Flocks of Cherry-headed Conures, a species native to South America, are now found throughout San Francisco. While a local legend claims that a pet shop owner introduced them by burning the shop down, it’s more likely that that a few of these loud-mouths exasperated their owners until they “accidentally” left a window open. Sadly, wild Cherry-headed Conures are falling ill from rodent poison. A nonprofit, Mickaboo, adopts out healed rescues.
The Wild Parrots of San Francisco
Written by Bunny McFadden
This is BirdNote.
[Red-masked Parakeet, ML 69543, 1:03-1:07]
Troublemakers. Clowns. These rowdy crowds of parrots in San Francisco are splashed with maraschino red and pickle green, as bright and cheery as the iconic ‘Painted Ladies’ houses lining Alamo Square.
The birds are Cherry-headed Conures [CON-yers], a species native to South America and officially known as Red-masked Parakeets. An introduced species likely descended from escaped pets, several wild flocks of conures now pepper the peninsula.
They’re the subject of books, documentaries, and controversy. Some people disapprove because they displace locals, a perennial discussion in the city whether you’re talking about birds or people.
Their origin is debated. A local legend claims that a pet shop owner burned down her shop, unleashing the exotic imports. What’s more probable is that a few of these loud-mouths exasperated their owners until they… “accidentally” left a window open.
[Red-masked Parakeet, ML 69543]
Despite their raucous nature, the parrots delight many tourists and locals. Come to San Francisco and you just might spy the wild parrots through the fog as they seek their lush diet of pine seeds and juniper berries.
Sadly, wild Cherry-headed Conures are falling ill from rodent poison. A nonprofit, Mickaboo, adopts out healed rescues.
[Red-masked Parakeet, ML 325202311]
With a life expectancy of 50-plus years, these are long-term roommates.
For BirdNote, I’m Ariana Remmel.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Content Director: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2022 BirdNote May 2022 Narrator: Ariana Remmel
ID# SFPA-02-2022-05-04 SFPA-02