Surprising squawk as wild parrots flock to Pacific Beach - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

FRIDAY, September 10, 2010

Surprising squawk as wild parrots flock to Pacific Beach

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By News 8's Craig McKee

PACIFIC BEACH (CBS 8) - It is a wild sight as a variety of parrots are calling San Diego County their home.  From Point Loma to Ocean Beach, Mission Bay and this week in Pacific Beach the colorful birds have peaked homeowners interest.

They're not native to San Diego and how they got here is anyone's guess.

"There were stories that they might have gotten out as someone's pet from smuggling," said Rick Schwartz, an Ambassador for the San Diego Zoo. He says while the origin of the birds is not known, those who live where the birds roost are certainly aware of them.

"The morning comes they do their location calls they want to gather the flock together," Schwartz explains. "Then they'll send off to their feeding grounds wherever they're going to find food for the day."

According to the California Parrot Project, a non-profit research group, there are 13 varieties of parrots flying around California.

A number of them over the past few years have been captured by photographer's lenses in Ocean Beach and other areas. Still the flock in Pacific Beach seemed out of sorts to some.

"Parrots really, the most I've seen around is like seagulls and pelicans," said Jim Griffin.

It's obviously a possibility -- after all they're birds and have wings, but the reason they're migrating to other areas may have more to do about what they eat.

"That might have to do, if you pay close attention to, what's fruiting at that time," explains Schwartz. "There might be a palm tree with really ripe fruit at that time." To that point,  a News 8 employee says the parrots come visit his home in La Mesa when the Pecans are in season.

One man we came across says he's even seen them flying around Balboa park.

"This is probably two weeks ago, I thought they were parrots I'd seen down there," recalls Alan Campbell.

Many viewers have contacted News 8 with sighting in El Cajon and Lakeside too.

Rick Schwartz says parrots are very social birds and live a long time. The Red Crowned parrot seen primarily around here has an average life expectancy of 50 years.

When asked if these birds are breeding here, Schwartz said there's no evidence to prove it, but with all the right conditions it's possible.

You can report parrot sightings on the California Parrot Project website.


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