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Mar 21, 2016

Tragedy and triumph to start 2016

Conure shot by pellet that didn't survive
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're ready to go
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:

Sep 22, 2015

Audubon and parrot release 2015

Microchipped flock
Microchipped flock

Everyone here at SoCal Parrot were so excited that our article in the Audubon Magazine finally came out in July.  It's hard to believe that our story was first submitted in May of 2014 and the pictures in the article were taken in November of 2014.  The wait was worth it when we found out that we were actually on the cover.  When we started SoCal Parrot, we never imagined we would be on the cover of any magazine, especially Audubon's.  I had assumed that we would encounter resistance from organizations like the Audubon Society since we work with non-native birds but it has actually been the exact opposite.  We have encountered nothing but encouragement for our efforts.  We have even given tours to excited bird watchers visiting the Adubon's San Diego Bird Fest in March.  We were able to take them to our amazon flock's morning roost and they were quite surprised at how loud these little parrots can be.  I have attached a copy of the Audubon Magazine.  We were especially proud of our cover model Irie.  He is a very happy mitred conure that came to us blind as a baby in 2014.

We have had a very busy year so far in 2015.  To date, we have received 42 amazons and 10 conures.  Our outreach efforts must be working since we took in 27 amazons in all of 2014.  We have already been able to release several parrots back to their flock this year when the circumstances are right but we are preparing for our large release in November.  We recently implanted microchips in each of our wild parrots so we will know if any of our birds return to us.  We gather the flock together and microchip them all at the same time.  I included a picture of some of this flock right after they were chipped before we returned them to our flight.  We also swabbed for disease so they will be kept separate from our flock in our main flight until we receive all negative results.  We tested our entire flock last year and found no disease.  Once these parrots are brought into our main flight, we will begin strength training by making the flock fly from one end of the flight to the other.  This also helps to reinforce a for dislike humans and to avoid us at all costs. 

We have been focusing on building SCP stronger from within with great volunteers and planning for the future this year.  It hasn't left anytime for fundraising but we do plan on having an open house event on October 25th at our Sanctuary.  If you happen to be in San Diego at that time, you can find the details on our Facebook page.


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