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Frequently Asked Questions



Whether a first sighting, a seasoned observance or an overheard conversation surrounded by disbelief, many questions accompany the presence of wild parrots in California.


Q. How did the wild parrots get here?

No parrots have occurred naturally in California . Our birds are either escapees or, more often, descendants of birds originally imported (either legally or illegally) into the United States for the pet bird trade. There was no single event that resulted in the release of parrots into California – rather, dozens or hundreds of instances of escape or release ultimately led to the breeding populations we have today.

Q. How do they survive?


Parrots in California mainly eat seeds, fruits, and nectar from the huge variety of non-native (often tropical) trees and shrubs we have planted around our urban and residential areas. We have provided the food and the nest sites (generally cavities and hollows in trees) that they require. Although most parrots are tropical or subtropical in distribution, they survive in California's dry and (in winter) relatively cool climate because the food resources they need are available year round. Also, they are free from the intense predation pressures (e.g. from nest predation by snakes) that they experience in their native habitats.


Q. Why are the parrots so loud?


It's true – parrots can be heard from great distances, but their loud calls are essential to their survival. Parrots are highly social creatures and their calls are used to locate others in densely wooded areas and from a distance. Living exclusively in the trees, the parrots use their skilled voices to maintain contact with their flock, their mates, and their young. While foraging, one parrot may be designated to watch over the safety of the flock -- his call will sound the alarm of impending danger and when he sounds that call, the flock listens. In turn, he will also voice the “all clear”.

Their voices are used in playful jousts and territorial displays; they will announce their arrival and departure – their desire to communicate is at the core of their very being. Though some calls are unique to a specific species, there are calls that have proven to bridge the species barrier. In short, a parrot is not a parrot without a voice.




Photo this page © Bowles/Erickson |


In affiliation with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and
in cooperation with the Pasadena Audubon Society

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