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Mar 20, 2017

2017 Breeding Season

Canary Island date palm with cavities
Canary Island date palm with cavities

Soon SoCal Parrot's vacation will be over.  Although taking care of the parrots at our facility is a year round job, this is the time of year when our intake of new parrots is the smallest.  In May of last year we took in 2 parrots but in June?  37!  Why do our numbers increase by so much in June?  It's because right now is the beginning of the breeding season for our wild parrots.

After tracking the whereabouts of San Diego's wild flocks for several years, we know that the flocks gather in a town called Ocean Beach starting in February.  For reasons still unknown to us, this is where the parrots come to every year to breed. It's obvious when you drive through OB (Ocean Beach) why the come here.  There are palm trees everywhere that have numerous cavities to nest in.  This is another way in which the parrots' impact on native wildlife is minimized.  Our parrots (non-native) only nest within palm trees (non-native) that are not used for nesting by other species.  Not only do these palm trees provide shelter, they also provide food to eat.  Make sure you take a look at the pictures I included with this report.  I was able to spend some time in the streets recently where the parrots are picking out their nest sites.

I was able to observe quite a bit of parrot behavior a couple weeks ago thanks to the San Diego Bird Festival.  Every year SoCal Parrot leads field trips over 4 days to take birders to the parrot night roosts as well as their breeding grounds.  It always makes me laugh as I watch bird watchers see a flock of wild parrots for the first time.  They're used to going to pristine native habitat and quietly waiting to spot one or two individuals of a particular species.  Here we are standing on a sidewalk and then they start to hear some squawking in the distance.  As they look up, all of a sudden there are 200-300 parrots flying in circles above us before they start diving towards the trees.  Yes it is loud.  Yes it is awesome.  Jaws literally drop open from the shear numbers and noise coming out of nowhere.  

We don't have a lot of time to watch parrots in the wild so these field trips are an easy excuse to make time to appreciate our flocks.  I took all of the pictures I included with this report in OB.  Since parrots mate for life, it is a special thing to watch a pair of parrots repeatedly returning to one tree and to a particular cavity.  You can see them starting to claim a particular cavity, making sure no other parrot s get too close.  The one thing I was really surprised by this year is that amazons and conures were nesting in trees that were side by side.  I didn't see any mixing between the two species on one tree but I always assumed that their territories might overlap but that they would never nest next to each other.  Maybe it's the acceptance ingrained in the flock mentality that allows them to tolerate strangers during the breeding season.

As we wait for the young parrots to start arriving in June, we received some great news this week.  As you may know, SoCal Parrot is our organization to take care of wild parrots that is under the umbrella of our non-profit, REP for Wildlife. The REP stands for Rehabilitate, Educate and Protect.  We created this parent non-profit so we could create multiple organizations that have a different focus on the animals they help.  We just received our Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  This will allow us to rehabilitate and release native wildlife.  We are in no way turning our back on our parrots.  SoCal Parrot will continue without change but we will be expanding to help care for native wildlife.  I won't get into the details of the process of getting a permit but this was years in the making.  As far as we can find, there hasn't been a new permit issued since the 1990s.  Taking care of non-native parrots is a hindrance to getting a permit but native and non-native animals will be completely separated on our property.  We are very excited for this opportunity to be able to help our native wildlife along with our beautiful parrots.

Palm trees supply food as well as shelter
Palm trees supply food as well as shelter
Amazon checking out a nest site
Amazon checking out a nest site
Amazon keeping a lookout for its partner
Amazon keeping a lookout for its partner
Two conures claiming their cavity
Two conures claiming their cavity
Red-masked conure hanging out
Red-masked conure hanging out
Dec 20, 2016

Amazon Release of 2016

Nene and his counterpart in our logo
Nene and his counterpart in our logo

We've just about wrapped up another great year here at SoCal Parrot.  It was our busiest year ever but we are so lucky to have staff and volunteers that dedicate their time to SCP.  Their help as well as everyone that helps us out with donations makes all of this possible.

On October 9th we had our 4th Annual Picnic with the Parrots.  In the past we would have guest speakers and vendors throughout our two acre property.  It made for an awesome event but it also took months of planning and organizing.  We just don't have that amount of time anymore due to the number of parrots that come in.  So now we have simplified our event which has actually made it better.  As always, everyone is still welcome to have an actual picnic at our property. We are now able to focus our tours on the most important thing, our parrots.  We are able to spend more time on an individual basis with each visitor.  This year was our most successful Picnic as far as donations go as well.  Our sanctuary is closed to the public other than this event so it was great to see many donors that keep visiting year after year.

One of the best benefits of running a non-profit for animals is the people you meet who you might never cross paths with.  I'm not allowed to use last names in these reports so I'll be using initials in place of last names.  Bonnie Z., the Director of the Indonesian Parrot Project, visited from Northern California to see our Amazon release.  She has been a longtime supporter of ours and was a guest speaker at one of our previous Picnic with the Parrots.  She brought Charles B. along for the visit as well.  Chuck is an accomplished writer, photographer and professor at Pacific Lutheran University.  You can see what he has accomplished at www.charlesbergman.com.  He just happened to be putting together a story on naturalized parrots so it was a perfect fit.  We were so happy to see that they were both able to see our San Diego flock of 500 Amazons flying in to their night roost.  Pat L. has been a constant supporter for years and she made the trip to San Diego from Arizona for a visit during our Picnic with the Parrots.  Her experience as an avian veterinarian is extensive and her artwork is amazing.  It is humbling for us here at SCP to have people travel to see our organization and sanctuary who, in the case of Bonnie, Chuck and Pat, have traveled to Indonesia to save a species on the brink of extinction, released African Grey parrots in Uganda with Jane G. (a very well known primatologist) and have volunteered in New Zealand to help save the Kakapo.  

Brooke (SCP Director and Founder) and I visited the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in November. It is a huge event that is very popular with birders.  It was very popular with us because it is based in Harlingen, Texas, which is right along the Texas border with Mexico along with Brownsville, McAllen and Weslaco, which are home to naturally occuring Rec-crowned Amazons.  Texas Parks and Wildlife estimates that half of the existing population of native Red-Crowned Amazons currently reside in Texas.  This is very exciting news to us.  Red-crowns are occuring naturally in the United States!  It was awesome to see the Red-crowns thriving in these Texas cities, just like they are in Southern California.  It gives us hope that the existing native wild population will survive even if they become extinct in Mexico.  A bonus for us is that the tour guides to see the parrots were the scientists that are currently studying the parrot populations in Texas.  You can check out their programs at www.facebook.com/TejanoParrots/ and www.inaturalist.org/projects/red-crowned-parrot-project.

We released 37 Amazons at our release in November!  A majority are babies and fledglings from this year that are now old enough to fly and fend for themselves.  What we are really proud of are the parrots that for one reason or another were forced to be here at our sanctuary for over a year.  Here are a couple of the stories from this year's release of what some of these parrots go through to be able to be reunited with their wild flock.  In July of 2015, a young fledgling came in with a puncture through the left side of its beak.  When they are young, a parrot's beak is soft so at some point he was most likely bitten which caused the puncture.  His beak was able to heal and a scar is the only sign he was injured.  We took in an adult Red-Crown that was larger than normal and very muscular in late September of 2015.  He had punctures in his central and right side of his chest along with a swollen right wing.  Our best guess is that the injures were due to a raptor.  The one thing parrots have going for them is that beak, I can see a raptor figuring out pretty quick that what they thought was dinner can fight back.  It always amazes me how resilient parrots are.  You'd assume they are fragile but some of the injuries I've seen these parrots recover from is remarkable.  

We'd like to once again thank everyone who has helped us, we couldn't do it without you.  We'd also like to thank everyone that donated recently in GlobalGiving's Giving Tuesday where their donations were matched with additional funds.  It is near the end of the year so please keep us in mind if you would like to contribute any donations for your year end tax planning.  Thanks again!

Our first two Amazons - Kai and Hilo
Our first two Amazons - Kai and Hilo
Sep 19, 2016

September 2016 Update

Young Amazons
Young Amazons

2016 has been a very busy year for SCP so far.  I was trying to focus on one thing for this report but there was just too much to cover.  I'll start with our most important story and that is our parrots.

To give you an idea of how busy we have been, in 2015 we took in a total of 73 parrots with 63 of those parrots coming in by the end of September.  We are half way through September in 2016 and we have taken in 104 parrots!  We are happy we can help however we can with parrots that need care but we always hope that these numbers will go down.  Our outreach seems to have been very effective, many of our rescues come to us through our emergency phone line.  Our relationships with other rescue organizations continue to grow as well, especially with Project Wildlife and the Pasadena Humane Society.  All of these sources contributed to us receiving 37 parrots in the month of June alone.  Imagine having at least one parrot arrive each day of the month.  Each with there own story, being caught by a cat, tree trimming destroying a nest, broken wings, being shot, etc.  Some need surgery, some need rest, some need 24 hour care.  It can be exhausting and we don't do it alone.  We have many dedicated volunteers that make all of this possible.

As usual, we have had the heartache of parrots not surviving their injuries but we have had some small victories.  I've included pictures below.  The first picture shows four of the many amazons we have seen this year.  It is always easier for us when nestlings show up at the same time.  They do so much better when there are other parrots similar in age that they can bond and grow up with so they can be part of a flock.  We had three babies come in from the same nest.  They are red-masked conures who are the victims of tree trimmers.  Luckily, the tree trimmers saw the parrots before they were injured and turned them in to the local humane society.  The littlest one didn't have his eyes open yet.  They are doing great and growing quickly.  The littlest one did have a couple of days where we weren't sure he would make it.  He stopped processing his food and was very lethargic.  He did pull through but is still developing slower than his nest mates. We also took in our first red-lored parrot.  She came in with a broken wing but is recovering nicely.  She has a very sweet personality, is wary of humans but has become buddies with our nanday and cockatoo.

Here at the SCP sanctuary, we have other animals besides our parrots.  We like to have our own "farm" where our volunteers and visitors can be exposed to other animals.  We have a koi/turtle pond as well as enclosures for chickens, ducks and goats.  We are in the process of expanding the enclosures for the ducks, chickens and goats.  The ducks have a larger enclosure that we just finished and the chickens have a new (very large) coop.  In the nest couple of weeks we will finish combining the chicken and goat enclosures which will give both plenty of room to roam.  Many years ago, we covered the top of our chicken and duck enclosures with nylon netting to keep raptors out.  We have coopers, red-shoulder and red-tailed hawks here as well as great horned and barn owls.  I believe a great horned owl made its way through a hole in the netting at night and killed all of our chickens and ducks.  You'll see in the pictures that we now use metal mesh to make sure no predators can get in.  We are also in the process of enlosing a covered 20'x20' area to create a new flight, we need as much space as we can get with htis many parrots.

Brooke, our founder, and Sarah, our animal care manager, recently made a road trip to Northern California to speak at a fundraiser for The Indonesian Parrot Project.  Check out their amazing work here: https://www.facebook.com/IndonesianParrotProject/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE.  They were also able to visit Native Songbird Care and Conservation https://www.facebook.com/NativeSongbirdCareConservation/?fref=ts and Aquarium of the Pacific https://www.facebook.com/AquariumofthePacific/?fref=ts.  

If you happen to be in San Diego on October 9th, please come to our 4th Annual Picnic with the Parrots for our annual open house https://www.facebook.com/events/1583693721936368/.

Conure Nest Mates
Conure Nest Mates
Red-Lored
Red-Lored
Chicken Coop
Chicken Coop
Duck Enclosure
Duck Enclosure
Future Flight
Future Flight
 
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