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Amazon Yellowhead
Tavia - Queen of the Amazons searchs for a Mate

One of only a few Yellow-headed Parrots among our local flock, Tavia was the first we laid eyes on more than 10 years ago. Without that fully decorated head of brilliant yellow, we knew she was neither a juvenile nor an older bird, but somewhere inbetween.

Seemingly a single bird, she spent most of her time with a small group of parrots we affectionately called "The Misfits." This small flock consisted of one Yellow-headed Parrot (Tavia), one Blue-fronted, one Red-crowned mated with a Red-crowned / Lilac-crowned Hybrid, one Red-crowned mated with a Lilac-Crowned, two female White-fronts, a Rose-ringed Parakeet and a couple of Red-crowns with odd beaks.

When nesting season rolled around, she would always try to help her friends, but when they chased her off, you could see the disappointment in her eyes. This happened two years in a row, until one spring morning, she just disappeared -- we could find her nowhere. For 18 months we searched for her wondering where she had gone. We continued to hope we would see her again, but the more time went on, the more our hopes faded.


It's Spring! Where Have All the Parrots Gone?

Pair of birds

The lengthening days of winter give the first sign that spring is slowly approaching and mother nature signals, it is time to prepare.

Lifetime and first-time mates alike, break from the safety of their flock leaving the single birds and the juveniles behind in search of the ideal place to raise this year's young. With mated pairs absent, the flock becomes only a portion of what it once was.

Those with years behind their union may return to their ideal place year after year, others may return to their choice spot only to find their 'perfect place' trimmed to ruins or worse yet -- completely gone. For those birds and first-time mates, the search for an appropriate nesting place may become long and tedious. For some, their search will lead to parts unknown, for appropriate place will be found and their expedition may continue through the year, missing this nesting season completely.


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Flock of Birds

From San Francisco to San Diego, the sight of California’s wild parrots flying through the skies has become common place.  Large flocks can be seen at dusk and dawn flying into the horizon. Their unique style of flying in pairs is unforgettable, their loud and raucous calls unmistakable, and their story is one of mystery, challenge, and irony.

Wild parrots have been documented in California since the 1960s, yet their presence may have begun some years before.  But how did they get there? There are several local urban legends on that subject and the same stories always seem to crop up wherever parrots are found. Aside from urban legends, some individuals have come forward to tell of actual events they reportedly witnessed.

One woman reported that in the late 1940s, her mother would regularly fly parrots up from Mexico in her small airplane. She would sell these parrots in order to pay for fuel for her return flight. These wild parrots where transported in small, stick cages. On more than one occasion, this woman was present when some of the parrots had broken free from their cages and were loose in the cockpit. When the door to the plane was opened, a number of parrots flew away. Unfamiliar with parrot species, she presented an old black and white photograph of her as a child and one of the parrots her family let her keep. There was no doubt her mother was flying in Amazons.



Tree Trimmers in Spring

Blue-fronted Parrot Female Blue-fronted Parrot on the area where her nest once was before tree trimmers arrived. She and her mate returned daily for weeks looking for their missing young.


"The hidden treasure of a tree is found in places you will rarely see." ----------------------------------- L. Erickson

Each year we are flooded with stories of displaced baby birds as a result of tree trimmers. Please, if you or someone you know plans to trim a tree -- do it responsibly and with consideration for the wildlife around you.

For people, trees are an aesthetic asset creating beauty around homes, buildings, parks and streets. To our wildlife, the trees are their lifeline offering food, shade, shelter, a place to hide, a place to rest and a place to nest and raise their young.

There are more than 350 species of birds that reside in, nest or pass through Southern California each year. These birds rely on our trees and shrubs for life sustaining purposes...the most important of which is nesting.

Special care should always be taken when considering the trimming or pruning of a tree or shrubs, not only for nesting birds, but also for the health and beauty of a tree for years to come. Trimming a tree at the wrong time of year can gravely disturb nesting birds and can literally damage the tree, leading to disease and the intrusion of pests that harm trees. The best time to trim or prune for the trees and birds alike, is Fall or Winter between September and the middle of January when trees are in their dormant stage and during the off-season for nesting. Even then there are exceptions, so it is always best to hire an individual or company who is experienced, thoughtful, and who will take the time to inspect the area before work begins...and who knows the law. Beware of individuals and companies that only trim trees, because they must work year-round.

Birds and active nests are protected from harm or harassment by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The California Department of Fish & Game and the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service will issue citations and fines to individuals and companies that blatantly disregard the regulations. California Fish & Game Code 3503 states in part, "It is unlawful to take, possess, or needlessly destroy the nest or eggs of any bird."

Remember, you can stop needless damage to trees and nests by taking an active role -- this includes city tree trimming and that of private individuals is the law.

If you should witness any such activity or violation, report this to the Law Enforcement Office of the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service at 310.328.1516 (Office of Investigations and Compliance Inspection).



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