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What's Bugging You? Wild, squawking parrots

February 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
You can't always see them, but you can always hear them. In some areas of the San Gabriel Valley, wild parrots are flying around and they can make Southern California sound like a jungle.

"I don't wake up, they wake me up. So starting exactly at 6:21 (a.m.), they start coming in and they go for about 15 minutes," said Wendy Lee, who lives in the area inhabited by the fowl.

Kimball Garrett, an expert on birds at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, said it doesn't take many to parrots to cause a commotion.

"There are thousands, but it doesn't take too many parrots to sound like a thousand parrots," Garrett said. "They're very vocal, they're very social birds. They make a lot of noise."

Garrett said the parrots in question were brought from Central and South America. Some escaped from cages, some were possibly released illegally and now, decades later, they have multiplied - a lot.

The parrots have made their home in Southern California for the same reason we do. The weather's nice year-round and the living is easy.

"At any given time of year, something is going to be producing food for a bird like a parrot, so we've created a perfect habitat for them," Garrett said.

Andrew Berk, who also lives near the parrots in South Pasadena, said there's no doubt the parrots are nice to look at.

"It's difficult because they're incredibly noisy and boisterous and annoying, but then you look at the birds and they are such beautiful creatures, so it's really hard to get too upset," Berk said.

But the big question is, what about the noise? There are devices that emit noises of predators designed to keep birds away.

Unfortunately, these parrots are not only beautiful, they're pretty smart, too.

"They get wise pretty quickly to the fake predators like the fake owls," Garrett said. "They're not really scared away by these noises. It's a pretty difficult thing to do to discourage them from using an area."

Garrett said since the birds are not native to California, they aren't protected by law, but there's no mistaking that they're here to stay.

Residents said the noise bugs them, but maybe everyone can learn to get along.

"The negative stuff goes with the positive stuff, so we accept it," said Berk. "We try to just curse at them and just curse at each other, and then we get over it."


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