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!
First we hear a frenzied screeching in the distance. As the noise gets closer, it is more distinguishable as the riotous squawking of birds. Then, we see them. Sometimes they fly in a small group of 6 or 8, but most of the time, they are in flocks of 30 or more. They often fly together in an unorganized mass, then split apart in a raucous burst of energy because… whatever. Whether they arrive in a small group or a large one, it’s hard to ignore when a flock of urbanized parrots invades our neighborhood.
There are several theories as to why these birds, whose natural habitat are the jungles of Mexico, and Central and South America, now call coastal Southern California their home. Some say that they—or their ancestors—were probably caged birds released into the wild either accidentally or on purpose. Some say that the changing climate and decimated tropical forests are the reason. Ironically parrot species that are threatened or endangered in their native environment are flourishing here because our ubiquitous palms and backyard fruit trees provide the food and nesting habitat they need.
These naturalized parrots include blue-crowned conures, lilac-crowned Amazons, cherry-headed conures, mitred conures, red-crowned Amazons, and yellow-headed Amazons. I’m not sure which of the dozen or so naturalized parrot species frequents our neighborhood, but they are wonderfully colorful, incredibly loud, and a delight to behold.
Not everyone is as charmed as I am with the urbanized parrots – they have been known to decimate the flowers or fruits growing on ornamental trees—but I am so grateful for their presence. They are exotic, unpredictable, exuberant, and, when I hear them coming, it’s almost impossible not smile at their unbridled joy.