Parrots Escape Humans, Live in the Wild in 23 States

Source: dmodlin01 / Getty Images

Domesticated parrots are escaping their owners. The trend is so widespread that parrots live in the wild in many parts of the United States.

A researcher at the University of Chicago said that when he came to the city in 1988 he found one breed of parrots already lived in a large city park in the Hyde Park neighborhood. It dawned on him that the phenomenon might not just be in Chicago. Stephen Pruett-Jones, Ph.D., an ecologist, decided to find out how widespread the “parrots in the wild” trend was.

Pruett-Jones teamed up with several other researchers and found that feral parrots live and breed in almost two dozen states. “They found that there were 56 different parrot species spotted in the wild in 43 states. Of these, 25 species are now breeding in 23 different states,” according to their report published in Journal of Ornithology. The research was conducted from 2002 to 2016.

The data shows that the most common parrots that live in the wild are monk parakeets, the Red-crowned Amazon and the Nanday Parakeet. Not surprisingly, they live in warm parts of the country, particularly in Florida, Texas and California. If you like the birds, you should know the best places in every state for bird watching.

However, Pruett-Jones pointed out there are also populations of the birds in New York City and Chicago. The growing wild parrot population does have some downside. Monk parakeet nests, for example, are large enough to damage utility lines.

Pruett-Jones and his team also found out why the wild parrot population has grown so rapidly. Among the conclusions is that people who cannot train their parrots, or find they are too noisy, simply release them. While not all survive, some have established themselves outside the human world. One takeaway from the research is that “wild parrots are here to stay.” That’s good news, because of the number of species that recently may have become extinct.