Are Wild Parrots Roosting in Your Backyard?

Join the annual World Parrot Count to help conserve the birds.

South Pas Patch Editor's Note: Eagle Rock Patch Editor Ajay Singh wrote this story from an Eagle Rock perspective, but I've been at SPUSD meetings this winter when the board members had to speak louder to drown out the parrot squawks. South Pas is a traditional roosting area for parrots. In the comments below, tell us your experiences with the parrots!

The parrots are back.

After months of not hearing the pesky birds, Eagle Rock writer Andrew Hindes was recently surprised to see them around his house.

“They have returned en masse in the past few weeks, although the frequency has tapered off in the last few days,” he said. “So far, I’ve noticed them circling and swarming—and making quite a racket—rather than roosting in trees on our property.”

Not far from where Hindes lives on Highland View Avenue, Eagle Rock resident Tim O’Brien reports a similar experience.

“For about the past three weeks, there has been a flock of about 20 parrots that makes two or three ‘passes’ over our house in the mornings between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and then again at dusk,” O’Brien said.

The birds, he added, engage in “a great deal of squawking and fly in formation, swooping this way and that, alight in a tree for a few minutes and then continue their noisy journey on to points unknown.”

As was the case almost exactly a year ago, parrots are roosting—or flocking together—in relatively large numbers once again in Eagle Rock.

“I saw them this morning for the first time,” wrote Julia Salazar, director of the , in a Wednesday email to Eagle Rock Patch. “Strange sight. They seem to have flown away.”

Winter Roosters

During the fall and winter months, parrots tend to roost more than at any other time of the year, said Kimball Garrett, a birder who founded the California Parrot Project in 1994 and runs the ornithology collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.

“During the warmer breeding season, the birds are a little more scattered, so you’d expect large roosts at this time,” explained Garrett. Although large numbers of parrots can gather into roosts year around, “the numbers involved tend to be a little higher in late fall and winter, and a little bit lower in spring and summer when they scatter around a bit more for nesting season.”

The traditional roosting areas for wild parrots are Temple City, South Pasadena and Altadena. “I don’t know of any big roosts closer to Eagle Rock,”  Garrett said.

But why do parrots appear to be so extravagantly visible, not to mention voluble, for a few minutes, days or weeks and then suddenly all but vanish?

“That’s what parrots do,” said Garrett. “They’re really good and finding and exploiting food resources that are kind of ephemeral—they might have fruit or some kind of seeds for just a few weeks and they find ’em and eat ’em all and then move on to somewhere else.”

Added Garrett: “It’s hard to predict exactly where that will take them—and when—but they certainly are good at moving around a lot.”

World Parrot Count

The constant movement can be challenge for ornithologists interested in knowing how many wild parrots there are in a particular urban area. And that’s why the winter months are usually a good time to count parrots—as a Europe-based group called City Parrots is doing right now for conservation purposes, with help from volunteers.

Click here to read instructions fro City Parrots on how to count wild parrots in your neighborhood and submit the results to the organization online.

Affiliated with the International Ornithologists Union, City Parrots is mainly devoted to monitoring parrots that have been introduced to urban areas and are not native to them, especially in the Northern Hemisphere.

None of the three major species of parrots found in and around Eagle Rock, including Mount Washington, are native to Southern California, according to Garrett. (They include Red-crowned Parrots native to Eastern Mexico; Yellow-chevroned Parakeets native to South America; and Mitred Parakeets, also native to South America.)

There are currently no large-scale local attempts to conduct parrot counts in Southern California, Garrett said, adding: “Some years we try to do that, but nothing’s been really organized for this year.”

Christmas Bird Count

The closest thing to a local parrot count is the Christmas Bird Count conducted annually for the past 65 years by the Pasadena Audubon Society.

The exercise occurs within a 15-mile diameter centered at the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Duarte Road in Pasadena, which lies roughly five miles east of the Eagle Rock border. The latest Christmas Bird Count was on Dec. 15 last year.

“I haven't totaled the results yet, but we typically record hundreds of Red-crowned Parrots, fair numbers of Mitred and Red-masked Parakeets and Yellow-chevroned Parakeets as well as smaller numbers of at least a half dozen other species of parrots and parakeets,” said Jon Fisher, head of the Pasadena Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count.

In 2011, the Christmas Bird Count recorded 10 different species of wild parrots, totalling 1,360 birds. The largest majority? Red-crowned Parrots—no less than 1,129 of them. Next in ranking were Yellow-chevroned Parakeets (140), followed by Mitred Parakeets (32).

Although the Christmas Bird Count circle extends southwest to Scholl Canyon and Occidental College, those areas were not covered in 2012, Fisher said.

spidra January 11, 2013 at 07:43 PM
I'm with S. Ray. They're descendants of escaped pets and don't belong here. They should be rounded up, checked for disease, and sent to their native habitats. Many are actually a bit endangered in their native habitats so it would be a good way to reinvigorate numbers in the places they belong.
Shelley Garza January 11, 2013 at 11:40 PM
The conures live up to 30 years. They eat non native plants and don't compete with natives. Why don't we round up all the sparrows that do compete with the natives? I say enjoy these beautiful and intelligent creatures. To educate yourself on them see the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Sure they are loud but they are special.
Onyx Joanne Henneke January 12, 2013 at 03:33 AM
You'll never be able to round them all up at this point. I've lived in S. Pasadena, San Gabriel, Glendale, and Long Beach and everywhere I've lived has had some kind of parrot population.
Toni Schwab January 12, 2013 at 04:18 AM
The parrots were on Wayne Ave. last week as well as Camben Avenue and Oak. They love the fruits and berries from all the trees in the neighborhood. This past summer they enjoyed the figs in my neighbors yard behind my house. I usually see them in the 30's to 50's count.
Elias Baldwin January 14, 2013 at 12:26 AM
So these birds are more special than other birds because they're green? I'm very into nature, plants, gardening... everything outdoors, however I don't get why people fawn over these things. They roost over my house daily in the tall palms and on the power lines that run down our alley. The noise level is insane and sometimes disruptive, my main objection is how much crapping they do on my vehicles and my walk, it's just gross and a nuisance. Also, these things are everywhere, when I lived in Hollywood there were just as many if not more that would roost in the trees on my property.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »