Can U C M? Squawking away at friends hidden in the fronds? One of the fearsome wild parrots of the South Bay, caught by my intrepid clicking fingers near the church-with-the-bell-tower, a landmark on Torrance Blvd. just before it slopes to the Redondo Pier.
The Parrot Project website says that free-flying parrots have been spotted around the area since the 1960s, and that the current population descends from escaped pets (or almost-pets)--a scenario repeated dozens of times.
According to local lore, the parrots all come from a few contraband birdies once confiscated by customs officials at LAX.
Not exactly true, according to parrot-tracking website Amazornia. Here's what they say:
"The wild parrots flying free in Southern California today are descendants of wild-caught parrots who were imported into the United States before importation was banned and somehow either escaped or were released intentionally. These birds were already well versed in their survival skills and able to establish themselves in areas where exotic plant life is plentiful."
Like Redondo Beach, where Majestic Magnolias line some of the streets. When their avocado-sized seed pods are ripe with big red berries, the parrots will hit tree after tree in the evenings, kind of like feathered barhoppers. The parrots scream loudly and obnoxiously, they pitch the used seed pods at cars. . . yeah, a lot like feathered barhoppers, getting good & soused.
Amazornia claims that pet parrots usually can't survive in the wild--the flocks in the area do not take new escapees in. What we see (and hear--oh, lordy, can you hear them!) are birds bred and raised wild.Occasionally you can look up and see parrots sitting on a phone line. Watch for a minute--chances are one of them will start to fall backward and hang by his feet. Endlessly amusing.
According to Amazornia, these wild parrots are thriving, but in their native land the story is more dire. They are endangered due to habitat loss and hunting. So if they pitch a seed pod at you, be patient. Remember that these are the survivors of an endangered species, fighting to turn things around. We might have something to learn from them.