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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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Jun 23, 2015

2015 - Babies and BB's

Our youngest baby of the season
Our youngest baby of the season

First of all, I'd like to thank all of the donors who have continued to supprot our organization (you know who you are) and all of our volunteers that give their time and energy to our organization.  It is awesome to see people who care about the lives of little green birds that are just trying to live their lives in an environment where they are not native, but they find themselves here just the same.

2015 has brought us more babies and unfortunately more birds with BB's and pellets in them that have taken their ability to fly.  In 2014, we received our first parrots that had suffered injuries from being shot.  Amazingly, all 5 birds that we took in during 2014 with BB wounds survived.  Two nanday conures from Los Angeles came in with severly shattered wings.  Both were able to save their wings but will never be releasable and will live out their lives at our sanctuary.  Our one and only wild double yellow amazon had been shot twice.  Once with a BB and once with a pellet.  Both were lodged in her chest.  She underwent surgery to have them removed but the BB had to be left due to its location.  She is in our main flight and is able to fly, but not well enough to the point where she could be released.  We are giving her time to heal, we still hold out hope that she will fully regain her full ability to fly and keep up with her flock.  Her story is especially sad since we know her flock of double yellow amazons only includes 4 other double yellows.  This means she is most likely a mother, daughter or sister within the flock.  This flock is in Imperial Beach and is observed closely.  The last two parrots that came in with wounds were both red-crowned amazons.  If you can imagine the size of a parrot, when a BB hits them, it is usually lodged in an area that is close to vital organs or delicate wing structures.  This was the case with these last two amazons and it was decided that surgery would do more damage than good in trying to remove the BB's.  They will also live out their lives at our sanctuary since they cannot fly.

So far in 2015, we have recieved two red-crowned amazons with BB wounds.  They both came in the same day from Los Angeles.  This is the second time we have received wounded parrots on the same day form the same location.  I guess the shooter wasn't content with only taking down one bird that day.  After their medical examination, we were able to have one parrot have a pin placed in its' wing so hopefully the bone will completely heal and it will be able to fly again.  We are still waiting to see how well the wing heals.  The other parrot was not so lucky.  His carpals were shattered in one wing and he will live at our sanctuary, helping us teach our baby parrots how to be wild parrots.

For every story we have of parrots that have suffered from unfortunate injuries, we have success stories of babies and fledglings that come to us who will be returned to their flock.  As of June 22, 2015, we are on pace to take in more parrots than ever before.  Last July had been our busiest year ever, we took in 8 amazons and 3 conures.  June of 2015 isn't over yet and we have already received 14 amazons and 1 conure this month alone.  In 2014, we had received a total of 11 parrots through June.  In 2015, we have received a total of 24 parrots.  You can see how many more parrots are coming in and we aren't even to our busiest month yet.  We can only assume that our outreach to the public and our relationships with other resuces, veteranarians and humane societies is getting the word out that these parrots do have a place to go.

By the time our next Global Giving report comes out, we will have made it through the 2015 baby season and I'll have plenty to share about all of these little lives.  We are getting a majority of amazons in right now but starting in July, the conures will start showing up.  I don't know why but the amazons always start breeding before the conures.  I have included pictures our youngest baby this year.  We are still trying to get weight on him so he can join the rest of the flock.  He does have signs of malnutrition before he arrived but we are hopeful he will grow up completly healthy.  All of the other amazons that we have recieved have already moved on to our transition flight.  It is situated next to our main flock that has unreleasable wild parrots as well as parrots that will be released this year.  The transition flight has fruits, vegetables, pellets and soft parrot hand feeding pellets to satisfy the hunger of a parrot and any age.  This allows our new parrts to get used to the sights and sounds of our existing flock and learn how to fly short distances.  Our work is just beginning for 2015!

Our youngest baby one month later
Our youngest baby one month later
Young fledglings in our transition flight.
Young fledglings in our transition flight.
Mar 16, 2015

Our First Parrot Release

Red-masked conures ready for release
Red-masked conures ready for release

We released our first flock of parrots back into the wild in November of 2014! We call the "wild" the urban areas of San Diego and the parrots we released were all born and raised in the wild flocks that have been documented in San DIego for over 50 years. These flocks were started by intentional and unintentional releases. We have heard stories of releases at the border to avoid inspection, fires at pet stores, and pet releases. Keep in mind that a parrot in a pet store or labeled a pet does not mean that they are domestic and tame animal. Before the Wild Bird Conservation Act was passed in 1992, a majority of the birds brought in to the US were taken from the wild. It makes sense that the four established species in San Diego, Red-Crowned Amazons, Lilac-Crowned Amazons, Red-Masked Conures and Blue-Crowned Conures.  So you have a majority of the birds that established these flocks being truly wild parrots. With lifespans upwards of 80 years, in theory the parrots seen 50 years ago could still be alive and well. The parrots we released were all brought to us from these wild flocks as injured juveniles or adults as well as babies. A majority of the birds we released came to us as babies and fledglings. These flocks are naturalized, they are non-native but they sustain and increase their numbers through reproduction.

 

We have been criticized as an organization for not releasing our parrots sooner than we did.  When we started this organization with the intent of releasing wild parrots that we have rehabilitated, we decided that we would not release until we had approval from US and California Fish & Wildlife.  We knew this would take time and effort.  If we truly beleived in our cause and the right of these endangered species to live out their life in a new environement, we wouldn't be doing them justice if we went out in secret and hid our intent to let these parrots re-join their flocks.  Both the US and California Fish & Wildlife have given us approval for our release.  The Red-Crowned Amazon is listed as an endangered species by the IUCN but has not been recognized as endangered by USFW.  The Red-Crown has been on the candidate list since 2011 to be listed as endangered and has the highest rating to be next inline to be listed as endangered.  Unfortunately, the USFW says that these Amazons cannot be listed at this time due to budget constraints.  Currently, it is estimated by USFW that half of the native population in Mexico has expanded their native habitat to include Texas, to the point that half of the wild population form Mexico currently exists in Texas.  These parrots have naturally expanded their range to Texas due to the decimation of their traditional habitat.  

 

The release took a lot of planning.  We decided to release in November because that gives the babies we started seeing in June have fledged and are flying and time to be together with our permanent wild flock members that we have in our flight aviary.  This also allows these parrots several months to integrate into the existing wild flocks.  In San Diego, a huge flock of Amazons congregate in El Cajon/Lakeside from the months of July through February were they spned the winter foraging over a large area and coming together at night at a single night roost for safety.  In February, they retrun to the coast to breed.  The largest flock occurs in Ocean Beach but they also breed in areas South as far as Imperial Beach, North as far as Oceanside and East as far as Spring Valley.  We were lucky to have one of our volunteers find the night roost in El Cajon where we released our parrots.  Up until this night roost, the most parrots I had seen at one time was 180 Amazons flying overheas at one time.  That was impressive and loud.  If you didn't know, Amazons scream as they fly.  I was amazed to see 475 Amazons landing in a dozen trees within 5 minutes.  It's hard to describe how amazing this is to see in person.  It's also amazing how many people from the public completely ignore this unique experience that we are lucky enough to see in San Diego, they're too busy getting in their car to get on the freeway.  The national Audubon Magaizine was there for our release so there will be a great article written as well as photographs of the event.  I will post a link once the article appears, we are hoping it will come out in the May/June issue.

 

Our release was a great success and a great accomplishment for us.  Our volunteers were able to attend to see the results of all of their hard work.  This release was years in the making and our greatest accomplishment.  We now know we can successfully release parrots back into existing flocks after they have been rehabilitated with other wild parrots after learning how to forage and fly with other wild parrots.  We will be able to release now on at least a yearly basis going forward.  

Our founder Brooke Durham releasing conures
Our founder Brooke Durham releasing conures
Our released conures flying with an existing flock
Our released conures flying with an existing flock
 
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