San Diego

Tracking San Diego's Parrots: USD Biology Instructor Launches Study to Track the Wild Birds

A University of San Diego professor has launched a program to study and monitor a pandemonium of parrots that has lived within the local community for decades. 

If you haven’t seen them, you’ve probably heard them. Thirteen species of wild parrots are living in Southern California, many of them in San Diego County.

The parrots have been spotted at the El Cajon Courthouse, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Oceanside, Escondido and Point Loma.

"They’re living side-by-side with us and doing very well," said University of San Diego Biology Instructor Dr. Janel Ortiz.

Ortiz has launched a study called the San Diego Parrot Project to learn more about the birds, which likely ended up here as part of the exotic pet trade.

She said they come from the jungles of Mexico and Central and South America, but appear to be thriving in a much more urban environment.

That is something the study will examine.

"Seeing how their population is doing – are they staying stable? Are they increasing? Are they decreasing? What’s going on with them as far as being here in a very urban environment that’s different from where they naturally come from," Ortiz said.

Ortiz said she and her students will also try to figure out where the birds go to forage for food, the types of food they’re looking for and other natural behaviors.

They plan to conduct their first survey in Point Loma on Wednesday and once a month after that to track the birds.

Linda Easton has lived in the Loma Portal area for about 25 years and said the birds have been there for as long as she can remember.

"I love them. I love to wake up to them in the morning. I love seeing them in our trees. It’s just, it’s part of nature. It’s part of the community,” Easton said.

Point Loma resident Erin Lista said there, the birds are lovingly referred to as the "Point Loma Parrots."

"I just think it’s beautiful. It’s nature in the neighborhood," Lista said.

Ortiz said there will be opportunities for members of the community to participate in their study.

"San Diego’s a big area, so me and my students - we can only cover so much ground. So having extra people to help us on the ground to look for these birds is going to help us out tremendously,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz created a Facebook page for the study. Click here to learn more about the San Diego Parrot Project

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