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The region where parrots are located at any particular time of the year is depending on what happens to be fruiting. Parrots normally feed on (as a mainstay, although they eat just about everything they can get their beaks on) and roost on Sweet Gum and Sycamore when they are available, but they are deciduous trees, which means they’re barren in the winter. Around Thanksgiving, they would be grazing on and roosting on Eucalyptus (many different kinds), Carrotwood (Cupanopsis anacardiodes, or something like that—I’m bad at remembering scientific names), fig (Ficus microcarpus—Moreton Bay Fig I guess), and other broadleaf evergreens. Parrots also regularly consume juniper and cedar fruit. Around Thanksgiving, parrots roost in flocks of HUNDREDS of individuals (more like numbers approaching or exceeding a thousand, but I claim to not be able to count that high) in, maybe, five to ten trees, which generates a lot of heat, or at least enough to keep comfy, so they really wouldn’t need the sun to thermoregulate. I have yet to verify or deny that parrots fly from Arcadia/Temple City to Pasadena/Altadena and return every day.

In the spring, you don’t see many parrots unless you are among those (unfortunates?) who chance to live near locations where parrots nest. Contrary to one of the numerous fallacies I usually hear, parrots do not nest in the highlands (there has only been one verified instance of it) (there has only been one documented report of that). Instead, they nest on trees bordering residential roadways. You may even have them nesting in your own front yard, and sometimes they may be discreet, so you’d never even know they were there.

I am really interested in hearing current information on parrot sightings. The parrots that are regularly observed include:

  • Red-crowned Parrots (Amazona viridigenalis)
  • Lilac-crowned Parrots (Amazona finschi)
  • Rose-ringed Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) (NOT “Rose-winged Parakeet”)
  • Mitred Parakeets (Aratinga mitrata) =conure
  • Red-masked Parakeets (Aratinga erythrogenys) =conure
  • Blue-crowned Parakeets (Aratinga acuticaudata) =conure
  • Canary-winged Parakeets (Brotogeris … sorry I can’t recall the rest of it)
  • Yellow-chevroned Parakeets (the other Brotogeris…)
  • Red-lored Parrots (Amazona autumnalis)
  • Blue-fronted Parrots (Amazona aestiva)
  • White-fronted Parrots (Amazona albifrons)

I have personally documented nesting and/or dependent juveniles present among Red-crowned Parrots, Lilac-crowned Parrots, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Blue-crowned Parakeets, Red-lored Parrots (only once), Blue-fronted Parrots (only once) and have seen Mitred and/or Red-masked parakeets that seemed to be nesting in several areas, but I wasn’t 100% certain and I couldn’t see them well enough to tell which it was on those occasions.

This year was an odd nesting year in that parrots began their nesting activity around February (normally they start in April/May) and are only now (July/August) completed their breeding (typically they are entirely done, everybody’s fledged, by the middle of June). The chicks in the flocks may be recognized by their clean, brilliant look, light yellow border on the wing coverts, and their begging behavior and uk-uk-uk-uk cry before, during, and after feeding and will be clearly visible until about November when they gain independence.

Wild parrots do not make excellent pets. Many parrots are out there in the first place because their owners could not tolerate them and flung them out of the closest window, despite the hundreds of dollars they spent on them. They are filthy, loud, and may spread various illnesses and parasites. I hear all of the time how people would love to capture one— it takes a special sort of person (in my opinion: one who is hard of hearing, endlessly patient, and has no fear of losing beak-sized pieces of flesh off of your hands) to put up with a parrot. I frequently hear reports of persons with tree trimming equipment breaking into nest holes and snatching babies. Destruction of nest cavities for the aim of collecting chicks is one of the reasons parrot populations are at such risk in regions where they are endemic. Cutting cavities damages the health of the tree and removes the cavity FOREVER, leaving it unusable for parrots and, more critically, for NATIVE animal species.

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