Photo: Lilac-crowned Amazon, Lakeside, California

Karen Straus


Welcome to my birding obsession!

Media interest in San Diego’s wild, naturalized parrot flocks started me thinking about these beautiful “undocumented” birds that were originally from Mexico. I can’t help feeling how fortunate we are to have gained naturalized parrot flocks here and how lucky we are to be able to see them, hear them and observe their lives.

After all, we can no longer see, hear or observe the stunning Carolina Parakeet, the only parrot species native to the eastern United States.  Huge flocks of Carolina Parakeets lived in old forests along rivers, using hollow trees as roosts. The flocks fed on forest seeds and plants and later fruits from cultivated orchards. The last known wild specimen of the Carolina Parakeet was killed in Florida in 1904, and the last known surviving bird died in an Ohio zoo in 1918.

Several factors are suggested as contributing to the extinction of this colorful, slender parrot species: habitat loss, plume hunting for the millinery trade, capture for the pet trade, being shot as an agricultural pest, competing with introduced honeybees for nesting hollows, and contracting a domestic poultry disease.

I treasure our “undocumented” parrots and hope that we can co-exist in our shared habitat long into the future. Looking up into the trees,  seeing a flash green and hearing a raucous parrot call, I think of what we lost when the Carolina Parakeet was exterminated. Our beautiful naturalized Amazons and Conures help make up for the loss.

To read an article on naturalized parrots by the San Diego Reader, click

To learn about naturalized parrot rescue and rehab, click

To see a short video with parrot vocalizations, click Lakeside's Amazon Parrots

Click here to see images of parrots being released to join a wild flock.

Click on the feather below to learn more about Naturalized Parrots and to see images. Painting of Carolina Parakeets by John James Audubon.