Noisy Wild Parrots Call Palisades Home

 

These noisy birds make their home in Pacific Palisades.

By CHAZ PLAGER

Any longtime resident of the Palisades has likely seen (and heard) the screeching flocks of green birds which nest in the town.

Colloquially referred to as wild parrots, residents are divided on their perceptions of the birds. Many find them annoying and obstructive to their otherwise peaceful neighborhoods, but others think them charming and unique, a splash of color to an area with relatively little wildlife.

I had never considered that these birds might not be a native species to the Palisades. That is, until one day when out of curiosity, I looked up what these birds were. I was shocked to find that they were in fact native to Mexico.

What we call the “wild parrots” are, in fact, the yellow-chevroned parakeets (Brotogeris chiriri), found in small flocks in the Santa Monica area but more numerous in central and southern Los Angeles.

There are several theories as to how they were first introduced to California, but the four most prevalent are:

*Publicity Stunt: In 1979, as an attempt to draw attention to their grand opening, the Busch Gardens released hundreds of wild parrots into the air, none of which were ever recovered. After generations of reproduction, the numbers of parrots seen today would not be too strange.

*Smugglers: Back when the exotic bird trade was still alive and kicking in the 40s-50s, smugglers, who were afraid the fuzz were onto them would release all their stock into the air, effectively erasing the evidence. If the yellow-chevroned parakeets were among them, they would have had to fly all the way up to Santa Monica from the San Diego port for this to be true, however.

*Released From Nursery: Simpson’s Garden Town Nursery in east Pasadena was carrying several exotic birds when it caught fire in 1959. Rather than leave the parrots to be burned, the firefighters heeded an injured employee’s request and released 65-70 caged parrots into the wild. It is unknown which species were among the parrots, however.

*Accidents: There were several reported accidents during the 1940s-50s where cages (from legal distributors, not smugglers) carrying exotic birds were unwittingly opened, releasing birds into the wild. A realistic, but somewhat anticlimactic theory.

Luckily, the yellow-chevroned parakeets are not an invasive species. They do not steal other birds’ food source, do not attack other animals, and are not erasing the population of their prey. California has enough invasive species as it is (I’m looking at you, bunnies that mysteriously began to appear in the Palisades a few years ago), so this comes as a relief.

Where do I stand on the birds – are they annoying or charming?

Well, ever since we trimmed our backyard tree, the wild parrots have come to nest and chatter all day long. However, I don’t really mind. The Palisades is almost always silent save for the sounds of wind or passing cars, so something to break up the monotony is appreciated, even if it is somewhat harsh. Just be glad they aren’t really parrots—one can only imagine the things they’d repeat.

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4 Responses to Noisy Wild Parrots Call Palisades Home

  1. Vicki Warren says:

    I think the most common wild / feral parakeets in the Palisades are actually the Nanday Parakeet. Here is a reference article:
    https://topanganewtimes.com/2023/08/25/parrots-in-paradise/

    And here is a video with their sound:
    https://youtu.be/Fpc6FD2QtFU?si=akpGnLsGNGjsGeDJ

    Here is the Yellow-Chevroned parakeet sound (which, to me, doesn’t sound like our local birds):
    https://youtu.be/agpeSwwNnCY?si=jNRK6K3ZYynCbJcv

    Vicki

  2. Monica says:

    There are actually multiple wild parrot species in the palisades—one is the Nanday Conure, which I often see flocks of in the bluffs near Pali High. They are the second loudest conure species in the world.

  3. Julie Fasteau says:

    I have lived the Palisades for 43 years and have never seen the parrots that call our town their home. I would adore to see them and am anxious to know where they are usually spotted. I see that someone mentioned seeing them in the bluffs near Pali High, and I will look for them there. Are there any other places where people have seen parrots in our neighborhood? Noisy or otherwise, I think having large, green, Exotic birds of mysterious origin share the air in Pacific Palisades is fortunate and a delight.

  4. Nancy Brennan says:

    When I was doing the annual BioBlitz, their photos were identified as Nanday Parakeets. they are very striking when they flock in the red Fall leaves of the liquidambars up our hill.

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