July 29, 2011
Have you ever seen a wild parrot in L.A.? Like many other North American cities, Los Angeles has a healthy population of many species of parrots, the most commonly seen of these species in Exposition Park is the Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Brotogeris chirri.
Yellow-chevroned Parakeets feeding on coral tree nectarJail Break!People like to keep parrots as pets. To satisfy this demand, literally hundreds of thousands of parrots have been imported legally (and untold numbers illegally) into the United States over the past 50 plus years. In some cases this demand has lead to demonstrable drains on natural populations and even endangerment of some species. Inevitably, imported birds escape or are released, and over the decades enough free-flying parrots have survived to establish breeding populations in the U.S.A., particularly in metropolitan areas of south Florida and Southern California.Time to Get Liquored UpIf you’ve never seen a feral parrot around L.A. you might start looking for them in trees. At this time of year the parrots can be seen feeding on blossoms and nectar in flowering coral trees in the genus Erythrina (see picture above). This behavior is not unique to feral parrots as coral trees also appear in their native range. However other food sources they exploit in this region, such as Eucalyptus, are not found in their native range which is another example of adaptation to our altered L.A. landscape.Yellow-chevroned Parakeets are native to Brazil and adjacent areas, and were introduced to L.A. earlier this century. No one knows exactly how the introduction happened, but we do know it was from parrots that were imported here for the pet trade.