Articles

Diverse Foods of California’s naturalized Parrots

A look at the varied diets which have enabled California’s
parrots to successfully thrive for many decades.

By Salvatore Angius
August 16, 2013
Diets

While  documenting and monitoring the diverse naturalized parrot flocks throughout California, parrot flocks were encountered in many cities ranging from southern San Diego Co. to as far north as Sacramento and as east as Bakersfield, CA . As thirteen species of established parrots were successfully located,  I have documented  these parrots behavior including their interactions within their flock and with other wildlife, communicative calls: (original and mimicked) , preferred nesting sites, human involvement , geographical ranges, population numbers, noted hybrids, and extensive diets. While several of these mentioned aspects helped enable the survival of these parrots, It is unarguably  the extensively varied diets which  play the key role in their successful survival.

It comes as no surprise that many residential households have regularly witnessed parrots thriving well in their neighborhoods for decades. This is undoubtedly due to the abundance of imported landscaping trees which have  provided California Parrots with the consistent year-round diverse diets they needs. Having their fair share of options and portions, these survivors have learned what to eat and what to avoid. These parrots can also recognize when a ripe fruit is edible, or when a mature or ripened seed pod becomes unedible, i.e. Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua). While some have learned where to locate nontoxic flowers rich in nectar and pollen, others have learned which certain plants to extract juices from for hydration purposes.  Furthermore a few species have also been seen routinely consuming bark particles from selected trees.  See more…

 
 

How are they surviving?

Red Crowned Amazon drinking morning dew from a utility line

Red Crowned Amazon drinking morning dew from a utility line

By Salvatore Angius

There is no doubt on anyone’s mind that the survival of these birds is sustained by the varied food sources available. The fruit, nectar, flower buds, and sometimes bark, of imported landscaping plants make up the bulk of their diets. The availability of most of these seasonally consumed foods are not year around. The variety and concentration of these imported plants make finding easier for these parrots. For this reason, our parrots typically prefer urban settlements to our natural ecological areas. In these urban areas, some species such as Indian Ringnecks, Nanday Conures and possibly Blue Crowned Conures routinely frequent household bird feeders. While less common, there are also accounts of Mitred Conures, Red Crowned, and Lilac Crowned Amazons who also frequent birdfeeders in Southern California as well. With many food and vitamin sources available, the diets of these parrots are anything but basic. We have documented and photographed over sixty food items to date. A photo gallery link will soon be provided with these foods and their referenced plant names on this site as well. More…

 
 

How did they get here?

Source: Pasadena Star News

Source: Pasadena Star News

By Salvatore Angius

While California is home to many parrot species, many onlookers have developed various urban legends regarding their arrivals. These legends include but are not limited to: the involvement of disgruntled employees at pet stores, animal activist at University labs, desperate smugglers avoiding prosecution, rescuers opening cages from fires at aviaries, escapes from a circus, a restaurant burglary, and the closing of a popular theme Park in Van Nuys. Of all the many urban legends available, the most commonly told story involves a release during an actual 1959 fire at Simpson’s Garden-Town Nursery in East Pasadena. According to a Pasadena Star News article, the nursery was known for housing caged birds. The article also mentions that during this tragic event, an employee received injury while attempting to rescue the many caged animals as well. More…