Wild Parrots of Southern California: Red-Crowned Parrots
My Photos and Sightings of Parrots in Orange County
Meet my noisy neighbors: wild Mexican red-crowned parrots living in Orange County!
In 2008, I noticed a flock of green parrots squawking in a park next door. They left in June, but a pair returned the next spring. When they returned yet again in 2010, I decided to learn more about them.
It turns out they're red-crowned parrots, aka Mexican green-cheeked parrots, a highly endangered species. Imported through the illegal exotic bird smuggling trade, escapees have formed feral parrot populations in California (as well as Texas and Florida).
The California Parrot Project asks for us to report parrot sightings (see link at bottom of page). I originally created this page to share photos, videos and information on my red-crowned parrots.
My Friends the Parrots
Illegal Aliens, or Survivors?
Here is my first fuzzy photo of a parrot on May 11, 2009.
It's often called the Amazon red-crowned parrot, but it's actually native to Mexico, not South America.
Since they've been listed as "endangered or threatened" by the U.S. Fish & Game service, it's illegal to catch or shoot them. The U.S. also bans importation of most wild-caught birds as pets.
Note: The better photos are farther down this page, after I got a new camera in 2012.
Photos of My Red-Crowned Parrots - Species: Amazona viridigenalisClick thumbnail to view full-size
About Red-Crowned Parrots - aka Mexican green-cheeked parrot
My Parrots Are Back - With a Kid? (May 2012)
(May 2012) Sure enough, starting in February, they've been waking me up in the morning and stopping by at sunset to roost in eucalyptus trees, munch on coral trees or jacaranda trees.
At times last year I started seeing three, and now there's definitely three. I assume the third is junior.
Better Photos of Wild Parrots, 2012Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kids: "They're not pirates, they're parrots!"
The quality of this video isn't great, but I wanted to document their squawks and feeding behavior. The kids playing in the park add lively commentary!
Junior birdwatchers observing red-crowned parrots
February 2013: New Parrot Sightings - Yep, they're back
1st Feb 2013: My noisy parrots have been gone all winter, but last week I started hearing them again at morning and sunset, as usual. However, this year, there are FOUR. It appears that junior has brought home a mate.
They hopped from sycamores (bare trees) to jacarandas to eucalyptus trees, irritated by me and other people watching them this evening (4:45 PM, around sunset).
Feb 2nd, 7AM: What brings my parrots back each year? Mystery solved! There's a few coral trees in the vicinity, and they've just started blooming. When the squawk chorus woke me up this morning at dawn, I came out to find Mr. and Mr. Parrot eating coral tree petals.
Junior (?) and spouse were about half a block away. I spotted them flying, also perching atop some very tall cyprus trees in a neighbor's yard. The two pairs were keeping in contact with squawks.
I also recorded a quick video (Feb 1st) to record their calls. I'm still trying to capture that odd rising beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep noise that they make occasionally:
Squawk squawk squawk. They make great alarm clocks.
Best Wild Parrot Photos So Far
FINALLY got some photos of the parrots in better lighting. Some of these are from Feb 2013, some from May 2014.
They become restless and fly off if I watch them for very long, so I generally content myself with listening to them from afar instead of stepping outside to take pictures.
Red-Crowned Parrots Feb 2013-2014Click thumbnail to view full-size
Green-Cheeked Parrot Photos/Videos By Others
Well, that's quite enough of my own mediocre photos, eh? Below are some other people's better videos of these lovable parrots. The first video gives you a lovely view of this magnificent bird, while the second treats you to the dawn chorus.
Video: Red-Crowned Parrot Feeding - From parrots.org
parrots.org provides a better video than I can of this species of parrot:
Video: Red-Crowned Parrot Munching Jacarandas
There's a lot of jacarandas in the park, and I've seen them munching flowers in past years.
Links: Wild Parrots in California and the U.S.
- The California Parrot Project - REPORT SIGHTINGS HERE!
California Parrot Project Website -- Researching Naturalized Parrots in California
- The Wild Parrots of Southern California - "Amazornia"
Page on the wild parrots of California with lots of gorgeous photos, debunking various urban legends about how they got here.
- "The Wild Parrots of Irena Street"
A Redondo Beach resident shares her encounters with parrots and provides information and photos on several species of parrots and parakeets in Southern California.
- Red-Crowned Parrots in Florida
Brief page detailing behavior and sightings history of red-crowned parrots in Florida.
- Red-Crowned Parrots in Texas
Detailed, excellent guide to red-crowned parrots on the Texas border with Mexico. Includes exactly where they're found, behavior, photos and more.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: Book or Film
Judy Irvine's award-winning documentary, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," showcases Bohemian Mark Bittner's fascinating interactions with individual, personable parrots in San Francisco. Available on DVD or instant video. The film is based on Bittner's book: The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Love Story . . . with Wings.
Have you seen any feral parrots in California? Leave a note in my guestbook. Don't forget to report your sightings to the California Parrot Project!
NOTE: The Parrot Project warned me that we shouldn't post detailed sightings reports online. Unfortunately, poachers may use them to capture the parrots and/or raid their nests for babies! Ugh.