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This scenario is based on the kea, the world's only alpine parrot.

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Even though it eats plants like other parrots, it also eats meat, and therefore could be New Zealand's answer to the smaller diurnal raptors like hawks or falcons. But what if predatory psittaciform birds were global?

Is the shape of the kea the ideal archetype of a predatory parrot in an alternate Earth where neither Accipitriformes nor Falconiformes exist? Or would the parrots need to have body plans identical to hawks, vultures, condors, eagles, harriers and kites to parallel their niches?

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Falcons and parrots are actually close relatives. In the absence of other birds of prey, parrots (or at least some species of parrots) would morph to more closely resemble falcons, becoming capable of faster and more agile flying and beaks adapted to hunting rather than seed cracking.

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  • $\begingroup$ So would a falcon-like parrot the size of an eagle have the same strong wings and legs as an eagle? $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Aug 29 '18 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ "Eufalconimorphae is a proposed clade of birds, consisting of passerines, Parrots, falcons, caracaras, and forest falcons." (Wikipedia) "Analysis of transposable element insertions observed in the genomes of passerines and parrots, but not in the genomes of other birds, provides strong evidence that parrots are the sister group of passerines, forming a clade Psittacopasserae, to the exclusion of the next closest group, the falcons." (Wikipedia) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 29 '18 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnWDailey there certainly would be an evolutionary pressure to do that. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 29 '18 at 20:31
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The reason that birds of prey look the way they do is due to evolution optimizing their body structure to better perform in their particular ecological niche. If you were to take a kea and try to put it into an already-existing-bird-of-prey niche, it is likely that the kea wouldn't perform as well as the original bird due to its body not being specifically selected for that particular task. Over time, as the kea adapted to the niche, it would either resemble the bird it replaced -- as that particular form was better suited for the task than the parrot form -- or it would look like a completely different bird, having optimized the form in a better fashion than the original bird. It is unlikely that the kea's parrot body structure would stick around in a wide variety of niches.

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