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Jun 21, 2016

Baby Season 2016 Has Arrived

Picking up the babies by Tommy and his human Cliff
Picking up the babies by Tommy and his human Cliff

The babies have arrived!  It happens every year but we were getting a little worried.  In 2014 the first baby arrived on May 12th and in 2015 it was May 18th.  We had heard from other wildlife organizations that the babies of other species had come in early this year.  As May came and went we were trying to figure out what was going on since we knew that the local flock here in San Diego already had fledglings learning to fly.  We also know that in Ocean Beach, the San Diego breeding grounds for Amazons, that the local neighborhoods keep an eye on the nesting locations to make sure they are not disturbed, such as by tree trimmers.  Well, the first babies finally arrived on June 9th.

The first babies arrived in about as good a situation as could be expected.  There were three babies, they were still pink with some pin feathers starting to appear on two of them and the smallest one had no feathers and its eyes had not opened yet.  They came from the same nest, it is always better when you have multiple birds of the same age, it helps lessen the impact of their interaction with humans since we have to hand feed them.  We always worry about the first baby "wilding up" if it doesn't have another parrot to sleep near and grow up with in the "nest" we provide them here at the sanctuary.  A tree trimmer was the cause of these guys losing their nest but at least he took them down to the local Humane Society for rescue.  These three are doing great and we will be posting videos of these three as they grow from all pink to fully feathered.  The best place to keep up witht there progress is at our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/socalparrot

It appears that we are making up for waiting so long for the young parrots.  After our three babies came in, we have taken in 11 fledgling Amazons in 7 days!  We were lucky enough to be able to reunite one of these guys with its parents the following day.  One day makes a huge difference in their ability to understand the concept of flying.  Sometimes one extra day is all they need.  So far everyone is healthy and growing, a welcomed sight after dealing with all of the parrot shootings.  We also received a mitred conure in the middle of all the fledglings that is an adult that had a bad head strike.  His bruised and chipped beak shows us how hard he hit something but his x-rays were negative and he eats like he's never seen food before.  So here's to keeping everyone healthy this and getting them back into the wild with their flocks.

I also wanted to give you an update you from our last report.  The good news is that we have not had any parrots shot in San Diego that we know of since April 3rd.  The investigation to find the shooters is still being handled by the Department of Animal Services (DAS).  I wish I could give you an update on their investigation but they will not tell us any details of their progress since it is an active investigation.  All I can tell you is that there are currently no suspects even though we have passed on multiple leads reported to us by the neighbors of several of the possible shooters.  We hope DAS has success at some point in their investigation.  

The last parrot shooting that was reported to us was from East Los Angeles.  One of our transport team volunteers drove up north to pick this parrot up from the man who saw it shot.  This parrot unfortunately had a shattered wing with compound fractures.  If this parrot were to survive, at the very least his wing would have to be amputated.  We disucssed this case intensely before we decided that euthanization was the most humane decision in this particular case.  There were tears shed having to make this decision for an animal that was living free a few days earlier.  This is the hard part of our job.  What makes it worse is what happened next when we told the man who called us about this parrot in the first place.  This man watched as his neighbor shot the parrot but said nothing to the neighbor.  He heard the parrot scream in pain and fall to the ground.  He knew the shooter and still said nothing.  He was able to get to the parrot immediately and call us to pick up and try and save its life.  When we notified this man what was decided, he was as hurt by it as we were.  But when he called back to call us every name in the book for our decision, it's really frustrating.  He told us that he would have gladly cared for this parrot for the rest of its life in a cage.  It's tough when the public doesn't understand that these are wild birds, not pets.  They do not want human interaction, we are predators in their eyes.  I can't imagine the life that bird would have suffered by having its wing removed and then put in a cage for the rest of its life.  The man had no parrots of his own so this parrot would have no flock members to rely on for care and comfort.  Who knows, maybe we were wrong in our decision, but all we can do is what we think is best for each individual.

If you have a chance, check out this very well done video on the harm that the illegal pet trade has on parrots.  This video actually focuses on the Red-crowned Amazon, the most abundant wild parrot in Southern California and also the most endangered.  The video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcJ_v9tjYaE.  I have also attached a link below.

Babies one week older
Babies one week older
Mitred conure recovering from a head strike
Mitred conure recovering from a head strike

Links:

Mar 21, 2016

Tragedy and triumph to start 2016

Conure shot by pellet that didn
Conure shot by pellet that didn't survive

We have had an unfortunate start to 2016.  We are always excited to take in our first rescue every year.  We always want a successful resuce to start the new year off right.  Our first resuce arrived on January 5th.  We had a call of a parrot walking in the street and there was a pool of blood.  He was in Lakeside, a city about 30 minutes east of downtown San Diego that has a large amazon parrot flock throughout the year.  This poor guy was a lilac-crowned amazon and after a visit to our veterinarian, we found out that he had been shot with a pellet gun.  The pellet had shattered his wing and was embedded in his leg.  Due to the damage from his injuries, it was decided to have him humanely euthanized.  We did have several parrots come in after this that we were able to rescue and will be released someday. However, we had no idea what was coming next starting on February 19th.

We received a call on February 19th of an injured lilac-crowned amazon.  He was found in Ocean Beach, which is a beach community that is west of downtown San Diego and borders Point Loma to the south.  This poor guy had two BB wounds but luckily no broken bones.  He had a lot of soft tissue damage and his left leg appeared to be paralyzed.  We knew he would have a long road to recovery but unfortunately he passed during the night from his injuries.  Point Loma is a coastal community due west of downtown San Diego.  It is the home territory for red-masked conures as well as a small flock of blue-crowned conures.  On February 23rd, we picked up two red-masked conures at the same location in Point Loma.  One was already dead and the other had a broken wing.  When we receive calls of two parrots at one location, it has always been due to BB or pellet wounds.  After x-rays were done, the dead parrot had a pellet lodged in his body and the other conure had a broken ulna due to a pellet.  We were confident that the injured parrot would survive his injury but he started to go downhill the next day and passed from his injuries.  February 26th we received another call from the same location in Point Loma of a dead parrot.  Sure enough, there was a pellet found by x-ray.  He was most likely shot the same day as the other parrots but was found three days later.  So here we are with five dead parrots, it's still February and we usually receive an average of two parrots per year that have been shot.  I will attach several files which go into great detail how we are working with local law enforcement to try and stop these shootings.  The one good thing from all of this is the amount of community support we have received for these parrots.  San Diego's parrots have called these communities home for over 50 years so there are a lot of people that have loved seeing them since they were kids.  On March 3rd, we recevied another call of an injured red-masked conure a few blocks north of where the other conures were shot.  He was taken to a local veterinarian and passed soon after.  The necropsy showed that he had a chest wound from a pellet.  There was so much outrage from the community that the story appeared on all of the local news broadcasts over several weeks.  It was even the opening story on the six o'clock news on CBS. 

We haven't caught any of the shooters but due to the media coverage (Facebook, newspaper and TV news) the shootings have stopped.  This qualifies as cruelty to animals and the laws recently changed so that the penalty for cruelty can be a felony.  If you are convicted as a misdemeanor you get up to one year in jail and a $20,000 fine for every count of cruelty.  If you are convicted as a felony, the punishment can increase up to three years in prison and $20,000 fine per count.  We also have the communities on the look out for any shooters so we feel we have made progress.

Now for some good news.  In the middle of all of the shootings, we were able to release a small flock of red-masked conures into an existing flock of 100.  This release occurred in La Mesa, which is about twenty minutes east of downtown San Diego and no where near any of the recent shootings.  I attached a picture of these lucky guys and the release was uneventful, which is exactly what we want.  The new releases flew around the large tree where the flock was roosting several times before landing in the tree and joining their new flock.  Keep in mind that a lot of these conures were babies from last year so they have never been able to fly without a roof over their head.  It's pretty neat to see.  Sometimes we also get in an injured parrot that may have accidently hit a window, is dehydrated or has some temprorary injury that caused them to be found on the ground.  We picked up a red-masked conure from Point Loma on March 12th.  He showed up with no apparent injuries.  A quick test flight at our facility proved that he probably just ran in to a window since he was found in a home owner's driveway.  We gave him plenty of food, hydrated him and let him have a good nights sleep before we returned to the same driveway the following day.  We could hear his flock in the distance and as soon as we opened the door to his carrier, off he went to tell his flock mates about the crazy night he had.

2016 is off to a quick start.  We have taken in 16 parrots as of March 20th.  This beats our record of last year, where we took in 6 parrots through April!  We're hoping we have better news to report as the year goes on.

X-ray of pellet victim
X-ray of pellet victim
Success - our first release of 2016
Success - our first release of 2016

Links:

Dec 23, 2015

SCP's successful 2015

They
They're ready to go

2015 has been an amazing year for SCP!  We have rescued more parrots this year than ever before.  Our volunteers and staff are doing an incredible job in caring for our parrots getting ready for release as well as our permanent residents.  We just released our amazon flock for this year and we are now focusing our efforts on getting our conures ready for their release.  I'd also like to thank Pat Latas and Maureen Roeber for their continuing support.

We have taken in 73 parrots so far in 2015.  To give you an idea of how much busier we've been this year, we took in a total of 43 parrots in 2014.  A large part of this increase in parrots is our increasing number of rescues, humane societies and veterinarians that have decided to join our wild parrot network.  We have had increased cooperation with organizations north of San Diego throughout Los Angeles.  This year was our most successful year in reuniting fledgling parrots with their parents.  We were able to reunite 7 parrots with their flock without having to bring them to our sanctuary. Many times parrots find there way to the ground when they are attempting to fledge.  They might be dehydrated, hit something while learning to fly or are just learning to use their wings.  This is obviously our preferred way to help the wild parrots.  Minimal human interaction and we know they are back with their flock.  It's pretty special to see the flock worry and wait nearby to get one of their own back.  We just released 25 amazons back into the existing flock in San Diego on December 20th.  These 25 consist of previously injured adults as well as fledglings and babies that were raised at our sanctuary.  Some of these parrots were unable to be released last year so it especially rewarding to see them finally be safely released.  They spent this year together in our main flight with other wild parrots that are unable to be released.  They learn to forage, fly and the social interactions that are so important for flock animals.  Please visit SoCal Parrot's Facebook page to see pictures and video of our release.  We will now be focusing on our conure flock to get them ready for another successful release.

If you want to work hard for very little recognition, I have a job for you as a volunteer for SoCal Parrot.  No, we don't help majestic raptors that are native to Southern California.  We help non-native parrots.  It has taken years but we are seeing the views on our work changing.  To receive recognition and appreciation from Audubon societies as well as local and statewide wildlife organizations is pretty unbelievable.  All of this progress would not be possible without our volunteers and staff.  A lot of our time is spent picking up poop and refreshing food and water bowls.  Not very glamorous.  We have volunteers that do all of this as well as transport parrots from north of Los Angeles to San Diego, educate the public at events and concentrate on enrichment by changing the parrots' environment.  All of that takes coordination and training from our staff as well as keeping up with our social networking and picking up any slack.  

I plan on having another successful conure release by the time the next report comes out.  Thank you for your support and please spread the word about SCP.

The existing flock flying overhead
The existing flock flying overhead

Links:

 
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