Red Crowned Parrots of San Diego

In the early 90’s I was up on a swing stage with a forensic leak specialist. Not too high, maybe only six stories. We were documenting some sealant failures, performing tests and recording results.
Then came a distant squawk and screech from behind us. it became louder and the sounds resonated off the building glass. “Stan, check this out,” I interrupted, pointing at a flock of about fifty birds. They were thirty yards out and their noise became eerily loud as they passed. Stan shot me a look, “are those parrots?” “Yup, no one is sure how they got here, but there are several large flocks throughout the county,” I exclaimed.
As much as I have tried to discover how these birds got here, apparently, no one is sure. They are indigenous to northwestern Mexico. There is much lore about illegal bird smugglers releasing them to avoid getting caught with evidence. That has never been proven….though there may be some truth to something like that happening. Even if it was something as uneventful as two escaping a home, I’m glad they’re here. I’m not supposed to be glad about it, but they’re here and I like ’em!
They are loud, obnoxious and very entertaining.
This year….just last week, a pair cased our garden. A couple of days ago, they came back, and feasted on our two remaining sunflowers.
In the opening clip of the video we see two species, but only the pair of red crowned returned. They came by three times and finished off the sunflowers.
I was stoked, and got lots of footage.


  1. Bird smuggling is a legit big criminal business. Hand raised parrots go for hundreds of dollars, Macaws over $1000. To some folks, buying a wild bird at 1/4 the price can seem like a bargain.

    Then there’s also pet owners who decide a parrot is too much work and just toss them out into the wild.

    All that said, being native to Northern Mexico, I’m sure some of them just flew North seeking greener pastures. πŸ™‚

    Great pics and video. πŸ™‚


    1. Yes, the smuggling story is likely more plausible than most other scenarios. I read from a bird expert from SDSU that they lack the ability to make the trek….which may or may not be true. It’s not like he specialized in them and made long observances of them.
      The original story I read said that the cops were making a bust and the people let them go (no evidence). I tried o find that old article and it no longer exists

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.