Sunday, March 26, 2017
A Wild Parrot of The City of Roses
There's an organization based in eastern San Diego County called SoCal Parrot that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases wild parrots that are down on their luck.
And quite often, it happens in Pasadena—where hundreds of exotic birds have gone feral, though their ancestors were likely domesticated (and somehow got out).
The problem with a San Diego-based organization rescuing injured and displaced birds in Pasadena is, quite simply, the drive. There's just too much traffic and too many birds reported too many times to keep shuttling back and forth. the entire way.
So, being just 20 minutes away from Pasadena yesterday, I found myself volunteering to relay a wayward male parrot (probably an Amazona autumnalis) from a shelter to a meeting point in Riverside County, where I'd hand him off in his little cardboard carrier to the next person in the relay, who'd bring him the rest of the way to the town of Jamul.
Now, I know that this little guy is a wild animal and is only habituated to humans from afar. I know that he wouldn't make a good pet and that if that cardboard box weren't between us, he'd likely bite and scratch me.
But I couldn't help getting a little attached to him during our two-hour drive together.
He watched me through one of the air holes in the box as I sang to the radio and intermittently told him he was going to be OK. He didn't fight. He didn't squawk. He played a little with the small towel that the shelter had placed in there with him for comfort; and, at one point, I could see him perching upside down inside the box, his claws and beak making the rounds from the various holes on the top and the sides.
Before I'd picked him up, I'd been regretting signing up for the task. I hadn't slept well. I'd already had a full day and already had encountered a number of closed lanes, car accidents, and other freeway slowdowns; so, the last thing I wanted was to spend another (potentially) four hours behind the wheel.
And it wasn't an emergency, per se. His condition was stable. He'd eaten some fruit earlier in the day, and he'd been perching. He just wasn't flying.
But, more importantly, he was lost. He'd been separated from his flock. And he was going to need some help.
The key for me was keeping him wild. He's not going to be kept as a pet, and—if he gets flying again—he's not going to get stuck inside some "forever home" sanctuary where he'll pick himself bald.
If and when he's well enough, he'll get a new family of other rescued and rehabilitated parrots of the same or similar species and around the same age.
Then, that group will get released into an existing flock in the wild.
Hopefully, the new flock won't reject them.
Photo Essay: An Orphanage for Contraband Pets
A Safe Place, Far from Home
To the Rescue