Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Parrots in Irvine

I didn't have my camera. But I was out with the whole family last night and we stopped at 7-11 for refreshments. My wife and oldest boy went in and I waited with my youngest in the Jeep. Next thing I know I see this woman walk out of the 24-Hour Fitness across the parking lot and she comes over near us with her mouth just gaping. She looked like she was talking to herself and I didn't see a phone or a headset. I said to my son, "What is that lady doing?" We had the music on loud so I couldn't hear anything outside. But then I looked over at the wild olive trees and I saw them. Wild parrots were munching away. I've never seen them before. Indeed, I didn't even know we had them. So checking online, the O.C. Register has this, from 2006, "Parrots prosper in Orange County":
Parrots might be gravely endangered in their native rain forests, but not in Orange County, where they've taken up residence in large flocks, attracting both love and hate from people who share their space.

There's a mystery attached to the birds' presence. No one is exactly sure how they got here. One popular theory is that their ancestors escaped from commercial bird importers, surviving because they were wild birds that knew how to forage for food. Another is simply that they migrated north from rain forests in Central and South America.

Large flocks exist in Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin and elsewhere in the county. Some flocks can number hundreds of birds. They generally eat fruit and nuts of exotic plants that, like themselves, have been imported from tropical climates.

Amazon parrots found here include endangered red-crowned parrots, lilac-crowned parrots, red-lored parrots, white-fronted parrots, yellow-headed parrots and blue-fronted parrots. They can be distinguished by stocky bodies and short, squared tails. Mitred parakeets are also common here.
More from Oscar Gonzales.

P.S. My smarty-pants oldest son comes back and I say, "Hey, check out those parrots!" And he says, "I saw them. They escaped from PETCO."

2 comments:

Norm said...

You can see green monk (aka quaker) parrots in Brooklyn, Bronx, Connecticut, all living wild. Urban legend is that they escaped from a broken box at Kennedy Airport decades ago and have adapted themselves to our cold northern evironment.

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks Norm.

That was really neat to see them. And it's fascinating to speculate how they did arrive up here, in California and New York.