T E M P L E C I T Y, Calif., Nov. 20, 2000 -- Too many birds of a feather may beflocking in the San Gabriel Valley.
Experts fear a growing population of wild, non-native parrots iscrowding native birds out of prime nesting spots.
The problem, researchers say, is the pecking order.
“There are only so many nest sites available,” said MelanieStalder, a graduate student at California Polytechnic University inPomona who has studied the phenomenon. “If the parrots take over,then the native birds won’t be able to use them.”
Parrots Traced to 1950s Pet Shop
Stalder and fellow researcher Karen Mabb expect to begin aproject next spring to investigate why parrots have so successfullycolonized the San Gabriel Valley cities east of Los Angeles. Theyalso hope to determine whether the parrots are inbreeding, thePasadena Star-News reported.
Some trace the wild parrots to a fire in a Pasadena pet shop in1959, when the owner freed birds to save them from the flames. Butthe fire is only one factor, said Kimball Garrett, ornithologist atthe Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
Poachers smuggling parrot eggs from Mexico, birds escaping theirwire cages and reproduction in the wild all contribute to thegrowing flock.
Parakeets Also Thriving
The three researchers have joined forces and are tracking parrotpopulations in cities throughout California, including Bakersfield,San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino andRiverside.
Most parrots appear to find homes in tree cavities in suburbanneighborhoods. But another exotic bird that is thriving in thewild, the black-hooded parakeet, has been found living in theSouthern California foothills.
If exotic birds establish themselves in outlying areas, it couldendanger native species such as woodpeckers and bluebirds.
“They could impact species that can’t survive in any otherhabitat,” Garrett said.
The Southern California parrot population is especiallypronounced in Temple City. One neighborhood is home to an estimated1,500 parrots, their squawking frequently waking homeowners.