Feral Parrots Are Taking Over America


Category:  Pets & Animals

Via:  bob-nelson  •  last year  •  25 comments

Feral Parrots Are Taking Over America
Visitors to Chicago’s Hyde Park or New York’s Green-Wood Cemetery may be surprised to hear the raucous squawks of lime-green monk parakeets. These birds, descendants of escaped pets, have managed to create thriving colonies in these cities despite the annual cold weather. It turns out they’re far from unusual—escaped pet parrots have established breeding populations in nearly half of U.S. states, according to a new analysis.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


The United States was home to just two native parrot species, the Carolina parakeet (now extinct) and the thick-billed parrot (now only found in Mexico). But that doesn’t mean Americans don’t have plenty of opportunities to see free-flying parrots. As new research describes, there are 56 parrot species living in the wild across 23 U.S. states. Of those, 25 species have formed breeding colonies.The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to own any bird (or any part of a bird) from a list of hundreds of native species. Instead, the pet trade, both legally and illegally, imports exotic bird species like parrots—and inevitably, some of these birds escape and occasionally breed. All of the parrots documented in this research, with two possible exceptions, descended from escaped pets.

A team of scientists, led by Cornell graduate student Jennifer Uehling, reviewed parrot observations from 15 years of community science observations—specifically, the annual Christmas Bird Count and Cornell University’s ubiquitous eBird database. Birders log their sightings along with comments, and reviewers confirm any rarities with more details, further observations, and photos. The researchers determined that a bird population was “established” if birdwatchers had observed the species 25 or more times (a purposely high but relatively arbitrary number) and if records included observations of breeding.

512 The data review showed that 56 species had been observed 118,744 times at 19,812 unique locations, according to the paper published in the Journal of Ornithology. The monk parakeet accounted for more than a third of the observations, while red-crowned Amazons and Nanday parakeets accounted for 13.3 percent and 11.9 percent of the sightings, respectively. California, Florida, and Texas accounted for most of the records.

Monk parakeets in Chicago.
Jennifer Uehling

This is community science data, so it’s worth looking skeptically at some of the observations. But still, that’s a lot of parrots.

How do parrots survive in a foreign habitat? The researchers explain that monk parakeets can build their nests in natural or human-made structures, adjust their diets to survive in the cold, and can establish new populations far away from where they were born. They’re particularly good at surviving in human-altered habitats. The researchers note that density of humans and the minimum January temperature have the biggest impact on the diversity of naturalized parrots—which is why it shouldn’t be surprising that southern Texas, southern Florida, and southern California have the most parrots.

But should these colorful colonies be celebrated or removed, given that the birds are invasive? Eradication efforts are occasionally met with resistance from bird lovers, and proposed laws in some states, including New York and New Jersey, would further protect monk parakeets, according to the new paper. The red-crowned Amazon is red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in its native range, and might receive similar protections in the United States.

For now, the answer is that scientists need to do more science, and establish what effects, if any, parrots have on native species (for now, there’s no evidence either way, according to the paper). But it’s clear that humans alter their environments in ways you might not expect, such that animals from around the world have now established populations far from their home ranges.

Initial image: Monk parakeets in Cooper City, Florida.  J Pat Carter (AP)


jrDiscussion - desc
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Bob Nelson
1  seeder  Bob Nelson    last year

We should allow them to proliferate.

After all... all those coyotes now installing themselves in urban/suburban settings will need prey...

2  Ed-NavDoc    last year

Sounds like the birds may be adapting better than the coyotes. People will feed the birds.

Bob Nelson
2.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @2    last year

Well... the coyotes can always count on the pigeons.

2.1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1    last year

Yeah, but aren't a lot of them inner cities pigeons diseased?

Bob Nelson
2.1.2  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @2.1.1    last year

The ones I see look fat and happy.

3  luther28    last year

The United States was home to just two native parrot species, the Carolina parakeet (now extinct) and the thick-billed parrot (now only found in Mexico).

Perhaps if we had THE WALL we might have kept the thick-billed confined to our shores ( in truth we would need a dome). Sorry Bob it was low hanging fruit.

4  Tacos!    last year

We have them around here. You can hear them coming because they are the talkiest birds in the air. I found them entertaining but last year they ate every last plum off my tree (it's not a real big tree) in the space of about an hour.

Bob Nelson
4.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Tacos! @4    last year

Did they say "Thank you"?

4.1.1  Tacos!  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1    last year

Manners are dead. You'd think with all the talking a parrot can do, one of them would learn "please" or "thank you."

Bob Nelson
4.1.2  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.1    last year

That would be the least they could do.

5  r.t..b...    last year

Feral parrots...could become the official mascot hereabouts. 

Bob Nelson
5.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  r.t..b... @5    last year
official mascot hereabouts


Perrie Halpern R.A.
6  Perrie Halpern R.A.    last year

My sister actually owns a monk parrot. They are tough feisty little birds. They don't tend to bother other birds habitat like the most unwanted starling, that was brought here from Europe. I say let them be... even if my sister's bird just took a nice chunk out of my hand on Sunday. I won't take it personally, LOL!

Bob Nelson
6.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @6    last year


7  Kavika     last year

Belmont Shore (Long Beach) in Southern California has had parrots for decades...When I lived in the area we'd have lunch or dinner on 2nd St and you could hear them nosily having a great time. 

Bob Nelson
7.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Kavika @7    last year


Split Personality
8  Split Personality    last year

Thousands of feral parrots live in San Francisco, primarily on Telegraph Hill.


8.1  Krishna  replied to  Split Personality @8    last year

Thousands of feral parrots live in San Francisco, primarily on Telegraph Hill.

They must be hippie parrots!

Bob Nelson
8.1.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Krishna @8.1    last year

Internet zillionaires...

9  Kavika     last year

The feral parrot's of St. Petersburg

Bob Nelson
9.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Kavika @9    last year

They appear too be doing just fine!

10  Kavika     last year

Parrot in my neighborhood, central Florida, Marion country.


11  Krishna    last year

Well, most place have their native bird populations-- Robins, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Sparrows, Owls in more rural areas, etc. It would seem strange to see Parrots in northern states like Minnesota or North Dakota-- or Vermont or New Hampshire. But even though they might not be indigenous in warmer states, I don't think it would be too strange to see parrots flying around in places like southern Florida. (After all they are tropical birds).

Bob Nelson
11.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Krishna @11    last year

Perhaps a state might choose a "state invasive bird"...

Buzz of the Orient
12  Buzz of the Orient    last year

Everybody better stock up on.......


They could get belligerent if you don't satisfy them when they ask for them.


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