Green Parrots of San Diego
Wild Parrots of San Diego
"You call it wild, but it wasn't really wild, it was free. Animals aren't wild, they're just free."
- Native American quote -
Urban myths are funny things. They can be true, but usually they are not.For 25-30 years, there's been a rumor flying around San Diego. We'll go out on a limb in saying that many locals have parroted the rumor. Most San Diegans and visitors, alike, don't know about this San Diego urban myth.
In San Diego's older neighborhoods of Ocean Beach, Pt. Loma, Pacific Beach, Banker's Hill, El Cajon and Lakeside, there, amongst the trees, dwell flocks of wild green parrots or Red-Crowned Amazon Parrots. There are a few other names for them including: Amazona viridigenalis, Green-Cheeked Amazon and Mexican Red-Headed Parrot. These parrots are no bird brains and know paradise when they fly over it. San Diego has one of the largest populations of these playful birds.
Come early morning or evening, if you live nearby or walking through these neighborhoods, you'll know when these loud, screeching birds perform a flyover. Traveling always in a flock or a "pandemonium," the noisy creatures have a very distinguishable vocalization pattern. We've heard our winged friends race by overhead with their boisterous chatter and we've watched them land in the eucalyptus or palm trees at Park Blvd. and Upas, and at 6th Avenue and Upas during their daily flyby's.
Far from their original homes in the native tropical lowlands of Mexico, these flocks have been found in parts of Los Angeles, San Bernardino Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Orange County, San Diego County as well as other areas in the United States.
How'd they get to San Diego? Legend has it that decades ago, the birds were released by a pet store or by an individual. The truth is not completely clear, but a little birdie told us that most bird experts tend to believe that once upon a time, some pets unwittingly flew the coop or escaped. Essentially, they became free birds.
Some of us love to hear the raucous flock sail through the air, but they have ruffled some feathers. There are some people who aren't wild about these birds, contending that the parrots are obnoxious and are a loud nuisance. We'll give 'em that. The green parrots are not as graceful and poised as the hummingbird. But, it's probably a rare bird who can't find joy in seeing these parrots preening on the telephone lines, high on the tree limbs, or seeing the flock soaring above the city streets below.
What's all the squawking about? The parrots are very social. They use their calls to communicate with each other, to head off looming danger from falcons and other predatory birds, and they use their vocalizations to burst onto the scene like your favorite old aunt making her way through the front door. The parrots definitely announce their arrival and departure.
The parrots are just over one-foot in length. If their vocalization doesn't catch your attention, their brilliant green feathers, green cheeks, and red forehead will. Up close, you'd see blue and red feathers under their wings with yellow tail feathers as punctuation of their beauty.
Green Parrots of San Diego
After some romantic tandem aerial displays and courtship, the green parrots become a monogamous pair. Breeding takes place between March-May. The lovebirds live together in the nest, usually in a palm tree, caring for 2-5 eggs over an incubation period of 25-31 days.
Obviously, we can't tell you with preciseness where to find these loud-mouthed neighbors. If you're interested in them, you'll have to just wing it and head to Ocean Beach or Point Loma for the best chance to catch them up in the trees. Hint: You might check out Nati's Restaurant at 1852 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach.
These wonderful green parrots were born to be wild. Though domestication has made them into fun-loving birds, there's something wonderful about watching them and hearing them being free to fly.