Sunday Stills: A Pandemonium of Parrots

I wrote a post about our wild urban parrots several years ago. They are noisy, messy… and wonderful. Every time I hear their faint squawks in the distance, my ears perk up and I begin to scan the sky. If I’m lucky, I will soon witness their emerald and scarlet plumes flash above me. As quickly as they come, they are gone.

My encounters with these exotic creatures had always been from a distance—either they were streaking across the sky or a flock would land in a tall tree where I could hear—but not see—them frolicking among the branches.

Then one day last June, a flock of parrots came for a visit nearby… and they stayed and stayed. Our house is on a hill and the top of the palm tree they landed on that day is at eye level with our back deck. When my husband alerted me to their presence, I wasted no time in grabbing my camera. I had no idea how long they would be there but I knew that I had a unique opportunity to capture their magnificence for however long they lingered; squawking and preening, and enjoying themselves in the sun.

Even though Southern California isn’t their natural habitat, they seem to have made themselves quite at home. There are at least 11 species of wild parrots and various theories to explain how they got here. Whatever their history, these parrots are thriving in our mild climate that provides them with plentiful food sources.

Anytime they want to visit my neighbor’s palm tree again, they are most welcome. I’ll have my camera ready.     

This week’s theme for Terri Webster Schrandt’s Sunday Stills photo prompt is Feeding the Birds. See Terri’s photographs on her blog, Second Wind Leisure. If you have some favorite bird images, please join in!

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

107 thoughts on “Sunday Stills: A Pandemonium of Parrots”

  1. What a treat! Decades ago when my husband and bought our house in Silicon Valley there was a small group of parrots that would fly into the tall tree across the street every evening. I loved hearing them and seeing them, but never got a photo of them, unfortunately. Then one day they didn’t come back. I always wondered where they went?

    I hope those keep coming back for a good long while for your to see and enjoy.

    1. It always amazed me that wild parrots were thriving in the Bay Area (did you ever see the movie, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill?). At least where we are, it’s warmer during the winter. My fingers are crossed that our neighbor’s palm tree will soon be full of noise and color again.

      1. I haven’t seen the movie, but I have seen and photographed those parrots! I did wonder if the little group of 3 that were visiting my neighbors tree found that group up there? It would be cool if they did. 😀

        I’ll keep my fingers crossed too!

  2. Not just any random bird, Janis, but parrots, no less! They are spectacular and I would dreamily watch them all day long if I had them in my tree. I used to gaze out my window while working at my hummers. Your images are sharp and clear and you captured their personalities! Great to see your post today!

  3. Hi, Janis – I remember your original Wild Parrot post. (I was totally jealous!) This means that I have been officially been following you for 5 years (as you know, you were the first blogger whom I ever followed).
    It’s cool that it’s a mystery where your Parrots came from. We have a similar situation here with rabbits. No rabbits are indigenous to Vancouver Island, but when you come here you will see a TON of them. (Domestic rabbits were introduced in the wild here in the early 1900s). Like your parrots, some residents love these newcomers. Others not so much!!
    Great post.

    1. I’d take parrots over rabbits any day… unfortunately, we have wild, garden-eating rabbits too. I’ve heard a lot of different theories and probably several of them are true since we have a variety of parrot species here in Southern California.

  4. Now, that’s a visitor. S/he comes all dressed for an outing, stays awhile and allows photos. I can imagine your pulse quickened while you went to get the camera, and I can assure you I certainly smiled at your great shots.

  5. You had me at the title. A pandemonium – it’s such a fabulous word. There are lorikeets that nest in the Norfolk Pines that line the beach at Mooloolaba and every morning at first light the squawking is so loud as they wake and then again when they all come back in to roost at sunset.

      1. Lol they’re at the beach so a tad far away to wake me – I get the kookaburras at first light – although these days have to rely on the 4.30 alarm as it’s too dark even for the kookas.

    1. They are such a treat. Some people don’t like them (they are noisy and can be messy), but I love them. I read that, even though they aren’t from here, they – at least for now – haven’t had a negative impact on our indigenous flora and fauna.

  6. Amazing photos, Janis! These parrots are looking right at us and I do wonder what they are thinking. You captured their vibrant emerald and scarlet colours. Interesting how they paid a visit here, obviously feeling safe for many reasons. A good reminder to have our cameras close by. Thank you for sharing a fun and beautiful post.

  7. Wonderful! I’ve loved them ever since I saw The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill — a wonderful documentary, not just on the flock in SF but also on a semi-homeless man who cared for them and studied them.

    We have the regular backyard birds for New England — plus bears at the feeders if we forget to bring them in…. But we also get lots of various kinds of woodpeckers, from little ones to enormous ones, all with a splash of bright red, and grosbeaks, which have great blocks of color. Still not as exciting as wild parrots! Your photos are wonderful.

  8. Beautiful photos of colourful birds, Janis. If you teach them to say “hello Janis”, you may have a family of parrots greet you every time they see you 🙂 #SundayStills

  9. Janis, these are amazing birds. We never saw anything remotely as colorful in Central CA. I’m almost embarrassed to share my bird pictures because they are so drab. 🙂 Gorgeous shots!

      1. Yes, my tags are working!!! 🙂 I was so thrilled. Otherwise you would have seen ducks with their heads (the only colorful part of them) under water. LOL

    1. Hi Sue. I’m not sure why your comments are going into my spam jail but hopefully, now that I’ve released two of them on good behavior, that won’t happen again. You are so lucky to have those beautiful birds as regular visitors. I mostly just hear our from a distance as they go streaking by.

  10. They are beautiful. One summer we had a parakeet visit our feed. They are not hardy in our climate and most likely was a pet that got out. I tried to catch it to get it back to it’s owner but without knowing how it interacts with people, I wasn’t successful. It must be lovely to have them locally.

  11. When I see photos of wild parrots I think of southern Florida, not California. Obviously I need to get over that idea. They are pretty birds. Those colors…

  12. How exciting, Janis! My sister has 3 huge parrots and they are beautiful and unique with their different personalities. They squawk a lot, though, and she and her family have learned to tune them out over the decades. But whenever I stay with her, I still get a headache. 🙂 But they are fascinating and I’d love to see some on our trees around here, too. Thanks for sharing!

  13. The parrots are fun, aren’t they? When we were in San Diego a few years back, there were a lot of them near where we were staying in Ocean Beach. It added an exotic touch to our winter treat of sun and ocean. Ready for the pandemic to really settle down—I’m overdue for an ocean visit!

    1. You are right, there are several flocks in the Ocean Beach area. I don’t know if the flocks around our area are part of those (we aren’t far away), or maybe they are separate. Hopefully everything will be back to “normal” soon and you’ll get to take that beach vacation again!

  14. Brilliant photos, Janis! What an unexpected and close-up encounter for you and your camera. Your parrots look like the cherry-headed conures made famous in the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill movie. A few years ago, after climbing the Greenwich Street steps up to Coit Tower, we were rewarded with a squawking 50 parrot fly-over. While staying in Malaga, Spain in March 2019, we observed an absolute invasion of all-green monk parrots throughout the city. As long as you can handle the noise, wild parrots are truly radiant and a joy to see.

    1. I love those fly-overs! You start to hear the squawking in the distance, then they appear like a flash. There is so much joy in everything they do. That must have been an amazing sight to see all those parrots in Malaga… hopefully you were wearing a hat 🙂

  15. Birds are a lovely time-waster, and you’re right Janis; they do give a sense of enjoying life. We don’t have parrots here in the Bay of Plenty, having said that there has been the odd sighting of a Rosella from Australia who’s made their home here. Our native parrot is the Kea which resides in the South Island [lower end].

      1. To be honest Janis there is no need to buy expensive photography equipment. Some of what I think are my best shots were done with my mobile phone camera – it has the same capacity as many cameras and far more convenient with no neck strain 🙂

  16. Oh do I know these parrots! LOL! Up close and personal. They are continually nearby, and love my neighbor’s Sycamore tree. We had the oddest occurrence twice this past year. They swarmed and swooped through the neighborhood quite late at night, and with the squawking en masse at 11 PM, it was rather spooky, to be honest. The first time I was afraid they sensed an earthquake. I love that you have such great photos of them. So many people complain about these noisy nuisances, but I must admit I rather like them.

    1. It’s hard to get annoyed when they are having so much fun! Sort of like when kids are playing outside and all you can hear is their loud screaming and laughter. Interesting that the flock in your area would have been out well past sundown. I think I would have had a similar reaction to you… do they know something we don’t?

  17. WOW – such fun. You captured great photos of the parrots. I’d love to see a flock like that, I’d grab my camera too! They’re much more colorful than the Canadian Geese we’ve been seeing in our neck of the woods. Thanks for sharing the photos, I’m smiling thinking about the warmth you enjoy in your weather and the bright colors you get to see there.

  18. Really cool shots, Janis. I can’t believe they’re right in your yard like that. When we visited friends in Miami Beach a few years ago, we were treated to wild parrots right outside their condo windows. It seems the erstwhile “Parrot Jungle” (now called “Jungle Island”) lost a great deal (all?) of their parrots during one of the hurricanes, and now those parrots are out in the wild. But apparently they didn’t go too far. – Marty

    1. Hopefully our parrots (and us too) won’t have to worry about hurricanes… but then who expected a polar vortex in Texas 🙂 I wish our parrots made regular visits to the palm tree but I haven’t seen them there since that day. Every time I hear their squawks, I look out and hope they’ll stop by.

    1. This is the third legit comment I’ve found in my spam jail… sorry it took me so long to spring it loose. I have no idea why you thought I lived in Albuquerque. I’ve passed through there (and, of course loved Breaking Bad), but that’s about all. 🙂

      1. Weird. That’s the second time in recent days a blogger has had to, as you put it so wonderfully, spring my comment loose from the spam folder. I must be tainted, somehow. WordPress!!

  19. Janis, I had no idea that you had wild parrots in Southern California. How amazing! Great that you had your camera handy.


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