How did they get here?
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.
While we know that the legends involving these parrot’s arrival are highly varied, so are the currently diverse established species as well as their first documented sightings. Therefore, with continuing research, it may be possible to determine if more than one legend may in fact hold some truth behind it. However, what these diverse parrot species do have in common is that they seem to share an arrival period of when importation into the U.S was legalized. Based on this time frame, we may also infer that the original pioneers of today’s flocks were likely to be wild caught individuals. Moreover, this possibility of being descendants of wild caught parrots may explain their exhibited keen survival instincts which appear to be absent in today’s hand raised parrots. These same survival instincts may have helped enable these parrots to initially make their successful acclimation in our cities as well. Therefore, while it is likely that these birds may at some point have begun their lives wild, I do not believe the term “feral” should be used to describe the status of these parrots. The term “feral” refers to a domesticated animal turning wild, such as a stray cat or dog.