Best Places to See Feral Parrots

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PARROTS TODAY: current situation and conflicts

 

As exotic as the colonies of bright green birds seem in the parks of Brooklyn or Chicago, the United States did once have its own native parrot, the Carolina Parakeet. The bird, which ate grain and had an unfortunate habit of going back to find its fallen parrots after they were shot, was hunted to extinction in the early 1900s.

 

Many see the new parrots living here--especially the most established and adaptable species--the Monk (or Quaker) Parrot as a replacement for those long lost birds. Biologists have re-introduced Rocky Mountain Elk into Pennsylvania to replace the extinct Eastern Elk, which had been hunted to extinction. An effort to reintroduce our other native parrot, the thick-billed parrot, from Mexico to Arizona eventually proved too difficult.

 

Theories abound about where these birds came from. The typical urban legend involves an escape from crates at an airport in the 1960s. Brooklyn parrot expert Steve Baldwin says there may be some truth to the story since mob-linked port workers would have felt entitled to take a little something from every crate that arrived. Only when they opened the parrot crate, their potential cut flew away. Other common stories included a fire at a pet shop or individual escapees or careless owners who just set the birds free.

 

The birds do surprisingly well here, with outposts across the country. They don't seem to mind the winter. Baldwin says that's because many are from cold, mountain regions. The monk parrot is the most common, but many other species have established colonies in California, Florida and Texas. Miami has lots of white-winged and yellow-chevroned parakeets all over. Tampa has black-hooded parrots.

 

The parrots biggest challenge yet living in the United States came from the USDA, which set out to exterminate the parrots as a threat to agriculture. The public, who delighted in seeing the birds, eventually shut the USDA plan down, but not before they killed off a large portion of the population. Even though the birds have been a menace to farmers in South America, here they haven't presented much trouble. Their colonies are mainly urban and suburban, not rural.

 

Utility companies are the current threat to parrots. Monk parrots build massive nests on tall poles. The problem is that tallest poles around often hold electrical transformers and the electric companies fear fires, though there haven't been many. Utility companies from Connecticut to Washington state have been taking down nests and gassing parrots.

 

Parrot advocates have found a more humane solution: building artificial nesting platforms nearby so that parrots leave the utility poles alone. The platforms have worked around Boston, but parrot advocates still have to convince utility companies and parrots around the country to give them a try.

VIEWING TIPS

They're shy. Don't try to touch them. Certainly don't try to catch them.

 

The normal rules about not feeding wild animals don't apply with the parrots, which are not really a native species. In cold climates they rely on the kindness of strangers to get through the winter. In warmer climates like San Francisco, feeding is frowned upon. Behavior varies by species, but generally they roost together at night. They like tall poles--stadium lights, utility poles. In the day they go out and forage, then all return before dark.

 

BEST PLACES TO SEE PARROTS

 

Midwest northeast Out West CA FL Hawaii TX

 

midwest Midwest - See other animals in the Midwest
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Harold Washington Park Monk Parrots, Chicago

Monk Parrot nests have been spotted all around the University of Chicago area and Jackson Park.
The parrots living in Harold Washington Park were the ones that convinced the late Mayor Washington, who used to live on the park, to give them a reprieve from state agriculture officials who wanted to exterminate them. Giant nests are easy to spot.
Hyde Park Blvd. and 53rd Street Monkparakeet.com
northeast Northeast - See other animals in the Northeast
parrot
Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Naturalist Steve Baldwin gives an entertaining tour of sites where the Monk Parrot is nesting around the New York metro area, especially near the entrance to Green-Wood Cemetery and around Brooklyn College. His site BrooklynParrots.com lists all the latest details.

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Veteran's Field Park

Edgewater, NJ--across the Hudson from NYC

Monk Parrots like in Veteran's Field Park in Edgewater, NJ. Local naturalists are struggling to protect them from utilities who want to take down their nests.
Edgewater Parrots
BrooklynParrots.com
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Greenwich Point Park, CT
A colony of monk parrots lives in Greenwich Point Park, which is along the shore.
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Fairfield University , CT

Monk Parrots live in a few places around Fairfield. Fairfield University campus is a good place to start. They like the Regina Quick Performing Arts Center parking lot--near the athletic fields and their tall lights, according to wildbirds.com. They're also seen closer to the shore, near the cemetery.
1073 North Benson Rd, Fairfield, CT
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Milford Point Stewart B. McKinney NWR, CT
Monk parrots nest at Milford Point, which is part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. Parrots live on a long stretch of the Connecticut shore.
Connecticut Audubon Society at Milford Point
1 Milford Point Rd., Milford, CT (203) 878-7440
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University of Bridgeport, CT
Parrots live around the University of Bridgeport. According to one account, they like the white pine trees outside Barnum Hall, 150 Marina Park Street.
out west The West - See other animals out West
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Seward Park, Seattle

Seattle's Seward Park has a colony of Chapman's mitred conure and scarlet-fronted conures, according to the Friends of Seward Park. The birds roost on north bluff of Pinoy Hill, but can be found in the Maple Leaf neighborhood in winter.
Seward Park, Lake Washington Blvd and Orcas Street, Seattle

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Yacolt, Washington
The Yacolt community is rallying to save a colony of quaker (or monk) parrots after Clark Public Utilities and the USDA took down their nests (which were on transformers) and euthanized several birds. The Yacolt Parrot Preservation Association had some success convincing the utility to install orange (undesirable to parrots) shields on the transformers and building tall (desirable to parrots) nest boxes in supporters yards.
CA California -- See other animals in California
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Telegraph Hill, San Francisco

A colony of wild cherry-headed parrots live on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. Stars of the 2005 movie Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill and book by the same name.
Telegraph Hill is off Lombard Street near Kearny Street.
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San Francisco Canary-Winged Parakeet
A flock of canary-winged parakeet (Brotegeris versicolorus) roosts along Dolores Street and forages in Potrero Hill and Noe Valley, according to this report.
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Ocean Beach Green Amazon Parrots

NEAR SAN DIEGO

A flock of Green Amazon Parrots visits Ocean Beach, San Diego every spring. Parrots are also spotted on Shelter Island, Point Loma and Ocean Beach, according to sundiegolive.com.
parrot
Bakersfield
Bakersfield has the country's largest colony of Rose-ringed Parakeets, according to researcher Alley Sheehy and Nature Alley. The parrots roost near Union Ave. and California Ave, but have nest throughout the city, especially in parks.
parrot

Long Beach Half-Moon Conures

A colony of Half-Moon Conures has been living in Long Beach, CA's Belmont Shores neighborhood for decades.
parrot
Red Crowned Amazons of Claremont
Red Crowned Amazons, natives of the tropics of Mexico, live in loud, sometimes seasonal colonies. According to CityParrots.com the amazons of Claremont and Pomona are refugees of the overcrowded colony in Temple City, Ca.
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Temple City

Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society field report. Lilac-crowned parrots, also call the area home.
Temple City Park, 9751 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City, CA

Hawaii Hawaii --- See other animals in Hawaii
parrot
Honolulu Amazon Parrots
A flock of Mexican red-headed Amazons is seen in the Newtown Estates section of Honolulu, according to the Honolulu Star Bulletin. The flock of hundreds also flies over Pearl City.
Florida - See other animals in Florida
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Baptist Hospital

Miami

The trees in the ponds near the Baptist Hospital are home to four species of parrots: Monk and Mitred Parrots and White-winged and Yellow-chevroned Parakeets, according to TropicalAudubon.com.

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Pompano Beach Black-hooded Parakeets

North of Fort Lauderdale

Pompano Beach is probably the best place to see black-hooded parakeets. They nest in pine trees in the area near the beach off Atlantic Blvd.
parrot
Ft. Lauderdale
Monk Parrots live in great numbers around the Ft. Lauderdale area. (nest site not specific on map)
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Miami Springs Monk Parrots
Monk Parrots nest near the Fair Haven Center, 201 Curtiss Parkway, according to TropicalAudubon.com
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Kendall Indian Hammocks Park Monk Parrots
Flocks of monk parrots can reliably be seen around Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, according to TropicalAudubon.com
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Hernando Budgerigar parakeets
Up to 20,000 Budgerigar parakeets, which are native to Australia, once lived in the wild in Florida, including 7,000 in one nest. Now there is only a tiny pocket left. Blogger Robert Fergus saw a few on Gulf Winds Circle, Hernando Beach.
Texas - See other animals in Texas
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White Rock, Dallas
A flock of monk parrots delights residents of the White Rock Lake Park area of East Dallas. They convinced the utility company, TXU, to install replacement homes for the birds when they removed nests near a substation on St. Frances Ave.
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Krieg Field, Town Lake Park, Austin

Austin has several monk parrot hot spots. The traditional one is by Krieg Field in Town Lake Park, which is off Lamar Blvd and the River.
The colony is expanding and is seen by UT Whitaker Fields on 51st Street.
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Brownsville

The southern tip of Texas has a big parrot population. Complicating the usual myth and mystery about how these parrot colonies start, at least some of these birds moved here on their own from Mexico. Trails.com says that three species live here: Green Parakeet and Red-crowned and Yellow-headed. World Birding Center gives precise locations in different towns. Since they moved here on their own, in 1988 they got designated as natives.
Brownsville, TX 

Oz Australia
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Melbourne Arts Centre Cockatoos
A flock of cockatoos is damaging the spire of the Melbourne Arts Centre, according to cityparrots.com. The Centre is trying to scare them off with trained raptors.
100 St Kilda Rd. Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia (03) 9281 8581

 

 

How is this animal doing?
Best Locations List
friends of the dolphin
All About Birds
Audubon Society
BrooklynParrots.com
Quaker Parrot Society
California Parrot Project
City Parrots
Stop Killing the Parrots
wildlife reading
Monk parakeets inhabit Austin's Town Lake, Intramural Fields
Oregon considers the monk parrot
The last of the parakeets

 

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