San Diego's Wild About Parrots!
San Diego's Little Known Bird Secret
Many people don't think of parrots when they visit San Diego. Most people probably think of pelicans, gulls, maybe a shorebird or two. But, there are at least a dozen species flying around California. Where I live in San Diego, I mostly see either red-crowned parrots and rose-ringed parakeets. There's a few other species flying around that I don't recognize. Each night, and sometimes in the morning, I see them flying past my apartment building.
I generally have reservations against non-native species. Most of them are detrimental to native wildlife. Sparrows kill other bird's babies and take over nesting cavities, for example. Parrots also use nesting cavities, but it's unknown if they are directly competing against native species by using them. The parrots I've observed tend to nest and socialize in areas where most native birds don't like or have a preference for. They also don't seem to compete with other birds for noise.
Some people have sympathy for these birds because they are so decimated in their home range. Habitat destruction as well as the pet trade has had a great impact on them. While they're declining in their home range, they seem to be thriving in California, Texas, and Florida.
Even though they're not native, I actually feel privileged being able to live in an area with wild parrots flying by without having to leave the country.
Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (A Love Story)
All Over California
You may have heard of the movie "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill". There was even a movie of the same name. The movie centered on a flock of wild red-masked parakeets in San Francisco and the man who looked after them. It's not only a story about wild parrots, it's a love story, too. You'll just have to watch the movie to find out why I say that.
I believe we also have red-masked parakeets here in San Diego, but I'm not sure. There are many different parrot populations all over California, with some species preferring a certain part of town or city over others.
They also seem to prefer different types of nesting cavities. Most of the birds I've seen like the California fan palms, but I once saw a small flock using decorative holes in a man's home for nesting. The guy who owned the home, I was told, liked the parrots. There once a large population breeding in the trees near the Adam's Humanities building at SDSU before they cut the trees down. The parrots flew around the neighborhood for months looking for a new home. I think they're now nesting in a palm grove down the road from the university
Parrot in Redondo Area
Where You Can See Them
In San Diego, the beach areas are the best place to consistently see parrots. I remember doing volunteer work for San Diego Audubon at Mission Bay and seeing a flock of red-crowned parrots flying back and forth. I've also seen them along Friar's Road near the San Diego River, Ocean Beach, Imperial Beach, El Cajon, and the College Area.
Facts About San Diego's Wild Parrots
Here are a few facts about San Diego's (and much of California's) wild parrots:
- Many species are endangered or threatened in their home range due to habitat destruction or the pet trade
- They are truly wild. Though their ancestors may have come from domestic stock (or from wild-caught birds destined for the pet trade), the flocks in San Diego were hatched and raised in the wild and are not escaped pets
- Most of the parrots species originated in Mexico and areas south of there, but a few come from Asia and other areas in the Eastern Hemisphere.
- Red-crowned parrots are considered "countable" by the American Birding Association who keeps an official list of species.
Are These Parrots Harmful to Native Birds?
Do you think they are competing or are harmful to native birds?
So-Cal Parrot's Exhibit at the Bird Fair
So-Cal Parrot's Website
- So-Cal Parrot
Find out more about So-Cal Parrot's organization and work
I once went to a bird fair and got to know this group called So Cal Parrot. They advocate for the wild parrots in southern California by educating people about them. If you ever find an injured wild parrot, you can bring them to So-Cal Parrot and they will help it.
One of the thing they heavily advocate is not keeping parrots as pets, especially wild-captured parrots. According to them, they don't make good pets for many reasons. I agree with them. Parrots are a LOT of work and need constant care and stimulation and are very intelligent. They often have temper-tantrums and can actually injure a person with their strong bills and sharp claws on their feet. They also tend to live an extremely long time. Having a parrot is a life-long commitment because parrots don't do well when they are constantly passed around to new homes.
More Links About Wild Parrots in California
Here are some more links about wild parrots living in the California area and their advocates. **More to be added at a later date***