a family in 1973. Subsequent molecular studies indicate that the earliest offshoot from the original parrot ancestors were the New Zealand parrots of the family Strigopidae, and following this the cockatoos, now a well-defined group or clade, split off from the remaining parrots, which then radiated across the southern hemisphere and diversified into the many species of parrots, parakeets, macaws, lories, lorikeets, lovebirds, and other true parrots of the family Psittacidae. The relationships between individual cockatoo species are not yet fully understood, and available data do not support subdividing the family into subfamilies. In particular, the placement of the Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum) and Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) have been difficult. Australian farmer and amateur ornithologist John Courtney observed in 1996 that, unlike other cockatoos, the juveniles of these two species bobbed their heads more like parrot species when begging for food. American researchers David M. Brown and Catherine A. Toft sequenced and compared mitochondrial DNA in 1999, and found both species to be more closely related to the black cockatoo genus Calyptorhynchus than to white cockatoos. This contrasted with Australian ornithologist Richard Schodde's placement of the Gang-gang in a proposed subfamily Cacatuinae with the white cockatoos, and researcher Dwi Astuti's analysis of a segment of β-fibrinogen gene within cockatoo DNA, which also placed the Gang-gang there.
The bee-eaters are a group of near-passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa and Asia but others occur in southern Europe, Australia, and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies, and usually elongated central tail feathers. All have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar. There are 26 different species of bee-eaters.
As the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat flying insects, especially bees and wasps, which are caught in the air by sallies from an open perch. While they pursue any type of flying insect, honey bees predominate in their diet. Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps) comprise from 20% to 96% of all insects eaten, with honey bees comprising approximately one-third of the Hymenoptera.
Before eating its meal, a bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting and rubbing the insect on a hard surface. During this process, pressure is applied to the insect thereby extracting most of the venom. Notably, the birds only catch prey that are on the wing and ignore flying insects once they land.
The bee-eaters have an Old World distribution, occurring from Europe to Australia. The centre of diversity of the family is Africa, although a number of species also occur in Asia. A single species occurs in Europe, the European Bee-eater and Australia, the Rainbow Bee-eater; and there is one Madagascar species, the Olive Bee-eater (also found on mainland Africa). Of the three genera, Merops, which has the majority of the species in the family, occurs across the entirely of the family's distribution. Nyctyornis is restricted to Asia, ranging from India and southern China to the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. The genus Meropogon, has a single species restricted to Sulawesi in Indonesia. Bee-eaters are fairly catholic in their habitat. Their requirements are a simply an elevated perch from which to watch for prey and a ground substrate in which to dig their breeding burrow. Because their prey is entirely caught on the wing they are not dependent on any vegetation type. A single species is found inside closed rainforest, the Blue-headed Bee-eater, where it forages close to the ground in poor light in the gaps between large trees under the canopy. Six other species are also closely associated with rainforest, but do so in edge habitat in this environment; along rivers, in tree-fall gaps, off trees overhanging ravines or on emergent crowns above the main canopy.